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1. Cast Shadow in the Foreground


I painted a watercolor demo during a daylong visit to Favilli Studio, a multidisciplinary design group in South Pasadena. 

I walked down to the Arroyo with a group of designers and chose this view toward the York Avenue Bridge. I wanted to paint the forms—arch bridge, trees, and embankment—as realistically as I could.


But the light was overcast the whole time, so I decided to invent some light and shadow effects. 

I figured that I could make the planes of the retaining wall much more clear if I cast a foliage shadow across it, with the dappled spots of light following the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal planes.


The cast shadow serves two purposes. It invites the viewer to move from the dappled foreground shadow, where they seem to be standing, into the brightly lit middle ground, where Jeanette is standing.

The foliage shadow also helps to define the plane changes as the ground slants up and over the embankment wall.

Shadows can be a powerful tool for expressing plane changes, as Arthur Guptill demonstrates in this plate from Color in Sketching and Rendering (1935).
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Previous posts:
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Learn more methods in my video  Watercolor in the Wild

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2. Grayed CMY Experiment


Here's a color experiment that I tried a couple of days ago.

I set up for an outdoor gouache painting in Laguna Beach, California. I limited the colors to intense versions of cyan, yellow, and magenta, plus white.

I picked the most highly saturated or high-chroma versions of them that I had: Holbein Prussian blue [PB 27] (I could have used phthalo blue if I had brought it), Winsor and Newton lemon yellow (I could also have used Cadmium Yellow Light), and Holbein Carmine red (Naphthol), plus Caran d'Ache white.

Using these ingredients, I tried to paint a grayed-down painting out of them. I didn't want to allow any bright colors in the final image.


What a fun and strange feeling that was, like trying to drive a racing car in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Just touch the accelerator and it wants to blast off. Each of those colors has so much firepower, but I had to put on the brakes at every stage by restraining each color by using the other two as a complement.

No matter how hard I tried to achieve quiet, neutral colors, one of those strong colors wanted to dominate.

This challenge is the reverse of starting with a limited palette of pigments and trying to stretch those colors to be as pure as possible, such as in the painting above, which used a limited palette of weak colors: raw sienna, Venetian red, cobalt blue, and titanium white.

For more about limited palette experiments, see previous post on Limited Palettes.

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3. Reflected light in shadow

This oil painting by Charles Courtney Curran (1861-1942) shows the Water Gate at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893.

Here is a good example of the color of shadows, something that cameras can't capture as well as the human eye.

The sources of light in shadow are very distinct: blue sky, orange ground, and white architecture, and there are white planes facing in all directions.

The direct sunlight is coming from behind and to the right, making the illuminated surfaces a bright white.

There are two main sources of light in the shadow: warm light bouncing up from the ground, and blue skylight from above.


At letter (A), left, the upfacing shadow planes on the roof are receiving mostly blue sky light.

(B) and (C) are down-facing planes. The light is mostly warm-colored bounced light from the ground.

The far side of the arch (D) is getting very strong reflected illumination from the brightly lit opposite side of the arch, as well as apparently some greenish light from the water in the canal (not visible in this view) passing beneath the gate. 

At (E), the columns are a little bit lighter than other parallel vertical surfaces. They're projecting outward, receiving quite a lot of light from all directions, both warm and cool. 

It's possible that the columns appear bit lighter because they're a slightly lighter local color. According to an old description, the facades were made of "staff," a mixture of plaster, jute fibers, and horsehair, painted in cream and gold.

The "White City" was torn down less than a year after it was built. 
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The topic of light in shadow is covered in my book Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, which U.S. customers can purchase signed from our web store.
Color and Light is also available from Amazon. It's the ultimate gift for the artist in your life.

The Curran painting is a recent acquisition of Godel Fine Art. Godel will be represented at The American Art Fair, November 16th – 19th at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, New York. There's another scan of the image at Skinner Auction, where it sold recently.


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4. Rendering Big Hero 6

The new animated film Big Hero 6 uses a new rendering system developed at Disney Animation Studios that simulates the effect of light on surfaces with much more subtlety and nuance than in previous CGI animated films.

The rendering system, called Hyperion, manages the huge computational volume required for ray tracing. In a ray-traced image, the graphics system tracks the behavior of light rays that interact with various kinds of surfaces before passing through the picture plane. 

Any given light ray may bounce as many as 10 times, creating all sorts of secondary shadows, reflected light, or subsurface scattering. The inflatable robot character called Baymax is a perfect proof-of-concept for the rendering system because of all the internal scattering inside the vinyl skin.


Although the designers could have used this system for a photo-real image, they were very conscious of keeping to the stylized character of the animated world. 

The film is set in an alternate universe of "San Fransokyo." It not only had to combine design elements of east and west, but also had to be extremely detailed and layered to allow for some fly-through sequences. 

The geometry was connected to an actual street grid of San Francisco, and the assets can be reused for future films and games.


Both the rendering software and the architectural generator put immense demands on the Disney supercomputers. Tech supervisor Andy Hendrickson said "This movie is more computationally complex than our last three movies combined."


In this video, Norm from Tested interviews Mr. Hendrickson about the techniques and challenges. (link to video).

Book: The Art of Big Hero 6
Ray tracing on Wikipedia
All images ©Disney 2014

Speaking of animation, I'll be a speaker at CTN Animation Expo at Burbank in less than two weeks, giving presentations about Color and Light and Imaginative Realism. Hope to meet you there.

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5. Sweet thoughts

DSC_1672Little bee, no swerving from your line when you deliver the goods back home.

A busy place with no door but when you enter you still use your buzzer.

Then back again from flower to flower, collecting the pollen that gives you power.

It’s home again, little bundles carried to feed the Queen


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6. Pug Portraits: Boots & Weezy

These cute little devils are Boots & Weezy, and I was lucky enough to be commissioned to capture their full puginess in these 9x12 gouache portraits. These dignified likenesses are now in their new home in Portland. Thank you, Ame for this wonderful project!

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7. Weaving warm and cool threads throughout the picture

Hans Heysen (1884-1968) was an Australian painter who was born in Germany. He achieved a luminous, colorful effect with a very simple warm-cool palette.


In the watercolor painting "Midsummer Morning" 1908, his color range is restricted to blues and yellow/orange colors. You could achieve this effect with just ultramarine and raw sienna, and maybe a raw umber for darks. 

The warm-against-cool is orchestrated throughout the image as a whole, but also in its microcosm of small planes. In these details of the image, note how the far forest is held to an atmospheric light, cool value, with the nearer tree trunks edge lit and receiving warm reflected light. 

In the shadow side of the sheep in the sunlight, the top planes receive blue skylight, while the bottom planes receive warm reflected light. The bellies of the sheep in shadow receive much less of that bouncing warm light, so they're darker. 
These effects are most striking when looking toward the light, whether in watercolor (above), or oil (below).

Hans Heysen, Droving Into the Light, 1914-21, oil on canvas, 121.9 (h) x 152.4 (w) cm

Heysen himself said, "Keeping the trees solid in the morning light was the difficult thing, I think it was something I was striving for all my life really. The subtlety of the tree combined with the beauty; the bulk, the solidity of the tree, and the character of its growth. And the movement, that’s something we mustn’t forget … I had my special trees, and they altered their appearance—the time of the year and the angle of the sun made all the difference. You could paint a tree one day and get all its various facets. And the next day it would be a different tree."
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More about Heysen at the website of the National Gallery of Australia

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8. Home Grown Books

Homegrown Booksby Cecile Dyer and Kyla Ryman (Home Grown Books, 2014)

Homegrown Books Homegrown BooksI’ve written before about how I’m a sucker for board books, but this new-to-me publisher has raised the board book bar. These books are both meaningful and beautiful, which is a touch balance to strike in a book so seemingly simple. This one, Dress Up, shows a series of cats with killer expressions donning all sorts of odds and ends. A fancy cat fastens a bow to one side, a dapper cat sports a vest. Mask! Scarf! Glasses! Cats with style, for sure.

Homegrown BooksThis board book is a second edition reprint, because it originally showed up in teensy paperback form as part of a 9-book Little Reader series, The Play Book Set.

Homegrown Books

Homegrown BooksSee Dress Up up there with the orange cover? The insides are similar, but the pictures are bordered with white space holding the words.

Nothing in these books is too cutesy, too precious, or too simple. The art is sophisticated, accessible, and challenges a little brain’s wonderings.

Homegrown Books Homegrown BooksKids need good art, and Home Grown Books is doing a bang up job fitting that bill. (Plus, any sax-playing hen is fine by me.)

Clever packaging includes tips on how to read with the bittiest in your family. Talk about the pictures! Make connections! Everyday concepts meet rich art. It’s a lovely thing.

Homegrown Books Homegrown Books

Eco-friendly and recycled paper to boot! Lots to love about these new books on the block. Find a babe, stat.

Here’s illustrator Cecile Dyer talking about watching the world, interacting with young readers and artists, and of course, these these tiny, book-shaped treasures.

ch

 

 

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9. Banana Demo

Yesterday I painted a half-hour still life demo in gouache for the Painting 1 class at Texas A and M, where I'm here this week as artist in residence. 

James Gurney at Texas A&M, photo courtesy Felice House
The subject is a banana sitting on a red piece of paper. Painting a high chroma object strongly lit against a high intensity background is the same assignment that the students have done earlier. So they get to see me wrestling with the same issues that they have faced. 



Every color that we see is a combination of the color of the light and the actual color of the surface (or "local color"). In this case, the down-facing planes in shadow are receiving reflected light from the red paper, shifting those color planes toward orange. 

As the top planes turn toward shadow near each end of the banana, they catch the blue window light, which mixes with yellow to make green. 


I make an effort to vary the edges around the form from soft to hard to soft. Nearly the whole painting is done with 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch flat brushes. I turn the brushes edge-on for the thin lines, and use the corner of the brush for the dots.

Painting by James Gurney. Photo by Felice House
Gouache colors include: white, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, and cobalt blue.

These are the only colors I have on the trip. Traveling with carry-on luggage means cutting back the colors so that they fit in the 3-1-1 TSA bags.

The palette surface is a metal pencil box primed and then painted white with enamel spray paint. The palette is held to my lightweight sketch easel with Neodymium magnets.

The students ask great questions throughout the session. Many of them are using what they're learning from these painting exercises to inform them in their 3D digital lighting projects.

Seated to my right is the professor of the class, Felice House. She says that the assignment "The Banana on Red" is a teaching project that originated with her first painting teacher at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, named Sheila Provazza.  

Whew! After that it's time for lunch and art talk with some of my student pals from the Department of Visualization. This week is going so fast for me and Jeanette and we're having a blast. 

If you can, please come on by College Station tonight for my Dinotopia lecture. I'll be glad to meet you or sign whatever books you bring afterward. 

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10. The Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn

The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn by Eric Von Schmidt

by Eric von Schmidt (Houghton Mifflin Company Boston, 1964)

Okay. It’s time for a teensy bit of name dropping. I have this cousin who is a brilliant singer and songwriter and he’s racked up a few Grammys as well. (Do you say Grammies? I don’t think so.) If you are into good, old-fashioned bluegrass and Americana, check out Jim Lauderdale. Musicians are such great storytellers, don’t you think? Sometimes I wonder if I can pack the same amount of heart and soul into a 500-word picture book that he can in a 3-minute song.

That’s partly why I was so drawn to this book, The Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn. And that was even before I realized that there were all kinds of connections to song. That title begs to be picked and strummed, right?

The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn by Eric Von Schmidt

I purchased this book a while back from Elwood and Eloise on Etsy. The owner, Mallory, also runs an excellent illustration blog, My Vintage Book Collection (in blog form), which is an incredible archive of gorgeous out of print materials. Thank goodness she sells some of her collection, cause I’ve added some sparkle to my own thanks to her shop. (Also, the images in this post are courtesy of her post here.)

This is the story of Jeremy Sneeze. Where he fails as a farmer he succeeds at making children laugh. (Which is to say by wiggling his ears.) He replaces fallen birds nests and makes pictures and poems. And so, of course, the elders of his town denounce his slack and shifless ways. A town meeting. A crow. A spell is cast. A sneeze. A surprise.

The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn by Eric Von Schmidt The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn by Eric Von Schmidt

This book’s design is reminiscent of a song. Here’s what I mean. That color—washes of analogous color in oranges and yellows and greens, those are the harmonies to the stark black’s melody. It’s steady and rhythmic like the downbeats of an upright bass. Unless they are splashed and chaotic like a mandolin’s intricacies.

The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn by Eric Von Schmidt The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn by Eric Von Schmidt

On top of stellar bookmaking, the story itself is a sweeping epic wrapped up in the short pages of a picture book. Listen to some of its lines:

Just about then he would get to puzzling about other things like “How high is up?” or “Who plants the dandelions?” or “Where do the stars go during the day?”

