About this Site

Purpose of this Blog is to become a tool and a place where artist that collect and paint flat figures can find interesting links and news about flats, painting techniques, history and various related articles.English speaking related sites are very few but hopefully this blog will provide the collector and the painter with interesting and valuable information about the Art of the Flat Figure and everything related to it.
During the next days I will post any related info I have collected for a long time about various aspects of Flats. Techniques, photos, links, historic articles, anything that is related. Wherever possible I will including the author of the original article. I apologise if sometimes the author's name is not included. It's not intentional but it is lost through time.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Chapter 10 - The Reds & Purples

By Panos Charalampakis
The Reds & Purples

An excellent example of reds in this Swedish banner from Franzoia Serge.

In my opinion, red is the most difficult color to shadow and highlight effectively. If not careful shaded parts will be muddy spots and highlights simply another hue i.e. rose or violet. In my mind I have made two categories for reds. Cadmium reds, light and dark and scarlet is the first, while burnt sienna, Indian and light red, that is the earth reds are the second one.
As we travel back through the ages, colors were not of the rich quality as they are now. Reason is because people were using what nature could provide. Reference will dictate a rough estimation of what pigments were available. For sure, red was a color known since antiquity. Greeks and later Romans used it abundantly for their everyday or military clothing.
When painting cadmium reds start with a darker tone than the one you intend to use. You will see why later. When shading, experiment with adding burnt sienna or burnt umber. Alternatively, try the complementary to red, green. You will be amazed by the results. Shade in steps and don’t try to achieve the final result by first layer. I would advice not to use black for shading because it kills the chroma of red. If you try to highlight with white then violet will be produced. If you try yellow, then orange will appear. This is the reason why you need to start your basic mixture darker than the red tone you are after. Light reds such as cadmium red light, scarlet or bright red can be used as highlights. Add tiny amount of light yellow or white for the outmost highlights but do it really sparingly. On the other hand if you are after a faded, worn look, you can use white a bit more freely. Another good highlighting solution is to use your premade flesh color, in steps, adding a touch of yellow to maintain red temperature.

Above and Below:
Above Peter Ferk’s General Lassale (Quadriconcept 90mm), below “Poetry” by unknown artist (Detlef Belasch 120mm). For the first figure highlights are done with yellow while on the second white have been used producing some pink violet highlights.

The actual color of Tyrian purple, the original color purple from which the name purple is derived, is the color of a dye made from a mollusk that, because of its incredible expense (many times more expensive than gold), in classical antiquity became a symbol of royalty because only the very wealthy could afford it. Therefore, Tyrian purple is also called imperial purple. Tyrian purple may have been discovered as early as the time of the Minoan civilization. Alexander the Great (when giving imperial audiences as the emperor of the Macedonian Empire), the emperors of the Seleucid Empire, and the kings of Ptolemaic Egypt wore Tyrian purple. The imperial robes of Roman emperors were Tyrian purple trimmed in metallic gold thread. The badge of office of a Roman Senator was a stripe of Tyrian purple on their white toga. Tyrian purple was continued in use by the emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire until its final collapse in 1453.
In medieval Europe, blue dyes were rare and expensive, so only the most wealthy or the aristocracy could afford to wear them. (The working class wore mainly green and brown.) Because of this (and also because Tyrian purple had gone out of use in western Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476), Europeans' idea of purple shifted towards this more bluish purple known as royal purple because of its similarity to the royal blue worn by the aristocracy. This was the shade of purple worn by kings in medieval Europe. Also it is considered a funereal color and for that, can be used alternatively for black.
Purple is an interesting color. It can be produced from mixing blue and red and with various proportions you get various purple tones. It can be shadowed by various blues and highlighted by its complementary yellow for some rich violets or white for some faded look. Alizarin crimson belongs to the purple family and not to the reds as many time mistakenly considered. Crimson mixed with blues produces some very interesting shades of purple. I would advice shading it with black as it kills chroma making purple appearing muddy. Some purples are more transparent than others so experiment and use the more opaques for covering work and the transparent for making purple washes when a tint of purplish is needed.

An excellent painting of purples for the dresses of this French queen and for the embroidery by unfortunately by an unknown painter.

No comments: