I Don’t Blame You

We live in hard times and it is easy to blame all Muslims for the crimes of a few.

Please do not fill your harts with hatred. There is already too much hatred in this world. If you fill your hart with hatred I am sure you will suffer more than any Muslim will. There will be no room left in your hart for love. Your spouse, children, friends and yourself will be the ones to suffer.

Do you believe these terrorists in Paris had any love in their hearts? I don’t and if you fill you heart with the same racial hatred the path you are walking on is not a good one.

My next door neighbours are Muslims. I am a part time artist and their young children have been in my basement studio un-chaperoned. I trust him as he does me.

When I next see him I want to say to him “I Don’t Blame You”.

I ask all Canadians to do the same. In you think you see a Muslim on the street, offer your hand in friendship and simply say to him or her “I Don’t Blame You”. If you work with a Muslim tell him or her “You don’t blame them’ This will work much better than burning down a mosque or assaulting a Muslim women on the street.

The western world has been fighting terrorism with millitary force for many years and the terrorists are still successfully attacking us. Maybe it is time to stop the millitary fighting and try another tract “Love”.

I find a person who is willing to blow themselves up, as a failure of the world’s morals. And we must all share the blame. How can a life be so worthless, sad or filled with hatred they are willing to blow themselves up and everything around them.

Please let’s all simply say to the first Muslim we meet “I don’t Blame You” And maybe we will make this world a better place for all of us to live.

Rattlesnake Point

Rattlesnake Point Autumn ColoursMy Latest painting is of Rattlesnake Point in it’s Autumn colours. It took me around 30 Hours to complete. It is my largest painting so far at 48” x 32”. I painted it from a photograph that I took a year or so before the ice storm of 2013 that devastated so many of our trees.

Rattlesnake point lies just 7.5 km west of the centre of Milton and is about ½ hour walk from my home. It is the southernmost tip of the Milton Outlier which is part of the Niagara Escarpment. In Its geological use, the word “outlier” refers to a portion of stratified rock separated from a main formation by erosion.

I am told, the name Rattlesnake Point has nothing to do with the reptile but has to do with the snake like path of Limestone Creak in the Nassagaweya Canyon just west of Rattlesnake Point.

Rattlesnake Point is one of the hundred or so parks on the Niagara Escarpment. The Niagara Escarpment runs for 725 Km from Queenston near Niagara Falls to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula at Tobermory. The Bruce Trail which is the longest hiking trail in Ontario runs through most of these parks including the Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area.

The limestone cliffs of Rattlesnake Point are a dramatic part of the Niagara Escarpment and overlook the junction of Derry Rd. and Appleby Line and further down Appleby Line the town of Lowville in the Lowville Valley. The drive along Appleby Line between Steeles Ave. and Derry Rd. is not for the feint of heart. The slope down the escarpment is quite steep and has two hairpin turns half way down. It can be quite tough to manuver if you meet another car coming the opposite way. On the day that I took the original photograph I looked over to my right towards Appleby Line and noticed, to my delight, a long line of Ferrari ‘s coming down the the escarpment. They turned left on Derry Rd. and drove right by me honking their horns as I photographed them. Here is one of the photographs I took of them.

Rattlesnake Point 5 Ferrari's

Rattlesnake Point 5 Ferrari’s
Appleby Line & Derry Rd.


The Niagara escarpment was formed over 400 million years ago by the erosive power of pre-glacial rivers and glacial meltwaters that sculpted this geological masterpiece. I do hope my painting has done it justice.

Though I do admit to every colour in the rainbow in this painting the main three pigments I used were Chrome Oxide Green, Red Oxide and Yellow Ochre. Three of the mainstays of my so called Earth Pallett. Simply add Ultramarine Blue and Raw Umber and you have my entire Earth Pallett that I use for almost all my Landscapes. I will only use more saturated colours if they are needed.



Art Galleries or Furniture Stores

Logan Abstract

A few months ago I was painting beside another Artist. I was working on a landscape and she was painting Abstracts. After three or four hours I was happy with where my landscape was and started to pack up. I looked over and noticed that she had completed three Abstracts in the same time.

I commented that she really puts them out and she responded that yes she does. I asked her what she charged for them and what she told me shocked me. I would love to be able to charge that for my landscape paintings. And I told her so. She looked at me with a funny look in her eyes and stated that “People do not buy her Art because it is good or has some inner message”, “People buy her Art because it matches the colours of their sofas”. Then she broke out in laughter and so did I.

Much later in the day I was still thinking about what she said, and I realized that she was not joking. She was telling me the truth!

Now don’t get me wrong. This woman has been painting for many years and knows her colour wheel. And I admit all three canvases were interesting. But putting out one canvas an hour and charging $1.00 a square inch for a 24’x36′ canvas just does not seem right to me. My lawyer doesn’t even charge that high. But if she can get away with it then all the more power to her!

