Saturday, March 7, 2015

Using Raw Umber, pt. 3- More Experiments (and some successes!)

After the last flurry of experiments, I decided that using Raw Umber was fascinating, but that it was always very richly chromatic, and therefore was only really useful for things in the foreground.  So I decided to about making some experiment with Chinese White and Lunar Black, with varying success.  I'll go into those below.

First, the Da Vinci tube of Raw Umber came in.  Eagerly I opened it up and give it a shot.  Sadly, no love.  :(  It must be manufactured in some slightly different way.  Who knows?  Either way, it disperses when applied wet into wet, and just wouldn't give me those rivulets I wanted.  Dang!  Only the top left of these 4 is with Winsor Newton's Raw Umber, and thus shows some of the rivulets I want..  The others were with Da Vinci.  So, I now have a tube I guess I'll give away to a painter friend.



Then I got a tube of Winsor Newton Burnt Umber.  In a nutshell?  Same issue.  What the heck?!?  Now I've got a second tube of paint that I don't really plan on using.  :(  Only the two samples on the far right (top and bottom) showed the rivulets, and they were done with Winsor Newton Raw Umber.  So, my final analysis on that point is this-- if you want to do this affect, you basically have to use Winsor Newton Raw Umber (and maybe some of those PrismaTek pigments from Daniel Smith?  I'm not sure about, as I haven't tried them and don't have the dough for it.)



However, I did have some success experimenting with Chinese White and Lunar Black.  I premixed a bit of these with Raw Umber, to tone the value and hue down a bit.  This worked pretty well. In this first pic, the version on top of the Dioxazine Purple is pure Raw Umber.  You can see how much darker and browner is it.  The others were mixed with the Chinese White. Still, I'm getting those rivulets and yet the value different. Yay!



In these next two, I  began to explore another new technique.  I put the first wash down, lay the Raw Umber/ Chinese White mix on top of it, ran the water through to carve out the rivulets, and then used the rivulets to "funnel" a new color through the painting.  In these examples, it was either diluted Cerulean Blue or a very watery Chinese White, as I was going for a beach-y feel. Some really interesting results!


In this one, I mixed Lunar Black with the Raw Umber down at the bottom, to pull the corner into the foreground.  I can see using three different mixes to get some real variety in tone and value.



I then took some of these results, and applied it a bit to a quick sketch of one of the mountain images I've been working on.  Not perfect, but some success!



I used the Raw Umber/ Chinese White mixture for the mountains to knock them back some, and then applied a pale blue-grey wash over the top of them, for the cast shadows.  All in all, success-- although I discovered that the Chinese White rewets very easily, and mixes with whatever you put on top pretty readily.  Hmmmmm....  Probably going to need one more round of experiments to get the full tool set under my belt. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephen! Way to go! I just discovered your blog articles about using raw umber and my rivulet technique!!! Yes, it is fascinating, but harder to achieve than it looks... I have also come to the conclusion that Winsor & Newton raw umber does it best. I think there is a sticky quality to this substance that allows the paint to stick to itself, while the water runs through it forming the rivulets. I discovered this effect about 25 years ago while painting the brown earth in construction rubble scenes with bricks strewn on the ground, etc.
    So far I have used the effect mostly in paintings of construction rubble, portraits, statues, and street scenes. I have rarely used it in a landscape because of the problems you mention, such as having an overall dark background, although applying it over only part of the painting is a good idea. Many of my students and other artists in Maryland have tried it with good results. I am glad to see other people giving it a try and it is fun to see what they do with it!

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