A Quick Color Paint Test

I mentioned I plan on adding a little color to my life — or, art hobby — in the future.

I also shared a drawing that was created specifically for that purpose.

This past week was spent digging through old paints and brushes, testing things out, and finally attempting a quick color study.

It’s unfinished, and I have no idea when I’ll start working on the “real” version, but at least I finally got that “oh man, can I get back to this?” nervousness out of the way and just gave it a try.

It’s been a long time

I don’t even want to think about how long it’s been since I last used acrylic paints (much less on a regular basis). I painted often as a teenager, slowly gravitated towards watercolor, and switched more and more to ink throughout adulthood.

I also flat out admit I didn’t really know what I was doing back then, so while I’m happy when something feels “familiar” during the process now, I am also forcing myself to rethink things and relearn tricks and tips.

An amusing bit of info — as an artist, I’m weird about color. I’m not that big on fashion, and have had to make an effort to wear color at all in my wardrobe. Otherwise every piece of clothing I’d own would be black (I prefer how I look in black, and the mix-and-match is so much easier when you’re groggy and in a hurry). When it comes to art, I go a bit color happy. Vibrant. I have no idea why… it’s something I just worked into my art since I’m a stylized artist anyway (I grew up on comic books so maybe that’s why I don’t think too much about colors), but I’m trying to study more realistic color shades. And try to ignore the “OMG lookitthisgorgeousvibrantBLUEwannauseiteverywhere!” 😉

As with art (or any hobby) in general, you never stop learning.

Weird paint issues

I had some paint from the last time I tried acrylics, but I was worried they wouldn’t be so great to use. In fact, I have to stir the paint as the liquid separates from the color “paste” that comes out of the tube so I can use it. I’d been given another little acrylic set in a brand I wasn’t familiar with, but they were newer. So I focused on them first.

Starting with good ol’ basic white and burnt sienna, I tried mixing a basic flesh tone. And it was eerily purple-gray. I tried over and over that day with no success, wondering if something slipped in old habits and I was making a vital mistake, but no. It kept turning out a sickish purple-gray that I’d never seen before.

I didn’t kick myself as badly as I might think I’d normally do after a “bad” day with things going wrong (and my usual inevitable self-doubt), and the next day I was determined to mix a better basic flesh tone with extra colors and keep trying. Something nagged at me about the paint from the previous day, and I decided to use my old tube of burnt sienna… and there we go! Much better results! That was even before adding any other colors (like yellow). Apparently there is something wrong with that other paint. I will doublecheck the tube of paint again, but if it keeps giving me the freaky purple results, it’s useless.

That’s a little more like it

Finally achieving normal flesh tones, I decided to grab the watercolor paper printout and start doing a color study. I started the first day, Thursday, messing with the eyes, and moving onto a couple sections of hair. Friday, I had more time to dive in since I was finished checking paints and practicing mixing some colors.

All in a “day’s” work

When I mention drawings take me a day and a half, it’s not really true. If I can’t be interrupted midway (like say, lunch), I will start at a time after that. Say noon or 1pm. My husband usually ends his work day around 4pm, and I like to clean up and scan progress (it helps me see where I might want to make changes, along with allowing us to make in-progress animations if we want). So sometimes I only work a few hours a day, up to about 3pm or so. Rarely do I get much chance to work during the bulk of the day (and with the way my work space is situated, I usually have to wait for late-morning so I have more balanced light).

So this particular color study did not have a lot of time involved. And it didn’t need it, since it not only isn’t finished, it was merely meant as a way to see colors to use or if I needed to buy more.

Still need lots of practice

I didn’t get to do as much work as I hoped however — I ran out of the flesh tone, and would not allow myself to mix more. I definitely need to get something to slow down the drying process (something I love and hate about acrylics — it’s great that I don’t have to wait too long before painting over a layer, but very annoying that the mixed paint on my palette will dry out before I’m finished). I also need to restock some basics I’ll run out of quickly, like white.

I also worked thinly on a lot of the layers, but even while piling the paint up I discovered the printed out guidelines were too dark on this particular study. So attempting to cover those lines and put more detail in areas was useless. Especially as I ran out of the flesh tone mix.

I’ll never be a photorealistic artist — I’m stylized, and I am happier working without that much focus. I have plenty more to learn and push myself to pick up, however.

Lots more work to do

The drawing itself still needs a bit of work before I transfer it to the final canvas to be painted. There are some slight errors that are driving me a bit batty, and a few more decisions I’ll want to make (background color? No background color? Which color or effects?).

The unfinished and quick (only spent a few hours on it) color paint study. I ran out of paint and didn’t want to waste more, so it really is a bit rough. At least it let me know that, in a pinch for something simple like this, I can most likely make do with what few supplies I have. For now, anyway.

I also have a feeling I will probably gravitate more towards watercolor and gouache. I kept wanting to use the paint more like that (probably habit after all the ink washes I’ve been doing the past few years), and I also kept finding myself second-guessing whether or not I should change my mind and skip the acrylic/canvas and continue with watercolor paper and paints. Of course, I’m a little better off currently with what acrylic supplies I have. I need to completely update my watercolor and gouache. There are always other pieces, so I need to focus. Acrylic it is.

About Cynthia Griffith

I have way too many interests and hobbies, and continually cycle through them -- paying attention to some, while others wait for when I can get around to them again. My main interests are sewing and costuming (I enjoy historical clothing, such as 18th and 19th century, as well as fantasy costumes like elves and hopefully someday even dwarves), as well as getting back to art by drawing fan art of Thorin Oakenshield and Company. My husband Christopher and I spend a lot of time together, enjoying the outdoors and shared hobbies such as juggling. This blog and website is my way to share what I'm up to with friends and family.
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2 Responses to A Quick Color Paint Test

  1. Diane says:

    You are SO talented. This is gorgeous!

  2. Thank you, Diane! I really hope I have good luck starting from scratch on the canvas for the “real” version, but I’m still very happy I went ahead and gave this a practice-run. Gave me a few things to watch out for or do a little differently next time. It will definitely be a good idea to test out colors/effects for future paintings, and keep it near the final piece when I’m ready for extra notes. 😀

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