This conversation has haunted me for a couple of months now. How has art sunk so low that the deciding criteria for a work of art is if it matches the colours of ones sofa. It does not seem to matter if the art is good anymore. Just put out lots of it with the current colours found in the furniture stores and the paintings will sell whether they are good or not.

I began thinking something is really wrong here, “Where has or When did Art gone wrong” and the answer I came up with after a fair bit of thought, bothers me even further.

I blame my beloved Impressionists.

Throughout history Artists have been chipping away at the constraints put on art. Each new generation have chipped away at these constraints. But when the Impressionists came onto the scene they smashed through those constraints totally destroying them to the point that I believe Art has never and will never recover. Between Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Monet & Van Gogh all that was considered to be Art was turned upside down, thrown out the window. After these five great artists where through with Art, there were no constraints remaining, anything could now be considered Art.

As much as I love the Impressionists and their Art I almost wish that they had failed.

Now I do not believe that the time I spent at the Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Marmottan Monet, Art Gallery of Ontario, National Gallery of Canada, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in the last 2 years was wasted time. But I do wonder if I may have been better off having spent some of that time at Leon’s, The Brick, Home Depot and Lowe’s.

So don’t expect to see me visiting the Art Galleries quite as much any more. I believe my time could be better spent at the furniture stores watching what colour of sofas the people are buying.


p.s. The image for this post was done by my 4 year old grandson. I do wonder what he could get for it.

Bucherons by Anton Mauve 1880

Boucherons - Anton Mauve 1880

Another completed reproduction.

My reproduction of the painting “Bucherons” by Anton Mauve, 1880, Art Gallery of Ontario is complete. It can be viewed in My Reproductions Gallery here.

I did a tour of the Art Gallery of Ontario for a friend of a friend a few months back. I frequent the AGO often and was happy to do the tour for this woman. I had briefly met her before and knew that she was an artist. It was a bit awkward at first but we soon relaxed and both enjoyed the spectacular Art on display at the AGO. The highlight of the tour was the Frida & Diego exhibition which was in its final weekend and was very busy. The Frida & Diego exhibition is by far my favourite exhibition at the AGO in the three years that I have been a member.

While we were in the Impressionists hall of the AGO the woman pointed out one painting “Bucherons” by A. Mauve that she really admired and asked me if I would paint a reproduction of it for her. As I am trying to learn how to paint and am following the time honored tradition of copying from the masters I said yes I would love to paint “Bucherons”. I have copied a few Monet’s, one Degas, a Cezanne and a Van Gogh and want to do many more from all of the Impressionist painters. You can see my reproductions here

I knew this painting was by an A. Mauve as I have stood in front of it many times admiring it, but I had not yet made the connection that this A. Mauve was in fact Anton Rudolf Mauve best known for his influence on the early work of his younger cousin-in-law Vincent van Gogh.

Anton Rudolf Mauve was born in Zaandam, in the North of Holland on the 18th of September 1838. Anton Mauve was married to Vincent van Gogh’s cousin Ariëtte (Jet) Sophia Jeannette Carbentus, and he was a major influence on van Gogh, who revered him.

Anton Mauve was a Dutch realist painter who was a leading member of The Hague School. The Hague School artists lived and worked in The Hague between 1860 and 1890. They were less interested in the faithful portrayal of what they saw than in conveying the atmosphere and impressions of the moment. Their work was heavily influenced by the realist painters of the French Barbizon School. The painters of The Hague School generally made use of relatively somber colors, which is why The Hague School is also refered to as the Grey School.

Most of Mauve’s work shows people and animals in outdoor settings. His best known paintings depict peasants working in the fields, and especially sheep herding scenes. His paintings of flocks of sheep were especially popular with American patrons. Anton Mauve died in 1880 just two years before his cousin-in-law Vincent Van Gogh committed suicide.

Van Gogh spent three weeks at Mauve’s studio at the end of 1881 and during that time he made his first experiments in painting under Mauve’s tutelage, first in oils and then early the next year in watercolour (previously he had concentrated on drawing). Mauve continued to encourage him and lent him money to rent and furnish a studio, but later grew cold towards him because of van Gogh’s  relationship with Maria Clausina Hornik a pregnant prostitute.

The Bucherons painting was the hardest painting I have completed so far as to me it was a study in creating mud. Everything dull unsaturated colours. I used almost exclusively my standard Earth Palette with a little yellow ochre and dioxazine purple some raw and burnt umber and a lot of greys mixed mostly with dioxazine purple with its complement chrome oxide green. I am very happy with my reproduction of Bucherons as when I look at it I get the same feeling that I get while standing in front of the original at the AGO.

The Ally Point Low Tide – Claude Monet 1882


Claude Monet’s “The Ally Point” painting was my first attempt at a reproduction of an Impressionist painting. In fact it was my first attempt at a reproduction of any painting. I have admired Claude Monet paintings for many years. I believe he was the greatest of the Impressionists as I find his paintings are the ones that engage me the most. He paints 70%-80% of the detail there and my mind fills in the rest as I see fit.

I thought it would only be fair for my first reproduction to be a Claude Monet. I have mentioned to a few people that I started looking at as many Claude Monet paintings as I could, looking for a simple one to do. Most laughed at that statement and told me there is no such thing as a simple Claude Monet to reproduce. Well I do believe that I have proven them wrong.

The Ally Point Low Tide was a painting that I have admired before and I believed that it also qualified as simple one. Not much detail just Sky, Clouds, Ocean, Cliffs and a Beach.

I believe Monet’s “The Ally Point low Tide” painting is from the Normandy coast of France by a small fishing village named Pourville near Dieppe. Monet spent the best part of 1882 near Pourville. Early February he came by himself for a couple of months but in June he returned again bringing his two sons and the full family of Alice Hoschedé whom he would marry 10 years later 1n 1892. His oldest son Jean would also marry Blanche the second oldest daughter of Alice Hoschedé 15 years later in 1897.

The 1880’s were a better period for Monet as he was selling on a somewhat regular period. Impressionism had achieved some public acceptance. France for the most part had recovered from their devastating defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.  Monet was to leave Pourville and move to Giverny at the end of 1882 where he made his home and famous gardens for the rest of his life. There were still signs of Monet requiring financial assistance from Paul Durand Ruel, in 1882 but for the most part Monet was able to pay the bills for the combined family of ten.

I loved the yellow-golds and purples in this painting.  So I decided to give this painting a try. I sure am glad I did as this was the painting that gave me the confidence to try another then another etc.

In my painting the colours are more saturated than the original but I wonder what the original looked like one hundred and thirty-two years ago.

I was not happy with my rendition of the ocean. I did not get his impressionist feel to it. My reproduction has a more realistic feel to the ocean. I tried but the ocean was beyond my abilities at the time to get the impressionistic feel of it. But again it was my first attempt at a reproduction of an Impressionist painting and Monet had been studying and painting the ocean for two decades when he created this painting.

I have been told it is very hard to do a reproduction of an impressionist painting with Acrylic paint. Acrylic paints dry so quickly it is difficult to mix on the canvas. I am so glad I did not know this before I tried or I may never have tried. To get the same effects I had to mix on my palette and or brush to approximate what Monet did on his canvas. I also tried double loading a brush with both a dark and light version of the colour I wanted and apply them together letting what will happen, to happen.

I am sure that the paints I used were different than what Monet had available but again I was not trying to make an exact copy. I was simply trying to see if I could reproduce a painting by the Impressionists.

  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Yellow Oxide
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Raw Umber
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Red Oxide
  • Thalo Green
  • Titanium White


Mill Pond Rock and Fox


Another painting completed!

My Painting “Mill Pond Rock and Fox” is complete. It can be viewed in My Originals Gallery here.

This painting is of the same Rock that is featured in my earlier painting “Mill Pond Rock“. It is just viewed from a different angle and obviously from a different season winter.

Mill Pond is one of my favourite locations for a short walk, photographs and ultimately subjects for my paintings. I feel fortunate to live so close to such beautiful country. “Mill Pond Rock and Fox” is my second painting of Mill Pond in what I hope is to be a series of paintings where I will do at least one painting of Mill Pond every year that I paint.

I took the original photograph while taking good friends for a short hike around Mill Pond, late December 2012 just after the big snow fall. I have many great photographs from that day. The blues were unbelievable that day. Some of those photographs I intend to turn into Paintings.

The blue shadows in the original photograph did not include the large blue tree shadow. That was my addition as well the fox and it’s tracks through the snow were also not in the original photograph. The two snow tracks from lower right to middle left were however in the original photograph. I noticed immediately that I had both left to right and right to left diagonals and many planes for depth. I was sure I had a good composition to start with here.

While working on the painting I thought I would be nice to give the blue diagonal shadows some more definition and the impressionistic large blue tree shadow came to life.

I liked the diagonals running both ways in the photograph but they did not bring the viewer’s eyes towards the main object of the painting “the Rock”. I then though that if I added another snow track from the lower left across the front of the rock that I could use that diagonal and where it crosses the other two snow tracks, so that both crossing points would point directly at the rock.

Next I thought of leaving the animal that created this new snow track in the composition. I thought of a dog or even a deer but decided on a Red fox to add a little hot colour. My next issue was that the trail of the fox would lead it away from the viewer so I needed the fox to turn its head back to the viewer. Fortunately I found a few examples on the internet of foxes with their head turned in the correct manner.

To me this painting works because of:

  • The multiple planes in the painting giving it depth.
  • The impressionist rendering of the large Blue tree shadow brings the viewers eyes into the center of the painting.
  • The composition is full of diagonals. Only one horizontal line that I see.
  • The use of complementary colours of Blue and Brown with Black and White.
  • My composition rule of 2/3rds Temperature – 2/3 cold (blue) 1/3 warm (brown) and a touch of hot (Red Fox)
  • My composition rule of 2/3rds Achromaticity – 2/3 colour (blue) 1/3 Monochrome (Black and White) with a touch of Red.
  • My composition rule of 2/3rds Value – 2/3 mid values (Blue) 1/3 split between high (White) and low value (Black-Brown).
  • My composition of 2/3rds Saturation – 2/3 saturated (Blue) 1/3 unsaturated split between White, Black and Brown.


Taking Beautiful Photographs

Bermuda South Shore Beaches

Taking beautiful photographs does not require an expensive camera. It just takes a good eye and the understanding of several composition Rule-of-Thumbs.

I am often asked by friends and family about the beautiful photographs I am taking and how do I do it. I hear comments like Milton is so beautiful. Well yes Milton is beautiful but me the  photographer has some part in it as well.

A client of mine who has now purchased two of my paintings was amazed when he asked me if had more paintings in mind to paint. I said yes and then showed him over a dozen spectacular photographs that I took this Autumn and Winter in the Milton Ontario area where I live. He then asked how do I take such beautiful photographs.

So today’s blog is about my process for taking beautiful photographs.

When I step outdoors with my camera, I look for two types of pictures. I find I get lots of the first and if I am lucky I will find a few of the second.

  1. The first and simple one is reference photographs, an interesting tree, animal, rock etc. It is always some kind of an object.
  2. The second and far more important one is something that be translated into a great painting.

While taking pictures for reference I am always looking for the second type. For a picture to qualify for the second type I look for what I call my Composition Rules-of-Thumb.

All of my Composition Rules can be found in my Glossary here but I am including them in this blog for simplicity of reading.

I begin with what I call my Composition Rules of 2/3rds.

They are all based on 2/3 of something, 1/3 of something else and a touch of a third.

  • Composition Rule of Chroma:
    • Saturated, Medium & Unsaturated. For a good composition you should have 2/3 of one 1/3 of another and a touch of the third. A composition of 2/3 and 1/3 of the extremes is difficult to make effective. Try hard not to have 50% one and 50% the other.
  • Composition Rule of Temperature:
    • Warm, Neutral & Cold. For a good composition a painting should be 2/3 of one 1/3 of another and a touch of the third. A composition of 2/3 and 1/3 of the extremes is difficult to make effective. Again 50/50 does not work well.
  • Composition Rule of Value:
    • Light, Medium & Dark. For a good composition you should have 2/3 one 1/3 another and a touch of the third. A composition of 2/3 and 1/3 of the extremes is difficult to make effective.  Again 50/50 does not work well.
  • Composition Rule of Achromaticity
    • White, Black and Colour. Piet Mondrian often used this one in his abstracts where 2/3 was white, 1/3 was black with a few touches of Colour. This composition rule is great for winter pictures with snow and a creek, small river or parking lot. You have the black and white, now can you find the colour? This composition rule is just a further extension of the Composition Rule of Value.
  • Composition Rule of Edges
    • Sharp, Medium & Soft. The same 2/3, 1/3 and a bit rule can be used with edges. Try to use 2/3 soft, 1/3 medium and only the main focus/ subject matter sharp.

Next I will look for:

  • Composition Rule of Odds
    • An odd number of objects or an odd number of groups of objects is generally found more interesting.
  • Composition Rule of Facing In
    • All key subjects in a painting should face into the canvas not out of it. Bottles and glasses lying on their side should point horizontal or upwards to the top of the canvas.
  • Kissing Objects
    • Objects should not touch or should clearly overlap. Objects that just touch create weak masses that confuse the viewer.
  • Evenly Sized or Spaced Objects
    • Objects that are evenly spaced out or all the same size are found to be boring.

If the scene, image or photograph in front of me conforms to all or most of these composition rules then I am satisfied that I can turn this image into a successful painting.

If the image fails on any of these composition rules, I then try to determine if I can change anything to allow the image to conform without losing what attracted me to the image in the first place. Kissing Objects and Evenly Spaced Objects are very easy for the painter to resolve but the photographer needs to change his view angle, move closer or farther from the objects etc.

Next in my quest for beautiful photographs I try to place the main object of interest using the:

  • Composition Rule of Thirds
    • Dividing the canvas into thirds both vertical and horizontal and placing the main feature of the painting on one of the four intersection points is found more interesting. Most cameras have the rule of thirds lines on the focus screen already for the photographer. Just put your main subject on one of the four intersections and have the subject facing towards the other three points and you will instantly take a better picture.

Though I do not think of it as a composition rule, I look for diagonals. Diagonals are known to excite the human eye. The eye will follow the diagonals more often than not into the center of the photograph than out of it.

Lastly I ask myself do the colours work or conform to:
  • My Composition Rule of Hue or Colour Harmony:
    • Selecting colours from equidistant points on a colour wheel tends to create a painting where the colours harmonize. Use of standard geometrical shapes on a colour wheel can help. Use an Equilateral or Isosceles Triangle for three colours, Square or Rectangle for 4 colours, pentagon for 5 etc.

There is no question that my understanding of these composition rules has improved my photography.

I am starting to notice these composition rules are happening with me at a subconscious level. I am getting far more beautiful photographs without thinking about them, which are translating into more opportunities for me to produce successful paintings. My friends and family continue to comment about the beautiful photographs. My wife is posting these photographs on her Facebook page and is getting lots of likes about them.

Well the cat is now out of the bag. My secrets have been exposed for all to see. I am waiting to see if my friends and family do start producing beautiful photographs.


Mill Pond Rock


My Painting “Mill Pond Rock” is complete. You can see better versions of both images in my Gallery here and my original photograph here.

I believe “Mill Pond Rock” is a close copy of a very famous painting by Claude Monet titled “The Magpie”. It is obvious that one is a winter painting and the other is an autumn painting but the differences stop there.

To start both paintings are a twist on the standard “X” composition. Many paintings with a straight road or a path with a tree line display this “X” composition. The edges of the road or path converge uppwards to the vanishing point on the horizon and the tree lines converge downwards to the same vanishing point creating an “X” composition on the canvas.

If you look at the tree lines, the shadow lines, all the diagonals in Monet’s painting “The Magpie” you will notice they create an off-center “X” composition. This “X” composition has been known to artists for hundreds of years, to lead the viewer’s eyes to the Object of Interest over and over again, or in the case of “The Magpie” painting, to the Fence Gate. Once the viewer’s eyes land on the gate, they then see the Blackbird (Magpie).  Painting a reproduction of this Monet painting “The Magpie” taught me so much about composition.

If you look at my painting “Mill Pond Rock” you can see I have used a different twist on the “X” composition but it is definitely and consciously there. I thought the wake of the ducks was very opportunistic to complete the bottom right leg of the “X”. I assumed the ducks were swimming over to me to get a hand out of bread but I had nothing to offer them.

The similarity in the two paintings continues where Monet has the horizontal fence cutting across the canvas, I have the horizontal shoreline, my main point of interest, the rock is located very close to where Monet’s point of interest, the gate is and if you look at the right edge of Monet’s painting you will find a wedge of snow that points to the fence. If you look at my painting and photograph of “Mill Pond Rock” you will see the same wedge in the same place.

When I took the photograph I knew I had a great composition and I was excited to get home and see it on the computer screen. I realized while taking the photograph that it had a similar composition to Monet’s “The Magpie”.

Mill Pond is located in Milton, Ontario where I live. It is an easy one minute walk from Main Street. I can walk to it from my home, I have walked to it but it is a good forty minute walk. I usually drive there, park behind Main street and walk around Mill Pond taking photographs then stop at the coffee shop in the center of the town. Often my wife accompanies me.

When I got home that day I could not believe just how similar the photographs were to the famous painting. The photographs were even better than I had expected. I wanted so desperately to paint one but did not believe my skill set was ready yet for me to paint it. I waited well over one year before trying to paint it. I practised painting the bodies of the geese as american footballs where I could paint them with one stroke of a filbert paint brush. I studied how the impressionists, more so how Cézanne painted their/his forest landscapes. I am so glad that I waited.

Before I started the painting I considered the composition for the painting. It was so easy for me as I had gotten the composition correct in the photograph. Objects are facing in, odd number of objects or points of interest, warm reds to play against the cold greens, lots of diagonals present etc. I played up a few things but the only real thing I changed was the far right goose faces into the painting where it faces out of the photograph.

When I look at my “Mill Pond Rock” painting I see 1 Rock, 2 Ducks and 3 Geese. I actually notice the geese before the ducks but that is semantics. I like the progression 1,2,3. I think it is neat but it added up to 6 which is an even number. I also looked at it as 1 rock and some birds but that again added up to an even number of items of interest. This is where I believe the top left warm red oranges of foliage are important to create the third interest point of the painting. Add to that the trees and the water and I have 5 masses. Odds all around so it passed my test of odds.

The Red Orange foliage also creates week diagonals that point to the center of the painting and as well adds some contrast and warmth to balance a painting dominated by greens. The tangle of leaves on the right side of the painting have a dominant point to the center diagonal as well. So it also passed my test of warm/cold and of diagonals.

This painting is by far my best on many different fronts and I will be hard pressed to sell it. But if the right offer comes I could be tempted to sell it.



Landscape Painting – Using Blacks and Whites


When I think about Landscape paintings I think about the bright colours, like the foliage Greens, Turquoise oceans, Blue mountain ranges, Red maples and Golden oaks of Autumn, Orange, Red or Violet sunsets, etc. I don’t often think about Blacks and Whites. Proper control of these two achromatic colours is essential for Landscape painting.

