Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Early For Roses?

 Early For Roses?
6x8in oil on canvas panel $140. SOLD

Artist Note.
All the top artists 
teach it. Colors are
warm in the sunlight
and cool in the shadow.
But, if painting a very light
color and white cools any color,
how does that work?

I took a workshop 20 years 
ago from Ovanes Berberian
and he would tell me,
"no color next to no color 
means CHALKY"
What he meant was 
I had too much white added 
into my mixtures.
He emphasized if you use a
 pale warm color 
next to a pale cool
it would never be chalky.

Another way he helped me
was reminding me 
to mix a warm white pile
to have on the side.
A small dab of  
Yellow Ochre and Alizarin
into the white
Cad Yel light and Cad Red light 
for an even warmer white.
For the cool white pile add
 any blue with a tiny touch of 
orange in it.

If I may pat myself on my back
I admit to taking wonderful notes
in a workshop. I found I would listen 
to his words more than 
just sit and watch his demo. 
He was a fabulous, 
academically sound teacher.

My note book  from the Ovanes's
workshop is stuck back 
together with packing tape it 
because it has been used so much!
I go back to it when  I need help
and always find a solution.

The one below is on the different 
ways Ovanes held the brush.
He was a magician with it.

I still grin at remembering this...
He came up one day and took the 
brush out of my hand holding
 it at the very end and said
in his Armenian/Russian accent..

"Julie, rrrresason brush is thhis llounng "

I had been holding it near the 
top all the time!
See bottom sketch of how 
he held it for most of the painting...
only moving up the handle
for the final finessing.
See his work here

Good memories!


  1. You just can't go wrong with that advice! And how smart of you to write it down, pay attention, and keep your notebook. And refer back to it! And use it! A great student!

    Looking at your roses in the light, am I seeing both a warm and cool color in the light as well as both a warm and cool in the shadow? Seems like the white in the light is a little cool but has a nice red next to it? Or did he mean side by side warm and cool colors in the light and in the shadow? I guess you can't just adjust the value and include both a warm and cool in the light area.

    I know you will answer:) Thank you.

    1. Hi Libby. I will try to answer but am not quite sure what you mean.
      In my mind... my light area is the warm white with a teeny bit of the blue sky in it because it is facing the sky. White is reflective so the greens and sky get absorbed into the white, In my mind, the pink in the light areas is warmer that the pink in the shadows, Where you see warm in the shadow area is where the light bounces through the petals. I know it is not easy but the main thing is if you have light colors make sure you use warm and cool colors so they do not look chalky. If I have it painted wrong in places then I know at least I have the values right? or Not???
      Value - different than color...everything in the shadow stays in those values and everything in the light stays in those values.

    2. Sorry, I wasn't clear! I have read that in shadow, colors are generally cool and in light, colors are generally warm. But, it sounds like in the light passages you can include both warm and cool versions of the same color (or various colors) and have that be fine. This seems wonderfully flexible. I totally understand about helping the whites to not appear chalky by including both the warm and cool. No problem with separating values though. That part I got! (At least!). :)


  2. First reaction....WOW! You have mastered painting a rose. The workshops have definitely worked for you Julie. This is so beautiful!!!! (I better start taking

    1. You certainly do not need notes, Hilda! Your work is wonderful.
      I love workshops - they have helped broaden not only my viewpoint and skill level but meet other artists.
      I still love to take them, but unfortunately time is an issue when my schedule doesn't match the ones I would like to take.

  3. It must have been a wonderful workshop Julie. Thanks for sharing that great color tip.. I am putting this post on my list of favorites.

    1. Yes - it was and it is one i still remember all these years later. Thanks for the great comment.
      Your seascape is truly lovely and I really enjoyed your view on plein-air painting. Trust me...I understand!

  4. That is great that you had such a remarkable learning experience and that you kept the notes! This is a beautiful painting Julie! No doubt the product of your evolution since those times with Ovanes!

    1. I have a notebook for every workshop I have taken. Ovanis happened to have the most information because it was only my second workshop with a well known artist. I was still working so only had vacation times to treat myself to fine art.
      It is good to see you are back painting again after your sad loss.
      The little girl is wonderfully painted.

  5. This is great, Julie! I recently had this problem with a painting....should have called you for advice.

    1. Hello kathy - great to have you visit. I saw the wonderful paintings you did on Lets paint New Mexico FB.
      Have a lovely painting week.

  6. I see you were a very receptive pupil ...even taking notes :-) Your roses are gorgeous as always , even with so many colors they still read as white !

    1. Lovely comment from a flower connoisseur like yourself . Thanks Jane.
      It was neat to see your painting Walking with Fido. Sunny and active. Love the way she is holding the leash.

  7. Wow! Did I just learn a lot. But then I always do when I read your blog. And I am so impressed that not only can you understood the notes you took, but that you can find them.

    1. You are so funny, Sharon - good one. Yes, I can find some but not all of my notebooks. Are you painting?

  8. Your roses are amazing, Julie, and provide such a visual symphony! I researched Ovanes Berberian and can readily see his wonderful warm/cool relationships in his work. It's very apparent in his florals, but in his other work, too, I found it so interesting to see what he used for shadows. It seems as though he dulled down the color in the shadow areas in addition to just applying a cool color such as blue, purple, etc. Does that make sense? I've been staring at his work for some time now.

    Anyway, I feel you've opened another door for me with this bit of wisdom. I'm always grateful for this!

    1. Over the course of twenty years Ovanes 's work has changed from when I took from him. The principles he teaches will have remained constant. He used the neutrals perfectly with small amounts of color next to them. He always mixed the complements to neutralize, but used black/white to make a pile of grey to soften some colors down. In his landscapes for the shadow areas he would first block in a dark blue or purple and then place the local color over it - say a green leaving some of the dark peeking - it dulled down, as you called it.
      He placed a dab of beautiful color in a field of gray and it would sing.
      Glad you found it interesting. He had some great expressions that have stuck with me. One was - "think" beautiful color..look for beautiful color.

  9. Wonderful post Julie. Having experienced Ovanes myself I have to say that he's given me some of the best painting advice I've ever had. And it's a joy to watch him paint!

    1. Great to know you learned from him too. When I saw him I stayed in Rexburg. It was quite a drive to his place. The demo started at 8 pm at night and onetime went to 1:20 AM and still had to drive back to the motel. To this day I still have never seen demos of that large size done so well in one sitting.
      Are you painting at all, Bruce?

  10. I would just have a very wiggly colourful blob if I held a brush like that lol

    1. LOL - That is the whole idea - not to have too much control and let the brush do its thing.

      Hope your mouth has settled down and is more comfortsble.

  11. Good memories, indeed! Thanks for sharing. You have taught me a great deal here on your blog!

  12. Pale warm next to a pale cool...sounds like great advice, especially since from seeing your work I know it works! Beautiful piece!!!

  13. Good to see you posting again Susan. Wonderful, energetic painting.
    Glad you are home and painting for a while.

  14. It's never too early for roses, we have a few than are blooming although it is way too early. Ovanes Berberian should be very proud of his gifted student. Lovely Julie.

    1. Hello Blanche - I keep meaning to ask how your parrot is doing?

  15. Quite beautiful Julie! I see many paintings of flowers, specially roses, but few as beautiful as yours. It is a gift!...
    And I can't wait to see the real thing in my little garden. Have a good weekend! :)

  16. Julie your notes from the workshop were great to see. Especially seen the great advice in holding the brush much farther to the end. That would keep the strokes much more loose. So many wonderful things you shared here. Going back to reread about the chalky color. This is somewhat hard for me to grasp. Think because in watercolor I avoid white paint and let the paper be my whites. It goes without saying though dear friend Your roses are exquisite. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. It is always so helpful. Hugs!

    1. it is the truth - watercolors do use the white of the paper and thats why it is hard to find a chalky watercolor. I have seen it when several colors have been mixed white still wet.
      I adored seeing the Bluebird on your new post. Beautiful photos. Always a pleasure to see your choice of inspiration for the week.

  17. What a gem of a post! That is exactly how he holds his brush. I'm thrilled to read the definition of 'chalky'. He used that term all the time and I really never had it clarified this way. I think he must have been in one of his less talking periods! He is a master and so are you!

    1. I am delighted we share his influence in our thinking about are. He took me from a total tonalist into pushing color just a little bit. You know how they say you are either a tonalist or a colorist...well, he took me in-between.
      He totally ignored me and never did know my name until after the second week. Too old! His focus was on the really younger ones. The best thing about this was I could follow him around and take notes as he worked on other artists paintings. It was wonderful. Best at color than any other teacher I have taken from.


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