Kathy Mason Lerner


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3 panels 3 panels/2 sides colorist color mountains Crimson Bubbles expressionism in California expressionist paintings fine art oil paintings garden paintings Horizontal impressionist Kathy Mason Lerner landscape artist landscape painting landscape paintings meditation Napa Valley landscapes oils on canvas Painting plein-aire paintings rivers Square three panels Vertical views of vineyards vineyard oil paintings Western Hills

Beginning an Impressionist Plein Aire Painting with a List of Pigments

Basic supplies that will get you through the first year

Use Artist grade paint:

— 6 bristle brushes, for painting oils sizes 4 to 8

— Gamsol odorless solvent

— Cleaning jar with aluminum coil, fill with gamsol

— Turpentine cups with lids

— Lots of small cotton rags

— Painting smock

— Standing easel

— Kitchen spray oil

— Pallet to mix paint on

These are  basic supplies that will get you through the first year at least.  Always use a limited palette and your painting will be harmonious.  Mix all your own, mix your own greens.


Always  use the artists grade oil paints, artist grade paint has more pigment in it.  Make sure the paints you use are light fast.  The little stars on the back indicate the stability of the paint, 4 stars are the best.   You do not want to use fugitive paints, 2 stars or under, they will turn brown over time.


Decide your point of view to start a painting,  whether plein air, or still life, find your point of view, and sketch out your picture with thinned yellows. Stay with yellow.


You can keep adding yellow, yellow ochre, burnt sienna and white until you are satisfied with the composition.  Use tiny amounts of pigments to lots white for mixes.  Make the sketch exactly as you see it , not what it is supposed to look like,  then lay in the spaces between the solids, have different piles of paint for three tones, light, medium and dark.


I always use three blues.  Cobalt blue for the vault of the sky, cerulean or manganese blue for the intermediate sky and ultramarine blue for the distance.


Give your picture a sense of place

Sketch out your composition with yellows plus white as yellow is the easiest color to erase.  Keep at it changing your composition until it sits right with you.  Let some of the composition go out of the picture.


Use greys, (neutrals) for your solids leave the pure colors for shadows.  Keep the shadows where you first put them as shadows change thru the day.


When you have decided and sketched your composition, you make a color that is opposite from the yellow, using ultramarine blue and alizarin red for purple,  lay in the shadows as they will change thru the day but leave the shadows as they first appeared.


Keep your palette simple.  Mixing the neutral colors for representing the picture, Use the same mixes throughout for items in the light and mixes for items in the shade, and the shadow should be colors mixed close on the spectrum or the simple local color itself.


Everything you see has light that goes across, light on the top, medium in the middle and dark on the bottom those are called values, keep your values consistent when you use all colors to make a picture that reads. Example: Yellows, have bright yellow, cadmium yellow, or hanza yellow light, and ochre then burnt sienna for darker yellows and a cobalt yellow for the shade or cool yellow. You use purple to make your neutral as it is the opposite of yellow, so just here your pallet has lots of colors, as nature does. You can with this simple pallet make your greens, and green further away have a touch of red in them with more white, because red is the opposite of green. Cadmium red is red in the light and alizarin red is red in the shadow.


As you go further back in space using yellows, this purple plus more white and a touch of ultramarine blue will make your picture go back. To go forward in space use more pure yellow and a touch of cadmium red. Warm advances, cool recedes.


Keep on your palette different piles of paint for three tones, light, medium and dark.


In the shadow, paint the areas as you see them, in this light purple. shadows have three values, take some of this purple and add white to make a medium value, use the mixed purple no white for the dark value and use more white in the shadows outer edges, and make the shapes of the medium tone areas.


As you paint keep your brushes in your left hand, with a clean small paint rag, paper towels will wear out your brushes.  I wipe my brush after each three strokes look at the brush to keep your painting fresh, keep other colors off the brush tip, with frequent wipes, never get the paint in the ferrule, That’s where the bristles meet the metal.


Keep a brush for  each different local color you are using in your left hand, along with a cloth for wiping the brush after a few strokes, this avoids muddiness. For green use a special brush use it only for green. Green is hard to clean off a brush.


Use you right hand for your painting brush. (Opposite if you are left handed.) Go on to work, try to keep in mind that you can always change the work after it’s dry, to free your mind to paint, when you are done and have painted as far as you can without wrecking it, put it aside, and then back to the wall in the studio dry for two days.  Don’t judge it, in a few days you can see where you can fix it without judgment. You have enough information to continue painting the picture in the studio.


It is important then to wipe your brushes gently, swish them around in the coil jar, then wash them as you work, keeping your brushes clean. After your painting session clean brushes in coil jar, wipe, and with brush soap use and a comb thoroughly clean them.  Shake the brushes in the air with swift motions and put away your brushes upright in a jar.  Then you will always have fresh brushes for the next session.  Spray cooking spray on your pallet it will keep your paint fresh. Pour the old solvent from the coil jar into a clean can and let the good pure solvent come to the top and use the sediment for greys, in your painting process.  Reuse the pure solvent in the coil jar adding clean odorless solvent to above the coil.


Spray your pallet with oil spray from the kitchen to seal the air out.  This paint will be usable for days.


You can put smock on a hook to dry, and later wash it in a washing machine, also your smock can be washed in the machine when dry, or clothing can be washed immediately to remove oil paints.  If you get paint on your clothes you can immediately was them in the machine and the paint will come out.