I find that there is very little information available in regards to using Black and White paints for Landscape Painters. Black and White are two paints that are so essential to my paintings and I hear even less about the Opaque and Transparent properties of them.

Blacks and Whites, I use two of each and in both cases, one is Opaque and the other is Transparent. Knowing when to use the Transparent version over the Opaque version is not rocket science. Opaque paints are great for covering over something. Where Transparent paints are great for glazing over something to change the Hue or Value.

White – The reflection of all visible rays of light

The two Whites I use in my paintings are:

  1. Titanium White – Opaque, neutral in colour and has very strong tinting strength.
  2. Transparent Mixing White – Transparent, neutral in colour and has very poor tinting strength.
  3. By mixing the two you can get a translucent white.

Rules of Thumb When Mixing with White:

  • Adding White to a colour will lighten the color but also causes a hue shift that cools the colour. Adding a touch of the next warmest colour to the mixture can resolve this problem.
  • Adding White to a dark transparent pigment tends to increase the chroma of the mixture up to a certain point. Using a Transparent White with a dark transparent pigment tends to achieve better results.
  • Adding White to an Opaque pigment tends to diminish the chroma. Again a Transparent White will lessen the issue.
  • Adding Titanium White to any colour tends to give a chalkiness or “pastel” quality to mixture.
  • Adding Transparent White tends to lighten the colour as expected.
  • Mixing any Red paint with small amounts of Transparent White will tend to produce a lighter version of the Red.
  • Mixing any Red paint with Titanium White will quickly give you Pink.
  • Add Titanium White to coloured Paints.
  • Add Coloured Paints to Transparent White.

It takes very little Titanium White to overpower most paints but it takes a lot of Transparent White to overpower another paint.

I find using Titanium White works well for Pastel like Impressionist style paintings. Titanium White also works well for the underside of leaves as they are a lighter, chalkier tint of the top colour of the leaf.

I find Transparent White and Grey are great for giving a painting depth through atmospheric Perspective.

Black – The absence of or complete absorption of light.

I do not use any store-bought or single-pigment Blacks. They are just too black for me.They are too difficult to handle and can often look like a hole in your painting. I prefer to mix two different versions of Chromatic Black. Again one is Opaque and the other is Transparent.

The two Chromatic Blacks I use in my paintings are:

  1. Opaque – Mixture of Liquitex Ultramarine Blue and Raw Umber.
  2. Transparent – Mixture of Liquitex Alizarin Crimson and Phthalocyanine Green.

For my Opaque Chromatic Black I use Ultramarine Blue which is translucent and Raw Umber which is Opaque. Mixing them together in a 1 to 1 ratio gives me a simple, quick and beautiful, reasonably dark, Opaque Chromatic Black.

For my Transparent Chromatic Black I use Alizarin Crimson and Phthalocyanine (Phthalo) Green. It takes a lot more Alizarin Crimson than Phthalo Green to mix a Chromatic Black so measure out the amount of paint needed with Alizarin Crimson then add small amounts of the Phthalo Green into the mixture until Black is achieved.

Rules of Thumb When Mixing with Black:

  • Adding Black to mixed colours generally reduces the chroma more rapidly than the value, drawing the mixture along a curved path rather than a straight line to Black.
  • Adding Black to a colour will darken the colour but usually causes a hue shift that warms the colour. Add a touch of the next coolest colour to the mixture to resolve this problem.

If I find I need a very Black Black. I will paint a first application with the Opaque Black, wait for it to dry then paint over it with the Transparent Black. Thus using the rule that a Transparent paint will always darken.

I find I do not often use my Blacks to darken colours. I prefer to use the colours mixing complement to darken with. I do however, mix colours into my blacks to push the Black Warmer or Colder and I do often mix White into my Blacks to produce Greys.

Grey – The partial reflection of all visible rays of light

There are many ways to make Grey. Mixing Black and White is just one of them. Mixing any colour with its true complement will mix to a Chromatic Grey or Black. Mixing Transparent White and Transparent Black together can make wonderful useful Transparent Greys.

Rules of Thumb When Mixing with Grey

  • Mixing a Grey with any other paint of the same value usually alters the Hue and Value as well as the expected Saturation.

I use Transparent Greys with touches of other colours for atmospheric perspective. I can create a one-dimensional landscape painting completely ignoring the Atmospheric Perspective and come back later and glaze over it with a transparent Grey, thus creating the Atmospheric Perspective. To push an object farther back I may use a second or third application of the same transparent Grey.

To represent a sunny day I may add a touch of transparent Phthalo Blue to the transparent Grey or for rainy days I may use a touch of Brown. For objects far in the distance I may use a touch of Violet or Ultramarine Blue to the Transparent Grey. For early mornings I may add Yellow or Orange and for late evenings I may add Orange or Red. I find glazing for Atmospheric Perspective far easier that mixing all the required paints up front.

One Last Note:

Mixing combinations of Blacks and Whites, Transparent and Opaque paints together will result in Translucent Whites, Greys and Blacks that are very useful for fog and smoke like effects.

