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Old 04-02-2010, 04:31 PM
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Kathrin G. Kathrin G. is offline
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how to mix a bright blue sky colour

I am having big trouble finding the right colours to paint a bright blue sky
I tried Cobalt blue, Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine, but neither colour seemed to do the trick I mixed it with Tit. White and Mixing White in different strengths, added dots of Naples Yellow and different reds (not all at the same time LOL)....but no joy.

What am I missing ? What is your favorite sky recipe ?
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Old 04-02-2010, 05:00 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Have you tried the Phthalos?

If you want to tone them down, burnt sienna can help.

Personally, I am drawn to the Phthalo colors. Aqua has been a favorite.

They are unusually strong, though. A little goes a long way.

You might try mixing them with plenty of medium, or medium plus water. You could also try water-diluted watercolor-like washes.

You can go back over a wash with subtle glazes to warm the horizon or deepen the upper sky.
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Old 04-02-2010, 05:14 PM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

It really depends on the kind of blue you want Kathrin - no help, I know!

If it's a smooth blue, try, as Nilesh suggests, thinnish washes plus scrubbing!
You can also use a sponge for smooth changes in tone - it does work with a little practice!

I use 'Bright Blue - which is like cerulean, ultramarine and the pthalo blues - depending what I need.

There's a classroom in the IK that Elaine did about skies - may be something there to help.
Here's the index of classes cos there may be another there that will give ideas too - thinking of Tony's marine/seascape class.
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Old 04-02-2010, 06:03 PM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Thank you Nilesh I dont own any Phthalo Might need to go shopping now tho
Thank you too Maureen Might indeed find something there
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Old 04-02-2010, 07:18 PM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Have you considered underpainting in an orange. Sometimes it is what is underneath that can make a difference especially if you have some of that color sneaking through here and there.

I happen to think that pthalo blue and turquoise might be a good starting point but that is certainly my humble opinion.
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Old 04-02-2010, 07:50 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathrin G.
...What am I missing ?

Another thing you might want to explore is how to do a graded wash.

This is something that is more often taught in watercolor. There are probably some threads there, in the watercolor forums; and there is certainly much information available in books that cover techniques in watercolor.

Acrylics can be used in the same way, diluted with water.

I think you would be happier with your results after learning how to do this.

It probably works best on watercolor papers, but canvas and other surfaces can be used in a similar way.

***
If you have access to Barclay Sheaks' book on acrylic techniques, he covers something similar (a variation on the usual graded wash techniques), but with acrylics. He calls it the diluted-edge technique. It's in his section on soft edges, on pages 48-49. Basically, as you work your way down from top to bottom, you add a bit of water at each step downward, pulling the paint down into the water. Each step down means more water and less paint or pigment, so the color gets gradually lighter with each step. You just keep 'diluting the edge' as you work down.

The surface is not pre-wetted. The small additions of water are made with the brush, at each step downward as you work your way down.

***
There are additional techniques as well, for achieving these sorts of gradations. One of them: You can put down an underlayer of white acrylic gesso, and then begin at the top with the blue color(s), going all the way across in a band of blue, and then working your way down with small figure-eight strokes (or X's), blending the blue into the gesso as you go.

As you work your way down, if the gesso remains wet or damp and blendable, the blues will get lighter and lighter automatically as they are diluted and mixed with the gesso.

***
The watercolor wet-on-wet techniques are nice to know how to do. They aren't that difficult, if you can find some good instructions. You could give them a try. Keeping the surface wet or moist (but not too wet) is important. You get a feel for what is the right degree of wetness — not too much, not too little. It takes a bit of experimenting, and then it will fall into place.

Last edited by Nilesh : 04-02-2010 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:00 PM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Another vote for pthalo blue.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:03 PM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

I use different mixtures depending on the look of sky I want. But my favorite for sky does involve Pthalo blue, with a tiny touch of yellow added, and then blended with gel medium (not water!!!) to get the shade I want. I usually use gradations of that shade, as skies do vary even within the same scene, depending on where the sun is in relation to the scene, time of day, how much cloud cover there is, etc. Here in the east, I'll add more white than out west, because the air is generally more humid here, scattering the blue more.

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Old 04-02-2010, 08:22 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowbound
I use different mixtures depending on the look of sky I want. But my favorite for sky does involve Pthalo blue, with a tiny touch of yellow added, and then blended with gel medium (not water!!!) to get the shade I want. I usually use gradations of that shade, as skies do vary even within the same scene, depending on where the sun is in relation to the scene, time of day, how much cloud cover there is, etc. Here in the east, I'll add more white than out west, because the air is generally more humid here, scattering the blue more.

Dayle Ann

Good point about the gel.

Using a gel medium, or a slow-drying gel or blending medium, can help. These techniques and mediums are good to learn about and practice, and good to have.

To make your own slow-drying gel medium, just add retarder to gel medium, up to the limits stated on the label.

Brenda Harris is good at demonstrating the use of slow-drying blending mediums.

There are some videos that show her in action. She works pretty freely with these mediums, and shows how to use them well.

http://visualartsnetwork.tv/lessons.html

Last edited by Nilesh : 04-02-2010 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 04-02-2010, 10:32 PM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

The best way to make the sky look really bright blue is to slightly tone down the other colors in the painting. Its not really how bright of a paint you can get, but how the paint relates to the colors around it. Everything thing in a painting is relative. Here is a little chart I did to kind of show you what I mean. The bottom big blue dot is the one the the middle and on the sides of the colors. Then I put a light blue dot inside it to judge the light colors better. Notice how the blue looks different with different colors.

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Old 04-03-2010, 04:37 AM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Oh wow, thank you all for coming to help
Howard, hmmm, you got a good point there. See my sky so far is basically a Cobalt Blue and White mixture and even tho its lots of white, its still too dark in relation to the painting. Now I am working on top of that, but it still seems to drag down and darken the colours I put on top. Need to experiment with that. Thank you
Nilesh, thanks for explaining about the graded wash , will experiment with that on a separate paper too And that link is great, thanks
Bret, thanks Actually, the sky in your signature painting looks just the colour I am after. Is that Pthalo Blue ?
Dayle Ann, so another vote for Pthalo, really need to get my hands on that. Thank you
Kim, thank you That was very helpful indeed

Okay, I better see if I can organise a way to buy some new paint today
Thanks everyone
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:12 AM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Christmas Morning - after Maxfield Parrish

Kathrin - don't know if this will help, but painted back in 2005 - I did the sky with graded washes and would only have used Liquitex Brilliant Blue (similar to W&N Cerulean) and Liqu Ultramarine - cos they'd be the only blues I had then! (Plus tit. White)
I'd also have used water only - didn't use mediums.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:42 AM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Maureen, a lovely demonstration of the way sky color deepens the further from the horizon it is!

The reason for thinning with gel rather than water is to maintain the integrity of the paint film, and its bond to the surface. This is especially important if building up color with layers, or thinning to lighten color as one works toward the horizon. A little water is ok, but the bulk really should be gel. I use GAC100 with a little retarder for this.

A note: many of the "cerulean hues" and "sky blues" sold actually are pthalo with a bit of yellow added! (Real cerulean is hideously expensive.) I always look at the pigments used in various tubes, and quickly learned that I could have a lot more colors by simply mixing my own. Nice thing about that, especially where skies and skintones are concerned, is the control I have about both hue and shade.

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Old 04-03-2010, 09:15 AM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Kathrin I have to agree with Kim, to be brighter it's what's around it not the paint itself. The paint you have will work, the less white or mixing white you use the less ashen your blue will be so you can liven it up with a touch of crimson but very very little if you want, it won't look purple just this side of bright but pale periwinkle actually but you don't need to do that.

Straight out of the tube watered down, Cyan Blue or they call it Primary can do it as well, you can start light and deepen as you rise, using only water and not loose the depth of color either, if you're gonna put in some clouds
that blue will make them stand away if you haze out the edges and shadow underbelly very little with a good Payne's grey, the one that is more blue then gray..Old Holland makes a fabulous Payne's gray.

You'll do fine sweetie, you have lots of suggestions here and as it is I think it's looking good, be nice to yourself stop agonizing...haha

Hugs,
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:52 AM
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Re: how to mix a bright blue sky colour

Or, if ye want it warm, manganese blue is great... but otherwise, been using pthalo and cobalt for years, watering it down in a grading [since have yet to try the Open ones]...

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