And every year all Jeremy had to offer was a big weedy field filled with assorted brambles and unchopped briars, bounded by dirty broken boulders.

Flap-flap, past bats that watched with eyes like razors, past lizards, toads, and laughing spiders, down past rats and rattlesnakes and monkeys dreaming evil dreams of moons.

We have specials today on stars that dance or boiling oceans, and a bargain rate for setting mountains into motion.

He hurled himself at the brambles and flung himself at the weeds with such speed you couldn’t tell which was hoe and which was crow.

True enough he is a sorry farmer. But in his head dwell pictures and in his heart are poems.

The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn by Eric Von Schmidt

The listen-ability, the meter, the storytelling grumble. It’s all here. What a gem.

P.S.—A bit of poking around online still left me slightly confused about the history of this book and the similar-ly titled song. Did the book inspire the song? Did the song know about the book? I think the song inspired the nitty-gritty backstory of the young man who wouldn’t hoe corn. I can’t really tell, so I’ll just be sitting here enjoying both. Hope you are too.

ch

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11. Firebird

Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myersby Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers (Penguin Young Readers Group, 2014)

Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

When you open a book to sweeping, fiery endpapers, it’s almost as if you can hear the symphony begin. The author, Misty Copeland, is a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater. The illustrator, Christopher Myers, is a Caldecott Honoree for Harlem and the son of the legendary Walter Dean Myers.

We are in stellar storytelling hands.

Firebird_MC1

(image here // Copeland dancing the Firebird)

Firebird_MC2

(image here // Copeland dancing the Firebird)

Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

Christopher Myers’s art captures the lines and shapes of a dancer’s movement. Intricate, suspended, and dizzying.

Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

Misty Copeland’s words are fire and poetry to a timid youngster’s soul.

Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

I adore the anticipation in this spread, the dancer waiting for the curtain to rise, and I imagine a lump in her throat and a belly full of as many swoops as the folds in the curtain.

Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

Each page turn reveals a composition that is even more striking than the last. This is a pairing of musicality, movement, and a jaw-dropping array of colors and feelings. The way her words and his pictures create an animated harmony is exactly how music and movement do the same in the ballerina’s world.

A perfect pas de deux.

Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

For more on Misty Copeland, take a look at this. She is a lovely storyteller, both in her books and with her body.

 

 

Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

ch

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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12. Pika

Christine Marie Larsen Illustration of a Pika

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13. Sweater Weather

Illustration of a woman wearing a sweater by Christine Marie Larsen

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14. Solstice Effect

Here's an unusual effect in Indiana where the sun is setting directly behind us due west on the Solstice, and the light bounces back from all the signs lined up due east.

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15. Pixar supercut arranged ROYGBIV


ROYGBIV: A Pixar Supercut from Rishi Kaneria on Vimeo.
Editor Rishi Kaneria excerpted short scenes from the Pixar films and arranged them according to the spectrum, showing how much individual sequences are shifted to a particular narrow color gamuts. (Link to Vimeo video)

Here's the color script for the movie "Up." The high-chroma sequences are interspersed between gray or neutral ones, and the intense colors are reserved for important emotional moments of the film.

Film = color + time.

This color script for "The Incredibles" not only suggests a palette of colors for each sequence, but a set of basic geometric ingredients, known as the "shape language" for that part of the film.

All images © Disney/Pixar, via TNW

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16. Mix It Up!

MixItUpCover

(image via here.)

by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle Books, 2014)

First of all. Welcome to the new Design of the Picture Book! I’m super excited to feature this particular book as the first spot in my face-lifted blog–its heart and soul of art and play is exactly what I think these new digs represent.

Do you see? The logo! The colors! The Book Party? THE BOOK PARTY?!! (If you are in a reader, click over and see all the goodies. And for the love, please join the Book Party. I mean really.)

Super huge thanks to Sara Jensen for, well, everything. (#taken)

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

It’s here. This highly anticipated follow up to the smash hit Press Here is muddled-up fun and completely magical.

Remember those rolls of endless butcher paper and squishing your fingers into as many paint puddles as possible? That’s what this book is. It’s a lesson in color mixing wrapped up in a hefty dose of play.

Mix It Up by Herve TulletMix It Up by Herve Tullet

Slam the book together so the yellow and blue make green. Shake it on its side and watch purple drips racing off the page. What happens when you add some white? Or black? Or stick your hand right in the middle of the mess?

Mix It Up by Herve TulletMix It Up by Herve Tullet

It’s a color theory primer and an invitation to get dirty. And isn’t that the best kind of creating?

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

I’m a grownup. I get the gig here. And still I looked at my palm when I flipped the last page of this book, sure it would be dripping with paint.

Welcome back to childhood. It’s good here.

Want to win a children’s painting studio worth $500? Check out the details here, and tweet away using #MixItUpBook!

P.S – If you need more Hervé Tullet (and the answer is probably yes, yes you do) check out this other experiential art book for tiny, creative minds.

ch

I received this book from the publisher (right back atcha, #chroniclecrush!), but opinions are all mine.

 

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17. A Very Special House

A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak

by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins, 1953)

School’s been back in the swing of things for a couple weeks, and it has been bananas. But I’ve got this beautiful new space and some read-in-me-for-hours lounge chairs and the kids named our bright new sitting area The Birdhouse. This week: shelves and books. The heart and soul.

The Birdhouse

That’s why I needed to visit a book that is about all of those things: comfort and wonder and imagination and a very special place.

A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak

I love this little dancer-dreamer: dee dee dee oh-h-h.A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak

This book is the hope of yellow and the broken-in-ness of blue overalls and the loose lines of childhood. This book started with two masters but belongs to the rest of us. It’s root in the moodle of our head head heads.

A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak

And this is what I want for anyone who finds a story in our very special place: A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak

They and I are making secrets 

and we’re falling over laughing

and we’re running in and out

and we hooie hooie hooie

then we think we are some chickens

then we’re singing in the opera then

we’re going going going going ooie ooie ooie.

The view

ch


Tagged: color, libraries, maurice sendak, ruth krauss, stories

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18. Sing like nothing else matters !

When you are feeling all alone, if you just sing out loud you may be surprised how many others will join in with you …JDMn6Birds62920141


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19. Complementary Shadows

Arbi asks: "Could you please explain about 'complementary shadows?' Some attribute complementary shadows to the Impressionist habit of painting the reflected color of blue sky in shadows, and others attribute it to simultaneous-contrast. Is it real? Do you use it in your painting, and how do you implement it?"

Maxfield Parrish

Arbi, it's a little of both. In most sunny conditions, shadows really are in a complementary color range compared to the sunlit surfaces because they're lit by the relatively blue skylight.

By contrast, the sunlit surfaces are lit by the sum of the sunlight and the skylight, with the sunlight dominating. It's easy to demonstrate this with a camera that is color balanced to sunlit white paper. When you take the same white paper and photograph it again in shadow, it's clearly bluer.

The effect is heightened late in the day as the sun is lower in the sky. More of the short-wavelength is scattered out of the sunlight, leaving more orange or red light, and making the color contrast between light and shadow more obvious.

(A brief caution on the above: the shadow side of any object receives not only skylight, but also reflected light from other sources, so if those sources of reflected light are very warm, and the sky is blocked by trees or clouds, the shadow might be very warm, too.)

These are all from the shadow side of a white building. From the post "A White Building in Shadow"
At the same time, our visual system is set up in such a way that exposure to any color causes adjacent colors to appear complementary, so a yellow square next to a gray square will make the gray square look bluer.

This is an effect I like to use a lot, not only to simulate the "Golden Hour" time of day, but also in small ways, to alternate relatively warm and cool colors throughout a picture.
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Previously on GJ:
Golden Hour
Induced Color
Warm and Cool Colors
A White Building in Shadow
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter on Amazon



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20. Greenbelt

Christine Marie Larsen illustration of a greenbelt. Forest trees mountain.

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21. Put Up or Shut Up / It's Canning Time!

Illustration of canning jar by Christine Marie Larsen. Canning, preserving, jams

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22. Who's gonna be at XOXO?

Christine Marie Larsen illustration: xoxofest attendees sketch

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23. Abbott Color Wheel



Russ Abbott is launching a Kickstarter campaign for a gamut mask tool that lets tattoo artists select exactly the color scheme they want from the wide range of available ink colors.

Abbott Color Wheel on Kickstarter
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, #1 on Amazon/Painting

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24. A Sly Suitor

Getting ready for Open-Studios here in Santa Cruz, I decided to try a new inking and watercolor combination.



via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1sEOid2

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25. A Sly Suitor



via Emergent Ideas A Sly Suitor


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