I hope this information will help you with the use of Blacks and Whites in your Landscape paintings.



Ten Most Controversial Impressionist Paintings

Why did the Impressionist art movement cause so much controversy? What was it about the Artists and their Art that caused this controversy?

Every new kind of art has always caused controversy. The public are uncomfortable with anything new. The Art Establishment and Artists are often threatened by it. Impressionism was new and thus it was controversial. The disregard for detail, bold brush marks, bright colours, coloured shadows, and the attempt to catch fleeting moments in time, were all new concepts in Art. The impressionist artists also caused controversy by rebelling against the controlling Art Establishment. Almost everything about impressionism was controversial and even today their Art still causes controversy, by the prices that their works are fetching at auctions.

First a few comments that were made of the impressionist’s and their works

  • The impression produced by the Impressionists is that of a cat walking on the keys of a piano, or a monkey that has got hold of a box of paints.
  • A critic, Albert Wolfe, described an impressionist exhibition as having been put together by five or six lunatics, one of them a woman, a group of unfortunate creatures seized with the mania of ambition.
  • The same critic later noted that some people burst out laughing in front of these things – my heart was crushed by them.
  • Another critic Louis Leroy wrote of impressionism “Impression—I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it … and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.”

The Ten Most Controversial Impressionist Paintings.

  1. The Luncheon on the Grass – Edouard Manet
    The Luncheon on the Grass – Edouard Manet

    the-luncheon-on-the-grass-1863.jpg!BlogSmallThis painting is perceived as the most controversial Impressionist painting of all. Manet shocked the French public with this painting “Luncheon on the Grass”. A nude woman casually having lunch with two fully dressed dandies. The woman’s body is starkly lit and she stares provocatively at the viewer. This was an affront to the propriety of the French bourgeois, and was accentuated by the familiarity of the figures. Manet’s wife, Suzanne Leenhoff, and model, Victorine Meurent, both posed for the nude woman, which has Meurent’s face, but Leenhoff’s plumper body. The two men are Manet’s brother Gustave Manet and his future brother-in-law, Ferdinand Leenhoff.

  2. Olympia – Edouard Manet
    Olympia – Edouard Manet

    This painting is perceived as the second most controversial Impressionist painting. “Shocking” was the word used to describe this masterpiece when it was first unveiled in Paris in 1865. Why was there so much controversy surrounding what is perhaps the most famous nude of the nineteenth-century? The objections to Olympia had more to do with the realism and contrasts of the subject matter than the fact that the model was nude. Manet based Olympia’s composition on “The Venus of Urbino”, one of the famous masterpieces by the Italian painter Titian. A very pale reclining nude woman stares again provocatively at the viewer, who is being attended to by a very black maid and a black cat. One can almost believe she is amused by the controversy she knows that she is about to cause. The public were so outraged by this painting that the gallery was forced to hire two policemen to protect the canvas?

  3. The Absinthe Drinker – Edgar Degas
    The Absinthe Drinker – Edgar Degas Blog Small wikipaintings.org

    The Absinthe Drinker was shown in the third Impressionists exhibition in Paris in 1877 the painting was deemed ugly and disgusting and was thus put away for five years. It was shown again in Paris 1892 and received the same kind of response. Why would somebody want to paint the ugly dark side of the Paris Cafés? One year later when shown in England in 1893, it again sparked controversy about the degeneration of the Paris bourgeois and the danger that the Absinthe drink posed to society. The Irish novelist George Moore upon first seeing the painting stated “What a Whore”. George Moore did later apologize for the comment. The painting was originally bought by Brighton-based collector Henry Hill.
    The drink Absinthe was given the affectionate name “the green fairy” but was also referred to by the less affectionate name “a ticket to the madhouse”. One of the main ingredients of the Absinthe drink, Thuzone was an oil extract from the wormwood plant and was believed to have psychoactive qualities and was also highly addictive. Absinthe was later banned throughout most of Europe and the USA. More…

  4. Impression Sunrise – Claude Oscar Monet
    Impression Sunrise – Claude Monet

    This controversial Impressionist painting is the painting that started it all! Monet originally named this painting Impression but Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s brother Edouard needed a proper title for the Impressionism Exhibition Catalogue. Edouard added an explanatory ‘Sunrise’ to the name. Thus started the story of this amazing group of painters. Impression Sunrise was to lend its name to the whole art movement due to an article by critic Louis Leroy, for Le Charivari that unmercifully ridiculed it. Leroy meant to discredit the Impressionists works, instead, he gave them their name.
    A further controversy surrounding the painting Impression Sunrise was that Ernest Hoschede, a wealthy department store owner, purchased it for 800 francs, shortly after the first Impressionist Exhibition closed. Nineteen years later Claude Monet would marry Alice the wife of Ernest Hoschede in a modest ceremony in Giverny, after the death of her first husband.

  5. Study Torso Sunlight Effect – Pierre Auguste Renoir
    Study Torso Sunlight Effect – Pierre August Renoir

    This controversial Impressionist painting of a semi nude woman  with sunlight filtering through the trees was first displayed in the Second Impressionist Exhibition in 1876. Study Torso Sunlight Effect was the consummation of Renoir’s studies of light playing on the human body in the open air. Renoir chose to emphasize the effects of light on the female torso instead of the specific characteristics of the model Anna Leboeuf.
    This painting is a forthright denial of local colour in favour of a wide range of reflected light effects and as such was particularly badly received by the critics. The sunlight, filtering through the trees, produced a mottled effect on the womans torso and clothing.
    Albert Wolfe, a consistently vicious critic of the Impressionists, upon seeing this mottled effect, wrote a comment for the popular Le Figaro on April 3, 1976: “Try to explain to M. Renoir that a woman’s torso is not a heap of decomposing flesh covered with green and purple patches, which are the sign of advanced putrefaction in a corpse.

  6. The Artists Studio – Frederic Bazille
    The Artists Studio – Fredrick Bazille

    the-artist-s-studio-rue-de-la-condamine-1870.jpg!BlogSmallFrederic Bazille is probably the least known of the Impressionist artists, but could have been the greatest. Bazille was born the same year as Renoir in 1841 but was the only member of the impressionist group that saw front line duties in the Franco-Prussian War. Bazille was extremely tall and was probably not a good candidate for the front lines of a war. Unfortunately he was killed in action in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. What makes this painting controversial beyond his short life span was that when Bazille declared the painting finished, to his friends who were all in the painting, Edouard Manet declared that it was not finished. Manet then grabbed Bazille’s palette, paint and brushes and proceeded to paint Bazille into the painting. Bazille is the tall individual in the center to the right of the easel.

  7. The Lane of Poplars at Moret – Alfred Sisley
    Lane of Poplars at Moret – Alfred Sisley

    This controversial Impressionist painting gets its’ controversy in that it is arguably irresistible to thieves, as its August, 2007 removal from the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nice marks the third time it has been stolen within thirty years.
    First in 1978 when on loan in Marseille (recovered a few days later in the city’s sewers). Next in 1998 (in which the museum’s curator was convicted of the theft and jailed for five years along with two accomplices) and for a third time in August 2007. It was later recovered on June 4, 2008, by the French National Police along with three other stolen paintings from inside a van in Marseilles, France.

  8. The Card Players – Paul Cézanne
    The Card Players – Paul Cézanne Blog Small

    This controversial Impressionist painting currently holds the record as the most expensive painting ever sold. Cézanne painted five versions of the Card Players. Three of the five versions have the same two men sitting across from each other playing cards with the same table and bottle of wine. This version of The Card Players is the one that recently sold for two hundred and forty-nine million dollars. That is well over one hundred million dollars more than the previous highest sale of a painting. Two men playing cards and a bottle of wine on a small table, for two hundred and forty-nine million dollars? Is any painting worth that much? More…

  9. Dr. Paul Gachet – Vincent Van Gogh
    Dr.Paul Gachet – Vincent Van Gogh

    Dr. Gachet was the Doctor that was taking care of Van Gogh at the time when Van Gogh committed suicide. This painting suggests many interesting things about Van Gogh’s state of health and mind.
    A letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo stated that Vincent Van Gogh believed that Dr. Gachet was sicker than himself. This painting clearly supports Van Gogh’s letter. It portrays in Dr. Gachet’s posture and face with depression, sadness and melancholy.
    A Second Controversial topic to the painting was the significance of the branch from the foxglove plant. The Foxglove plant was used to produce a heart medicine called Digitalis that may have been used on Van Gogh to control his seizures. Van Gogh showed some of the side effects of Digitalis poisoning in the halos around bright objects (Starry Night, Starry Night over the Rhône and Cafe Terrace at Night) and a tendency of seeing yellow more dominantly. But these paintings were all painted while Van Gogh was at St. Remy asylum before he was in the care of Dr. Gachet.

  10. The Red Vineyard – Vincent Van Gogh
    Red Vineyards at Arles – Vincent Van Gogh

    This was the only painting by Van Gogh that sold during his life. The Red Vineyard painting was displayed and sold in 1890, a mere six months prior to his death, in Brussels to Anna Boch for 400 Francs. Anna a painter herself was the sister of the Eugène Boch, another impressionist painter and friend of Van Gogh.

    The sale of the Red Vineyard painting may have played a part in the suicide of Vincent Van Gogh, as his brother Theo wanted to send the money from the sale to him. But Theo’s health and future at Valadon & Cie was in question. There is a belief that Vincent, in seeing that his paintings were starting to be recognised, decided to committed suicide to increase the value of his paintings so his brother Theo, wife and child would receive all funds from the sale of his paintings.

You can read more of my blogs on the Impressionists here: