September 12, 2015

Four New Drawings

#53, egg tempera and graphite on hand toned paper, 15 x 15 in.

I learn a great deal about color, their balances and weights, while I'm working on this series of drawings. I have a color study for each drawing that I do, but they're on white sheets of paper, and their colors never stay the same once the design is transferred to the toned paper. The color of the paper demands a response, of color's main qualities––its hue, value, and intensity––and also of its weight: how transparent or opaque will it be? Because egg tempera in translucent, each color layer will be affected by the color underneath. In the drawing above, I painted the entire diamond shape with the purply color first, then layered the ocher on top of it. But the purple went through several transitions of hue, cooler and warmer, and the ocher was incredibly difficult to balance: first it was too light, then too dark, then too golden (I tried a layer of gold pigment since it's in the color of the toned paper, but it looked awful), then I don't remember what. But finally I got to a color that seems to work with the more transparent purple and with the color of the paper. 

#54, egg tempera and graphite on hand toned paper, 15 x 15 in.

With #54 I fiddled a lot with the value of the blue shapes, making them lighter and darker. Then there was the decision of how opaque to make them: well, because I fiddled with the value, the layers of paint were making the shapes more opaque, so I added a few more layers to make the opacity more of a settled decision. In this photo, the blues don't all look the same, but it's just the way the light is hitting the paint, which has a low gloss, differently.

#55, egg tempera and graphite on hand toned paper, 15 x 15 in.

In this drawing the quality of color insisted that I change my original idea. My thought was to have a blue rectangle on the left partially overpainted by the yellow at the right, to yield a green vertical rectangle in the center. Well, I did that, but the blue was so heavy a color that it looked terrible with the rest of the drawing; its weight was completely wrong. I overpainted it with a light layer of yellow, making it a blue-green, and then it worked.

#56, egg tempera and graphite on hand toned paper, 15 x 15 in.

My color conundrum in this drawing was one of relationships: the yellow shapes at center, when painted the same color, refused to look like the same color. The cooler dark green set up a stronger contrast with the yellow than that with the orange, so the top yellow shape looked brighter. I painted the lower shape with a couple of more translucent layers of yellow and hoped that way to balance the effect....with what is a very odd image altogether, but one found within the basic shapes of the template, based on Islamic design.


  1. All beautiful. 53 and 55 are the most calming for me, a good quality. Is there an emotional quality for each that you attempt to achieve, or is the process more about the aesthetic result with the colors? I like how the colored shapes rise out of the drawn lines, thoughts coming to fruition.

    1. Thank you, James. No.i don't aim for any emotional quality; whatever emerges from he process is fine for me.