Limited Palette: 4 Hues + White – Art Club Assignment

Assignment:  Use only 4 hues or colors to paint a picture.  White can also be used.

  • Use 3 primary colors such as Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow.  Add Raw Sienna or Burnt Umber.
  • Make a color chart to see the range of color you can achieve with this limited palette.
"Face of Christ" was painted using only Ultramarine Blue, Cad Red, Cad Yellow, Burnt Sienna, and Titanium White.  Oil on linen 16 x  20 in.

“Face of Christ” was painted using only Ultramarine Blue, Cad Red, Cad Yellow, Burnt Umber, and Titanium White. Oil on linen 16 x 20 in.

Color charts made by mixing 2 hues at a time.  Start with 1 Ultra Blue to 4 Cad Red,  1 Ultra to 3 Cad, 1 Ultra to 2 Cad, 1 Ultra to 1 Cad, 2 Ultra to 1 Cad, 3 Ultra to 1 Cad, 4 Ultra to 1 Cad, so on and so forth.

Add white  4 or 5 times.

Write your formula down next to or below your color swatch.

Example of a color chart exploring the range of a limited palette of color.

Example of a color chart exploring the range of a limited palette of color.

Elements from the Hudson River School

Art Club

Feb 2011

Hudson River School Elements

Assignment: Incorporate at least 1 aspect of the Hudson River School of Painters into your artwork.

You may consider the following aspects:

  • Composition of subject – study the lines of the mountains, trees, etc.
  • Relationship of sky to land. Ask, “where is the horizon placed?” Will you place the horizon 1/4 or 1/3 up on the canvas?
  • What kind of clouds are used? What is the shape, movement, perspective, color?
  • Use the American wilderness as the subject of the painting.
  • What is the distance from the subject? How far away is the perspective of the artist? How far is the closest object?
  • Include details of nature.
  • Create a vast and sweeping panorama of subject.

For other ideas and to learn about this school of painters, just do a google search and input “Hudson River School of Painters”. if the internet doesn’t work for you the good ol’ library will. Please be prepared to share what you learn at our meeting (about 2-3 minutes worth). Make sure and bring your artwork whether finished or in progress. It really inspires and motivates the rest of us to see others creating.

The Chattahoochee River painted in the Hudson River School Style, oil on linen

The Chattahoochee River painted in the Hudson River School Style, oil on linen

Still Life With Eggs

Art Club  

Assignment:  With the inspiration of ‘slow’ and traditional painting comes a still life with eggs.  A white picture.  In lieu of eggs, simple plaster shapes (ball, square, etc) would be fine but eggs are readily available (no brown eggs please).

The reason for painting/drawing simple white shapes is to increase our ability to draw with accuracy and dimension.  This is easier understood with one color.

The rules:

  • The eggs must be white.
  • There must be at least 3 eggs.
  • The drawing must be life size (yes, you can use a ruler)
  • You should have only one major light source coming from the left.

Optional ideas to include:

  • Use white fabric under and behind the eggs.
  • Use one or more colored fabrics under the eggs to reflect the color.
  • Add fruit.
  • Add a bowl or other kitchenware.

If you are limited by time or have never done this type of exercise, I recommend limiting yourself to the first four rules and don’t take any options, except for placing a cloth or white board behind the still life to simplify the backdrop.  Also, you may draw with pencil or charcoal as well as paint the subject.  I really think this exercise is one worth doing many times as it will help increase our memory for form, ability to see value (light and dark) and drawing skills.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Remember to take your time, especially with the drawing:  try to be accurate and use your thumb, pencil or ruler to measure with your arm extended and one eye closed.  Also, measure negative space between objects for accuracy.
  • You might want to have the canvas at the same level as the still life and on the same plane.
  • Think about the idea that every 3D objet has 3 sides;  light, medium, and dark and that within each side the plane moves from light to dark.  Yes, even eggs have 3 sides.
Art Club Assignment "Still Life With Eggs" by Ginger Dean

Still Life With Eggs by Ginger Dean

Notes About the Exhibit “In Praise of Slowness”

This past month a few of us were able to attend the excellent exhibit at Oglethorpe University Museum, “Slow Painting, A Deliberate Renaissance”.  The artwork was amazing and we had a chance to speak to the museum curator Lloyd Nick.  He spoke with us about the group of artists who have dedicated themselves to the renaissance of beauty and realism in art.  They came up with a manifesto in 2005 that is exhibiting along with the art in the museum.  I thought you would enjoy a few of the ideas:

  • We laud the beauty of skills slowly acquired and the deliberate art that reflects such skills.
  • We believe that the art of the future will be as powerful, relevant, imaginative and as skillfully made as any art of the past.  We reject the notion that art peaked forever in 1500 with the Renaissance, in 1650 with the Baroque or in 1950 with the Abstract Expressionists.
  • We value artistic dexterity like that demonstrated by the greatest artists of the past.  We believe that the mastery of such skills liberates the artist.
  • Like watch g a ballet consummately performed of hearing an aria masterfully sung, we deeply appreciate the visual pleasure of seeing a beautiful work of art that is not found, but slowly and carefully crafted by an artist.
  • Slow art does not mean the lack of spontaneity or free brushwork.  We not only value a delicately painted surface when it is skillfully done as in a I grease or a Raphael, but we laud the skilled bravura as in a Velazquez or a Turner.
  • While we admire and learn from the great art of the past, our face is to the future.  Our aim is not to duplicate the art of the past, nor to denigrate other forms of artistic expression, but to create new artistic standards hitherto unimagined.


Graydon Parrish, Jimmy Sanders, Christopher  Publiese, William Kennon, Christiana Inmann, Mikel Glass, Morley Safer, James Safer, Paul Brown, Brian Le Boeuf, Patricia Watwood, Gregory Hedberg, Laura Grenning, Jacob Collins, Richard Piloco, John Morra, Christopher Forbes, Paul Sullivan, Melinda Sullivan

Fast and Slow Painting

A 'slow' painting with about 20 hours of work invested.  "Daddy's Objects" by Ginger Dean , oil on linen 20 x 20 in

A ‘slow’ painting with about 20 hours of work invested. “Daddy’s Objects” by Ginger Dean , oil on linen 20 x 20 in

Assignment:  Paint two (2) pictures of the same subject.  The first painting will take NO more than 2 hours – no exceptions and you must complete the painting. If you need to attempt the ‘fast’ painting several times, that’s OK.  The other painting of the exact same subject should take between 5-15 hours (OK, more if you need).

 A few objectives for this assignment:

  • Develop both loose and refined styles of painting .
  • Recognize how much time you invest in your paintings.  Keep record of the hours.
  • Learn how a ‘fast’ painting can be a study for a “slower” painting.

 You might be interested in reading:


En Plein Air

Assignment:  “En Plein Air” (in the open air)

“Plein Air” painting takes place outdoors and endeavors to capture light and color accurately in the location in which one is painting.  It is painting from life out of doors.  It was used by the Impressionists to capture the effects of sunlight at different times of day.

Some points to consider:

  • Don’t paint everything you see, be selective
  • Paint small, perhaps 8 X 10
  • Use a view finder (small cardboard with cutout, similar to a camera view) to establish a subject and boundries
  • Focus on what you see rather than what you know
  • A Jullian or traveling easel is helpful but you can use a propped board
  • Scout out a locate  in advance, consider a spot, perhaps with a distant view (local park, estate garden, etc)
  • Paint o e scene for only a couple of hours (preferably no longer than 1 hour).  The light, color, and shadows will all change during the day
  • Put down main shapes first to simplify;  sky, land, trees, etc.
  • Try to set up in the shade and out of wind
  • Think about how to transport your paintings ahead of time:  clips or push pins can be bought to separate multiples
  • If you don’t like spectators, set up with back to wall and respond to inquiries by saying that you are limited on time and can’t talk
  • Dress in layers to be comfortable.  Be aware that the color clothing you wear may reflect off of your painting
  • Bring water to drink, snack, bug repellent, sunscreen, hat, etc
  • Use camera to record scene just in case you want reference to the subject in the studio
  • Bring supplies, trash bag, a checklist can be found at
En Plein Air Painting Chattahoochee National Forest by Ginger Dean

En Plein Air Painting “Suches AreaNational Forest” by Ginger Dean

Surrealism Influence

Assignment:  Execute a painting using surrealism ideology.

Surrealism Definition:  “20th C literary and artistic movement that attempts to express the working of the subconscious by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition [the act of placing 2 or more things side by side] of subject matter.” (from webmuseumparis).  Images have a realistic though irrational style.

 Brief History of Surrealism:  Surrealism grew out of the DADA movement, specifically during the years 1924-1950.  DADA used mostly negative imagery in an attempt to rebel against traditional art, the bourgeois, and war (WWI).  Surrealism used the same type of subconscious imagery but as a positive expression of dream and fantasy with no attempt at logic.  Founded by Andre Breton (wrote “Manifesto of Surrealism”).  Only art produced between 1924-1950 is considered Surrealism by museums.

 Some Artists of the Movement:  Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, Jean Arp, Man Ray, Joan Miro, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Miro, Duchamp, Delvaux, Giacometti.

Ideas for the Assignment:

  1. Paint images from your own dreams.
  2. Paint images from your day dreams.
  3. Copy the work of an existing surrealistic painter.
  4. Copy the composition of a existing painting, interjecting your own images.
  5. Paint images from experiences happening in the news/world.
  6. Paint objects as symbols of emotions/experience.
  7. Paint still life (fruit, china, etc) in a nonsensical way.
  8. Paint images from your childhood/past with fantasy elements.
Surrealism Painting of 'Maternity" by Ginger Dean

“Maternity” by Ginger Dea

4 Hues of Blue

The assignment:  Use at least 4 different hues (colors) of blue in a composition that includes architecture.  Architecture is defined as anything manmade.

Purpose assignment:  To learn more about blue hues including value (light and dark)  and chroma (intensity or strength of color).

Consider:  Making a color Chart of each hue (color) before making your painting.  Begin with the strongest chroma of blue, then add white, black and gray to vary the value and chroma.

Roman Ruins by Ginger Dean

Study of Roman Ruins using 4 different blue hues by Ginger Dean

Hand Study

Assignment:  Draw the human hand

Some ideas for your anatomical study:

  • Use your own hand for a model
  • Read and draw from an anatomy book about the bones, muscles, and structure of the hand
  • Try simplifying the hand into blocks of mass in a drawing before painting
  • Look at Bouguereau, Sargent, Rubens, etc for examples of color studies of hands
Left hand study.  Oil painting on linen 8 x 10

A hand study by Ginger Dean, oil on linen 8 x 10 in

Further References:

  • Contructive Anatomy by George Bridgeman, Dover Press