How to Make Gray and Brown Paint Using Primary Colors

This title was presented by the Editors as a challenge, so how could a painter resist it? My first reaction was to wonder why anyone would bother, when more subtle and compatible neutrals can be achieved in other ways. I could visualise how it might be done but I had not tried it in reality. So, still in my night-dress, I slipped out to the studio early this morning and experimented. See what you think of my results, below.

And for those readers who are taking the first steps on their journey towards becoming an artist, I will add some definitions as we go along.

Neutral hues: The Neutrals can be crudely classed as Grays or Browns. In experienced hands, they are a number of extremely subtle blends of the colours used throughout a painting. They can, however, be made by mixing the three Primaries. Here's how:

1) Making Grays

The simplest way to achieve Gray from mixing the three Primaries is this: Blend equal parts of Blue and Red, resulting in a crude Purple. Into that mix add small portions of Yellow until a dark Gray appears. To lighten its Chroma* you can - very carefully - add small quantities of White.

*What is Chroma?

This value refers to the darkness or lightness of a colour.

2) Making Browns

Blend equal parts of Blue and Yellow, resulting in a crude Green. Into that mix add small portions of Red until you achieve a suitable Brown. For example, you may want a Brown of less intensity or Chroma for your current painting.

It might seem obvious to add White to your new Brown mix. But this would be a huge mistake. Instead, add more Yellow.

All of this mixing should take place on your palette, using a palette knife. This is the one and only way to achieve 'clean' colour mixes, vital when you are using Gray or Brown. In the excitement of creating a new painting, it is fatally easy to reach for a brush and start mixing colour straight onto your canvas. Despite what you see in Hollywood movies about famous artists, you can never get all the pigment out of the bristles by wiping your brush on a rag or by rinsing it in turps. The residue of colour will end up in the new mixes and turn them into mud.

TIP. I urge you to get into the habit of using your brushes for laying on the paint, never for mixing it.

You can make far more subtle Neutrals from the colours you are using in your current painting. For example, if you are painting a landscape with storm clouds above, you have likely used Cobalt Blue mixed with White in the sky background. If you wish to make a Gray to define those clouds further, you can do this:

Take some of your Cobalt Blue, mix it with its Complement* - Burnt Sienna - and you will get a subtle gray tone that you can vary by mixing in some White.

*What is a Complement?

This is the colour which is opposite the Dominant* Hue on the Colour Wheel. For example, the Complement - or opposite - of Blue-Purple is Yellow-Green.

*What is a Dominant Hue?

You've guessed this one, right? It is the colour or Hue used most extensively in the painting you're working on. So, if your painting is a portrait and you need to enhance the subject's hair colour with a dark but neutral Brown, try this:

Mix the Red earth, such as Burnt Sienna - that you have already used for skin-tones in your portrait painting - with Ultramarine Blue to make a deep but neutral Brown.

When you want to make Neutrals, either from the Primaries or in other ways, experimenting is the only way to find the mixtures best suited to your personal style and chosen subject matter. A bonus is the fun you'll have doing it.(C)Dorothy Gauvin

Dorothy Gauvin is an internationally acclaimed Australian painter in oils who specialises in an epic theme of Australia's pioneers. See images of her 'Life-Story' portraits, an ABC of homemade tools for painters with arthritis, plus tips and advice for aspiring artists and collectors on her website at

Original article

The Hudson River School of Painters

1. Forces and Philosophies behind the Movement:

At the dawn of the 19th century, everything in America was new. Towns were new. Government was new. Infrastructure was new. Even its spirit was new. And a new breed of painters was about to capture it on canvas. But their origin, like many of the country's aspects, can be traced across the Atlantic to Europe-in this case, to the Romanticism movement.

Spreading across the continent during the previous century, and serving as the artistic core of poetry, painting, and even architecture, it replaced the traditionally restrictive, intellectual and factual approach to life with one of contemplation and expression, particularly of its awe-inspiring features, such as its vast forests and limitless skies. These, according to this philosophy, could only have been created by a Source far greater than the contemplator, and it took his limitless soul to be able to connect with it. Finite intellectual understanding, it was concluded, was no opponent for infinite creations.

Artistic works served as expressions of what may have been man's ascent back to his original, enlightened origins-namely, that he had begun to (re)realize that he was a combination of physical, intellectual, and emotional properties, and it was only the latter which had enabled him to replace reason with emotion, gaining a new relationship with nature in the process.

Like a series of lights re-lit after a long, dark winter, this philosophy spread across Europe, each of its countries beginning to flicker as they focused on their natural beauty.

Art, traditionally following form, now did the opposite. Instead of reflecting a formal English garden, for instance, paintings now increasingly represented informal nature, which was seldom so meticulously patterned and planned-at least not by man. Scenes appearing on canvases were representations--not artificial, idealized images-and with them came acknowledgment and acceptance of what "is" and not what "should be."

A counterforce, opposing order, balance, and symmetry, arose.

Society, again only subconsciously aware of its impinging enlightenment, evolved, as expressed by its shifting beliefs. Medievalists, for example, had viewed nature as sinful, seeped with Christianity-incompatible pagan gods, while Classicists felt that, if nature were left untamed, that it would remain chaotic. As a result, it could only be rearranged into proper order by the touch of man. But Romanticists saw it as a natural expression of faultless beauty to be enjoyed and appreciated, and man's hand only marred, spoiled, or uncreated it.

Although these forces and philosophies ultimately floated across the Atlantic, there were several fundamental differences to the movement, which began to take root in North America. The European philosophy was, first and foremost, a revolt against classical traditions and their established beliefs. Because the New World had no formal school of arts--whether they be of the painting, prose, or poetry genres--before the dawn of the 19th century, there was no need for such a counter-movement. Traditional portraiture constituted the primary artistic legacy of the latter, 18th- century Colonial period. That few examples of landscape painting remain from this era indicates that little value had been attached to it.

But 1800 would serve as both the threshold to the new century and to its shifting values. Having already established its foundation of independence and government, America now turned its attention to its aesthetic side, establishing pride in the natural beauty its new shores had provided. The principle medium through which this pride was expressed was art.

Like a collective canvas waiting for a brush, the Hudson Valley posed for painters, enticing them with its lush river, forest, and mountain vistas, and providing the stage where that beauty could be captured, expressed, and interpreted. The stage, in essence, served as the incubator of an American painting movement.

The Catskill Mountain House, the country's first resort, opened in 1824. Along with the Hudson River-dotted summer retreats, it attracted tourists and travelers, who were spurred into exploring the area by a flourishing economy. Since America's still budding, nature-expressing trend arose in original form as Romanticism in Europe, it is not surprising that it was carried across the ocean by a European, who became one of the earliest venturers to be lured here by its pristine beauty. His name was Thomas Cole.

2. Thomas Cole:

Born in Bolton-le-Moor, Lancashire, England, on February 1, 1801, Thomas Cole served as an engineering apprentice in a calico print factory before relocating to Philadelphia as a young artist. Despite having subsequently embarked on an overland wagon journey to Steubenville, Ohio, with his family, he quickly aborted the attempt, returning to pursue a career as a textile print designer. It provided an initial, albeit tenuous, connection to art.

That connection, however, was more firmly established in 1819 when he was given his first exposure to tropical seas and majestic mountains during a trip to St.. Eustasia. The images impressed on his soul would later be transferred on to canvas.

A self-taught artist, he elected to acquaint himself with painting fundamentals the following year, after which he became an itinerant portrait artist in Pittsburgh and Ohio. He first drew at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1823.

At the quarter-century mark, several career-shaping events occurred: he moved to New York City; traveled to the Hudson Valley for the first time; sold three, notoriety-sparking landscape paintings; and began to spend his summers on a Catskill farm called "Cedar Grove."

3. Cedar Grove:

Initially traveling to the village of Catskill in 1825, he returned the following year to board at, and establish a rural studio in, a small outbuilding on the 110-acre Cedar Grove farm, which sported a Federal style, mountain-facing house owned by local merchant, John A. Thomson. The view became his life-long inspiration.

Indeed, in his "Essay on American Scenery," written in 1835, he expressed how the landscape had featured "varied, undulating, and exceedingly beautiful outlines-(the Catskills) heave from the valley of the Hudson like the subsiding billows of the ocean after a storm."

Taking long, frequent walks alone, he became mesmerized by the vistas of both the Hudson River and the peaks triumphantly raising their heads to the sky behind it, sensing the Source which had created them.

As the arm of that Source, he both liaised between and expressed the two on canvas-in the process sparking the beginning of what would evolve into two early-19th century trends: a strong national interest in American scenery and the religious awe with which it became associated. Because nature was a form of God's work, landscape painters were credited with alerting others of this fact.

According to Matthew Baigell's book, Thomas Cole (Watson Guptill Publications, 1981), " ought to be a ladder by which people might rise to see spiritual reality shining above base nature..."

Aside from embodying this philosophy, Cole's paintings offered the viewer a unique perspective, implanting him, for the first time, in the raw, untamed, and uncensored American wilderness, which he recreated by means of colors and techniques, in unprecedented detail, demonstrating what traditionalists considered its "imperfections." These ranged from broken tree stumps to unsightly underbrush and jagged mountain edges.

Topographical variations, emphasized by sun and shade alike, evoked mystery and terror.

His painting process was also less than traditional. In an 1838 letter to fellow artist Asher B. Durand, he detailed his compositional methods and creative techniques. "...I never succeed in painting scenes, however beautiful, immediately on returning from them," he explained. "I must wait for time to draw a veil over the common details, the unessential parts, which shall leave the great features, whether the beautiful or the sublime, dominant in the mind."

Cedar Grove proved instrumental in both his professional and personal life. After a decade of summering there, he permanently planted his roots in Catskill soil on November 22, 1836, when he married Maria Bartow, one of Thomson's nieces, in the west parlor, subsequently taking up residence in the house's second-floor rooms. He also completed his first major series of paintings, "The Course of Empire," for which he was most known.

In order to accommodate the large canvases needed for the second series, entitled "The Voyage of Life" and commissioned by wealthy philanthropist Samuel Ward, three years later, Cole moved into a barn-resembling structure he designated the "Old Studio." Ward, in the event, died that November, before they could be completed.

The "New Studio," an Italianate building on a knoll overlooking the Catskills and the only building he ever designed himself, replaced the old in 1846, but it was only used for more 14 months until his own untimely death at age 47, of pneumonia, on February 11, 1848.

In addition to "The Course of Empire" series, which depicted the rise and fall of civilization, and "The Voyage of Life," which demonstrated its mutability, Thomas Cole left numerous paintings, including the "Lake with Dead Trees" of 1825, "Kaaterskill Falls," "Falls of the Kaaterskill," "Landscape," "A View Near Tivoli," "The Notch of the White Mountains," "The Old Mill at Sunset," and "Mount Aetra from Taormina."

Despite his short life, he nevertheless set the tone and revolutionized the themes, styles, and methods which became characteristic of American landscape painting, enabling future generations, in his own words, to "know better how to appreciate the treasures of their own country."

Cole's initial, and recurrent, inspiration can be viewed from the main house's porch, which provides a picture postcard view of the Catskill peaks, such as Palenville, gathering spot of Hudson River artists throughout the 19th century; Kaaterskill High Peak; and Thomas Cole Mountain. Their significance to him is expressed by his very poem, "The Wild," written in 1826 and reprinted on the porch's plaque. "Friends of my heart, lovers of nature's works, let me transport you to those wild, blue mountains, that rear their summits near the Hudson's wave."

Although Thomas Cole's untimely death may have signaled the end to his painting philosophies and styles, it had actually been just the beginning of them, since he had already passed the torch to a student. His name was Frederic Edwin Church.

4. Frederic Edwin Church:

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, to a family, which had been prominent since the city's very founding, Church knew, from an early age, that art had been his life's calling. The most pivotal step toward that goal had been his acceptance as a student of Thomas Cole, then considered America's most respected landscape painter, in May of 1844.

The two-year pedagogy, held in Cole's west bank Catskill studio and costing $300 per annum (plus $3.00 per week for room and board), enabled him to see through his teacher's eyes before establishing his own style. His teacher's influence was, nevertheless, evident in his later painting, "Morning," of 1856.

Like Cole, Church drew inspiration from the area's namesaked mountains. Serving as "lesson plans," they were considered "steps by which we may ascend to a great temple," and were transformed into drawings, sketches, and paintings. One such lesson, taught on a bluff designated "Red Hill" and located on the river's east side, enabled Church to both capture the Catskills from its greater elevation and lay the foundation from which his home would someday rise.

Although he had initially focused on painting landscapes in the Hudson Valley, he soon hungered to serve as intermediary between more of the world and his canvases. Particularly peaked, in interest, by Baron Alexander von Humbolt's Mexico, Caribbean, and South American Kosmos volumes, he elected to make his own sketching trips to the southern hemisphere in 1853 and 1857, during which its rich tropical foliage and mountain silhouettes provided the scenes for such paintings as "Chimborazo," "View of Cotopaxi," and "Heart of the Andes."

Church employed a progressive process to his creations, communing with nature during the summer and creating "sketch snapshots" in the form of graphite (pencil) drawings to preserve the visual memories, coupled with notes and verbal impressions. More than observing, he studied nature, becoming immersed in it and gaining considerable understanding of it before capturing it with his brushes. As interpreter, he recorded his translation in painting form, transforming it from three-dimensional reality to two-dimensional representation on usually very large oil canvases in his studio during the winter.

Several elements are indicative of his style. Abundant vegetation, for instance-usually appearing in the foreground-served to draw the viewer into the scene, placing him above and at some distance from the represented landscape. Using light, he captured water and ice with a wide range of colors, while streams and lakes served as sun-illuminated elements. Leaf, flower, rock, and boulder details were painted with infinitesimally detailed accuracy.

The sky served as Church's most consistent inspiration, enabling him to capture its cloud types, colors, shapes, and hues after obsessive study of them, and rainbows, most often associated with waterfalls, were also frequently featured.

By the end of the decade, Church temporarily turned his attention from painting to searching for a suitable location where he could raise a family, although even that was influenced by his budding years. Indeed, he could conceive of no more appropriate place than that which had allowed him to return to his roots.

5. Olana:

Acquiring 126 acres of fields and woodlands in early 1860, including the very Red Hill from which he and Thomas Cole had sketched, Frederic Church, now married to Isabel Carnes, built a white, clapboard house designed by Richard Morris Hunt and dubbed "Cosy Cottage." The mountains visible across the azure stretch of river from it at times resembled green velvet pyramids and at others waves suspended at their crests.

With the birth of his third child-and intermittent, premature deaths of his first two due to diphtheria-he purchased an additional 18 acres of land, which blanketed Summit Hill, in 1867, on which to build his definitive domicile, a French manor house equally designed by Hunt.

Yet, inspired by the European and Middle Eastern research trip he took between 1867 and 1869, he restyled it mid-stream, to feature Moorish elements, with the aid of Calvert Vaux, a noted architect who had worked for Andrew Jackson Downing. Aside from providing the material for his eventual, continuity-of-human-civilization series of paintings, the trip also enabled him to determine how a house of true strength and integrity should appear, as demonstrated by the stone structures seen in Beirut. Optimum elements, he had decided, included thick, almost fortress-indicative walls and a central courtyard in Persian style. His success as a painter left no monetary shortage for the project.

Vaux, replacing Hunt as architect, employed his reputation-earned flexibility in designing according to client need and suggestion, as Church definitively determined the house's height, architectural details, and decoration, using his own artistic talents and consulting books about Persian architecture to determine the most optimum ornamental motifs. The former, particularly, enabled him to create decoratively detailed elements, from staircase balustrades to interior wall stencil patterns, and resulted in a rich, if not eclectic, collection of Moorish tiles, Turkish carpets, Near Eastern brass, Italian Old Master paintings, and teacher (Cole) and student (Church) works.

Construction of the imposing Persian palace propped 600 feet above the Hudson and offering pristine views of the Catskill Mountains, was completed in 1872, but interior decoration was achieved over several more years, during which Church and his family already occupied the rooms.

He described his home as "Persian, adapted to the Occident," and explained that its "interior decorations and fittings are all in harmony with the external architecture." Its name, "Olana," was chosen in 1880 to reflect that of the fortress treasure house in ancient Persia called "Olane."

Church's numerous paintings were the result of both the vistas it afforded and his frequent trips. After returning from his European and Middle Eastern sojourn, for example, he produced "Parthenon" and "Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives," while local scenes were captured in "Scene in the Catskills" and "Catskill Mountains." Other notable works include "Niagara," "Sunset," "Cotopaxi," and "The Icebergs."
Illness ultimately proved his enemy. Progressively attacked by degenerative rheumatism, he lost the use of his right arm, electing to add a studio wing with a gallery, observatory, bedroom, storage room, and gilded Moorish glass window overlooking the Catskills in 1888 to replace his 30-year New York facility.
His final brush stroke preceded the loss of his left arm, rendering him incapacitated as a painter during the last two decades of his life.

Because of his wife's own decline, he offered management of Olana to his 21-year-old son, Louis Palmer Church, to whom he re-bequeathed it when she passed on May 12, 1899. Repurposing his trips from sketching to convalescing, he traveled to Mexico the following winter in search of more illness-compatible climates, but was himself defeated by his afflictions during its return portion on April 7, 1900, ironically the location of the studio where it had all begun while enroute to Hudson, location of the one where it had all ended. In a way, his life had mimicked the soul's journey in that its origin and destination had been the same.

Frederic Edwin Church had been the world's most-traveled artist, and the world is exactly what he captured-one brush stroke and one painting at a time. Of his numerous works, Olana had served as his last-and only three-dimensional-architectural and landscaped one.

Located across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge just outside the town of Hudson, and majestically perched on Summit Hill, Olana, now visitor-accessible, emphasizes its connection between student and teacher, who were physically separated by only a swim's distance. An integrated environment of art, architecture, and landscape, it is a masterpiece in the midst of nature, whose grounds cover 250 acres.

The former stable, coach house, and coachman's quarters serve as the present-day Visitor Center and gift shop, where the 17-minute film, "Frederic Church's Olana," is continuously shown.

Brushed with the same artistic touch as his paintings, Olana is the result of balance, composition, and fidelity to nature, exhibiting what is considered the finest surviving example of the Picturesque Style, whose cornerstone is the framed view. For the first and only time in his life, he rearranged the landscape, creating the "real thing." Like his paintings, it featured both fore- and middle-ground elements in a composition whose background otherwise remained the ubiquitous and unaltered Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains.

The scenery, having inspired both student and teacher, provided the natural setting to be depicted on canvas, demonstrating that the earth's purpose was a stage whose elements did not necessarily change, but whose representation and interpretation varied according to the "actor" currently using it.

According to the Olana website, "the distinctive land form (shaped to form a grassy stepped terrace) inevitably draws all visitors and functions as the viewing platform for the ultimate landscape experience at Olana. From that point, visitors experience the sublime in the truest sense of the word. The land falls away at one's feet. The Hudson River bends deeply and stretches toward infinity. The Catskill Mountains rise up from the south to their majestic peaks just across from Olana."

Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, although having settled in the Upper Hudson Valley, were not the only two artists who were inspired by it. Another painter lived further south, in Poughkeepsie. His name was Samuel Morse.

6. Samuel Finley Breese Morse:

Despite his reputation to the contrary, Samuel Finley Breese Morse was only secondarily an inventor. But without attracting any significant recognition of his artistic works, the reverse became the reality in the public's mind.

Born on April 27, 1791 just outside of Boston, in Charlestown, he was the son of Jedidiah Morse, who was a pastor and creator of geographies, and he traces his artistic awakening to the art class he took when he had been all of 11 years old.

Before graduating from Yale University (his father's alma mater), he had painted miniatures, but the dabbling evolved into more serious strokes when he had accompanied Washington Allston, a noted painter, to England for four years to study under him at the Royal Academy. It was at this time that he had determined that he would dedicate his life to art.

Like so many others, however, monetary necessity forced him to relinquish his passioned genre of history painting for portraiture.

Although portrait painting may have been less then fulfilling to him, it provided considerable monetary reward, enabling him to earn between $60 and $70 per canvas when he had been in Charleston, South Carolina.

Adopting the profile of the most successful, New York-based painters, he finally planted roots in that metropolis in 1826, forming and becoming head of the short-lived Drawing Association, itself an extension of the American Academy of Fine Arts. Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand ranked among its members. It was quickly replaced by the National Academy of Design, of which Morse became its president.

Also mimicking fellow painters, such as Cole and Church, he began spending his summers in upstate New York, before embarking on a three-year sketching tour of Europe, producing his second monumental, but not particularly successful, canvas, "The Grand Gallery of the Louvre," which succeeded the first, "The House of Representatives."

While crossing the Atlantic on the Sully on the return journey in 1832, however, he also crossed the line between art and science, for the first time discussing electromagnetism with fellow passengers and thus picking up the thread to his second interest. In fact, he would later rely on these passengers and their affidavits that he, and he alone, had been the inventor of the electro-telegraph and the dot-dash system used to transcribe its signals into words. It was known, of course, as "Morse Code."

The amount of time and attention devoted to his new life purpose increased until he was no longer able to concentrate on either painting or teaching.

Linking Baltimore with Washington by means of the telegraph line for the first time after Congressional funds had been granted, he succeeded in transmitting the world's first inter-city communication, via wire, from the Capitol Building in 1844. Reflective of his and his father's deep religious beliefs, it consisted of four words: "What hath God wrought!"

Like the strands radiating from a spider's web, his telegraph cables ultimately connected the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Yet, despite the change in life strategy, he still followed in the footsteps of his fellow painters, eventually settling in the Hudson Valley in an estate named "Locust Grove."

7. Locust Grove:

After years of exclusive focus on his invention, and subsequent marriage to his second wife, Sarah Elisabeth Griswold, Morse purchased a 100-acre farm two miles from the village of Poughkeepsie for $17,500 in 1847, and its location, on a high bluff overlooking the Hudson River, was strongly reminiscent of the Cole and Church estates. In any case, it served to rekindle his painter's perspective, as indicated by the description of his new surroundings, which offered "every variety of surface, plain, hill, dale, glens, running streams, and fine forest..."

The working farm, tended by a live-in family and retaining its original, "Locust Grove" name, yielded crops and livestock.

Like Frederic Church's Olana, the original Federal-style house, built in 1830 by John and Isabella Montgomery, was subjected to considerable, European-influenced remodeling and expansion, this time by renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis, who transferred it into a Tuscan villa with an octagonal plaza formed by its north and south wings; a four-story, westward (and hence, river-facing) tower; a billiard room on the east side; and a porte-cochere.

Also like Olana, Locust Grove featured framed views and beautiful vistas shaped by Morse's Romantic, 19th-century landscape design.

Waxing rhapsodic about the sanctuary located in the very setting he had often painted, he wrote in an 1848 letter to his brother, "You have no idea how lovely Locust Grove is. Not a day goes by that I do not feel it."
Morse died on April 2, 1872 in New York City. Having been a painter, photographer, professor, and inventor, he was considered one of the greatest men of the 19th century, having immeasurably improved commerce, politics, journalism, and communication during a period when the New World enjoyed a four-fold increase in land area and a catapult in population from four to 40 million. He had completed 300 canvases during it, but painting, alas, was not considered one of his principle accomplishments.

Purchased from Morse heirs in 1895 by William and Martha Young, a prominent Poughkeepsie couple, Locust Grove was subsequently occupied by them, their two children, and 12 servants, and subjected to expansion with the acquisition of the adjoining Southwood and Edgehill estates. A dining room was added on the north side, along with romantic gardens and carriage roads paralleling the Hudson River.

In 1963, it became the first Hudson Valley estate to be designated a National Historic Landmark, and 12 years later, Annette Innis Young, the last member to have occupied it, created a not-for-profit foundation to preserve it and its 150 acres for "the enjoyment, visitation, and enlightenment of the public."

The house, featuring all of the Young's furniture and possessions, remains virtually unchanged and is open to the public.

Its Morse Gallery, located in the Visitor Center, offers a glimpse of his life and a prelude to the house, featuring a collection of portraits, telegraph instruments and cables, an 1835 telegraph patent model (consisting of a transmitter and receiver), rival European telegraphs, wet-cell batteries, and an 1850 telegraph register. You can even try your hand at tapping out the dots and dashes of Morse code.

Internally, the house offers a rich collection of artwork, including 18th century Dutch landscapes, 19th century Hudson River School paintings (more about which see), and 20th century prints and drawings. Furniture styles range from Chippendale to Empire.

8. Hudson River School:

Frederic Church and Samuel Morse were only two of many members who belonged to what a newspaper reporter once called the "Hudson River School" of Painters, and Thomas Cole was considered its founder, father, and leading light, despite the fact that he played no organizational or administrative role in it.

Although they often lived in, were inspired by, and painted its namesaked valley, they were otherwise unrestricted by it. Most, in fact, were based in New York City.

Characterized by the European Romanticism movement's philosophy that nature is an expression of the Higher Power, which had created it, its landscape painters glorified this fact with an almost religious reverence and thus believed that art was an agent of spiritual transformation.

Considered the foremost American artist, Cole was credited with creating the independent category of "landscape painting."

Although the Hudson River School of Painters cannot be considered group members bound by prescribed or specified rules or limitations, they enjoyed both stylistic and social cohesion, belonging to the National Academy of Design and, by 1858, working at the first purposefully-built studio for artists, the Studio Building on West Tenth Street in Manhattan.

Aside from Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and Samuel Morse, other members included Thomas Chambers, Samuel Colman, Thomas Doughty, Martin Johnson Heade, George Innes, Homer Dodge Martin, Jervis McEntee, Charles Herbert Moore, William T. Richards, Thomas P. Rossiter, Francis Augustus Silva, and Robert Walter Weir.

Like many artistic movements, however, the Hudson River School reached its peak of popularity before it descended toward a trough, at which point it was replaced by the Barbizon style, which first took root in the French village after which it was named.

Nevertheless, having spanned the half century from 1825-when Thomas Cole had first settled in New York-to 1875, when Church and Bierstadt had produced the huge, glorifying depictions of the Andes and the Rockies-it had served to define the "American artist." Synthesizing European Romanticism with American landscape painting, it established the ultimate trinity by connecting man, by means of nature, with God-or created with Creator.

Original article

Painting Flowers - How to Paint White Roses

Flowers seem to naturally lend themselves to watercolor painting. They can be painted in a loose, graceful style or with controlled precision. When painting flowers, choose a style which feels natural to you as you plan your composition.

Roses are such well-loved flowers, and are a popular choice for watercolors. To begin a painting of roses, do a sketch of your vase and flowers. Decide ahead of time how you will handle your background. When painting white flowers it is a good idea to have a dark background which will help your roses to "pop" or to stand out. Show in your pencil value sketch where you brightest whites and darkest darks will be placed. Plan your focal point, placing this area off-center to add more interest. Do the same with your vase. If it is in the middle of your paper it will be less interesting.

Once your value sketch is completed and your subject has been penciled in on your watercolor paper you are ready to paint. If you want to use masking fluid to preserve some of your white paper, this is the time to apply it. Remember to wet your brush, then coat it with soap before dipping it into te masking fluid! If this step is overlooked, you may not be able to remove the masking fluid from your brush and it will be ruined. ( Some of the masking fluids come with an applicator.) Once it has dried, you will paint right over it. When your painting is complete, it can be removed with an eraser or your finger, revealing the preserved area of white paper.

Some of your white roses need not be white! A diluted wash of rose madder genuine on some petals, and aureolin yellow on others will give your painting some depth. Mix these two colors together, and use as a light wash to give more interest to your painting.

Vary your leaves and stems. Have some leaves twist and curl. Show more detail in your foreground and let some fade off into the background. Remember your light source throughout your painting. Give your stems a delicate curve, don't use straight lines. Use a variety of greens, both cool and warm. Practice mixing greens.

Paint highlights on your vase, but don't overdo. This is a case of less is more. One or two well placed highlights is much more effective than many. One additional thought; a fallen petal or two can add a nice touch.

Sue Doucette Author/Artist

I have been painting with watercolor for many years and am happy to share what I have learned with you. For more painting tips, please visit

To see more artwork, visit

I welcome commissions and can work from your photograph.

Original article

Paintings Exhibition: Goya - The Man Who Saw War in All Its Nakedness

Plato believed that it's only the dead who see the end of war. Some are fortunate enough for death frees them but some horrors that men witness are destined to stay forever. Highly disturbing and extremely visceral Goya: Chronicler of All Wars features the Spanish artist's etchings that form the Los Desastres de la Guerra or the Disasters of War series and even though separated by centuries these images man's contempt of his fellow hit as hard as images from present day war.

After the French plundered key Spanish locations during the Peninsular Wars, Goya and a few other artists were invited to witness the massacre and "paint the glories of the inhabitants". Unpublished till 35 years from his death, Goya's stark imagery is now seen as a protest against the violence he witnessed. Goya took almost a year before he started etching and viewing the macabre depiction it's clear why Goya never exhibited them during his lifetime.

The series is divided into episodes that centre on incidents from the war, its aftermath, the famine that hit Madrid in the 1811 and the disillusionment that ensued with the rejection of the Spanish Constitution by the monarchy. The severity of Goya's monochromatic strokes hardly leaves anything to be imagined. In fact the imagery is so raw the one finds it difficult to believe them. Goya bares the chaos of the battlefront; the shock of the soldiers and the turmoil in great detail and one segment of the exhibition highlights the details to show the artist's process.

Goya's brush shows an almost equal amount of dismay in the perpetrators as well as the victims. In the segment Las Victimas with bodies strewn across the streets, Goya represents the loss of identity amongst the death and even recreates classic Biblical icons of pain while drawing the burials; these images are ominous and leave you profoundly unsettled.

Disenchanted and dreary, Goya's strong dedication to show post-war life as it were comes across clearly in the segment where he uses animals to parade the rule of Ferdinand VIII.

It wouldn't be incorrect to call Goya a harbinger of photojournalism as contemporary photojournalists use the same level of commitment to reveal present day war. Brutal sounds emanating from the accompanying video installation; the darkness of the room with just enough light to reveal the savagery of war and its utter uselessness, as an exhibition Los Desastres de la Guerra is beautifully designed and presented.

Goya: Chronicler of All Wars. The Disasters and War Photography is on display till the 15th of October at the The Instituto Cervantes, Hanuman Road, Connaught Place (CP), New Delhi

I am a Delhi-based author who writes for, while I also wear the hat of a documentary film maker. To know more about paintings exhibitions Mumbai or paintings exhibitions Bangalore please visit

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The Online Art Gallery - A Great Resource for Art Lovers

They say that art is one form that gives immense pleasure by its mere presence. It is one silent form that combines hearts across various cultures and continent. Read on to find out about the modern rage called online art gallery in India and also about the varied things it houses for lovers of art. An online art gallery is a web based version of the traditional gallery.

The only difference being that the former exists in virtual space and of course comes with the benefits that modern cyber science has blessed it with. If you have been thinking that the online art gallery is only a place where there is an assorted collection of canvases you could not be more wrong. The Online Art Gallery houses a lot more Among the other attractive pieces that these online at galleries stock, the most poplar one that can be cited are the decorative interior accessories.

More and more interior designers are developing their own set of unique pieces and these galleries are on of the best resources to display them at. Not only typical wall hangings and mere decorative items, there are interesting decorative interior accessories that combine style with functionality. If you had been wondering where exactly a coconut shell book rack could be available, then the online art gallery could be a possible answer. There are wide arrays of quirky, offbeat accessories that may be found at these galleries.

Can one buy Online? Since the online art gallery is more like an online retail outlet, there is a scope to buy by a mere click. The process works like any other online shopping sites. All you need to do is select the items that you want to purchase and then pay by credit card. Every separate online art gallery has specific payment related terms and conditions that are variable. Hence the answer to the question in the subheading is in the affirmative. What are the points of Concern? A huge boon as the online art gallery may appear to be, there are still some discerning questions in the minds of common men. Most people tend to question the authenticity of the art works and decorative interior accessories found online. However, the genuineness and authenticity can be assured once you deal with a gallery of repute. Check for online reviews as well as customer testimonials.

The best online galleries have proper contact details and the like. There are copyright specifications available too for the ambiguous buyer. Conclusion Given the popularity of the online art gallery, one can say that it is not a mere overnight phenomenon. This is one resource that uses the boon of technology to bring artists and art appreciators close to each other. A favored artist shall display his work online while a buyer may simply wait for a few seconds to seal the deal on its purchase. If you are an art lover, it is time to log in today without wasting a single second. Good luck!

Naina Sharma is an expert author on contemporary Indian art and online art gallery. She has a forte in writing excellent write-ups on art and home d├ęcor with art forms.

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Painting Flowers - How to Paint Blooming Roses

Roses in various stages of blooming can make a beautiful watercolor painting. For this lesson, let's use yellow roses in a clear vase. If painting a dozen roses, only a few need to be in full detail. Others can be seen in the background, giving your painting depth and interest. Some will be facing forward, others to the side and back. Different heights and angles keep the viewer interested.

Start by making a pencil value sketch of your composition. Indicate where your lightest lights and darkest darks will be placed. Decide where your focal point will be. (try placing it off-center.) Show the rose petals curling and turning on the edges. Some may be more open than others. Carefully draw the center petals. Once your sketch is complete, you are ready to pencil it on to your watercolor paper.

For the roses in the foreground aureolin yellow and cadmium yellow will be your major colors, but each flower may have two or three different hues. For instance, the yellow of your rose may be complimented with soft violet in some of the folds and shadows of the flower. Painting flowers allows for much creativity, since no two will be exactly alike. Use a light wash of aureolin for your lightest lights. Mix together aureolin yellow and rose madder genuine for another soft, transparent color. Use this where your values are a little darker than where you used aureolin only. Add cadmium yellow for your deeper yellows. If some of your flowers are casting shadows on others, indicate this with a light wash of violet, made from combining rose madder genuine with cobalt blue.

Use a variety of colors for your stems and leaves. I prefer to mix my own greens, but there are some good greens available from the art supply stores. Viridian green is a nice transparent cool green. This can be mixed with aurelin yellow for a lighter green. Experiment with mixing greens. Your painting will be much more interesting if you don't use just one shade of green. Have your stems curve slightly and remember to indicate your light source throughout your painting.

Use some of your colors from your roses as a soft wash for your vase. Show one or two highlights on your vase where the light lands. Don't overdo. This is a case where less is more. Remember to paint the shadow cast by the vase. Use some of the colors from your painting for this also and you should have a lovely painting of yellow roses.

Sue Doucette, Author/Artist

I have been painting with watercolor for many years, and am happy to share with you what I have learned. For more helpful painting tips, please visit

To see more examples of watercolors, visit

I welcome commissions and can work from your photograph.

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Painting With Acrylics - The Basics

You've been to the art shop and you have bought your set of acrylic paint and you are ready to paint. Before you start let's go over some basics.

Here are the main differences between acrylic and watercolor;
Acrylic paint is resin based, it dries very quickly and when it is dry it is completely waterproof (Watercolor is never waterproof). Acrylic paint can be used like oil paints and painted impasto (that is so thick that you can see the brush strokes). Acrylic paint can be layered like oils but because of the drying time it can be layered much more quickly (oil paint can take days to dry, acrylics will dry in minutes). In theory you can paint a canvas black, let it dry and then paint it white again! In practice the paints are never completely opaque and some of the color underneath will come through. You can dilute acrylics with acrylic medium. This is a clear resin formula which will slow the drying time of your acrylics and "bulk" them allowing impasto work more easily (and cheaply).

Here are some of the similarities;
You can dilute acrylics with water to produce washes in much the same way you would with watercolor. Some people paint with acrylics much as they would with watercolor, that is to say first starting with a very pale wash for sky or distant landscape and then gradually working in washes of increasing color density for the foreground and detail. You can apply glazes with acrylics in the same way as watercolor. A glaze is the application of a semi translucent layer of paint which will allow the color underneath to shine through in varying degrees according to the light. This is one of the most exiting ways paint can be used, glazing as a technique was very popular with the neo-romantic movement with artists such as Gabriel Dante Rossetti. Layers of paint of increasing translucency was applied to areas of the face and skin which allowed the skin tones to glow in the light.

Some useful tips on the use of acrylics;
As mentioned above glazing is a very exiting technique to really make your paintings stand out and give the color a particular intensity. To do this you will need to know which of your colors are opaque and which are translucent. Some acrylics have a coding system on the colors, for example "T" for translucent and "O" for opaque. In practice you don't need to be told this, you can squeeze a little of your paint onto your white palette. If the paint is translucent it will look like jelly, you will be able to see through it, if it is opaque it will look more like a blob of wet plasticine, it's as simple as that, although obviously mastering subtle glazing technique can take many years.

The other useful thing to bear in mind is you will either need a way to keep your acrylic paint wet or you should only use in small amounts. Ways to keep acrylics useable on the palette include special paper like blotting paper you wet first with water and then mix your acrylics on top of it. Other artists will spray water on their palette at regular intervals. For myself I like to work fast and when it's getting a bit dry I wash the palette and start again from scratch.

Never, ever let acrylic dry on the brush! When painting with acrylic keep your brushes in water. When you have finished using them wash them carefully with cold water and washing up liquid, rinse them and dry them upright, shaping the bristles into points.

I hope you have found this brief guide useful, feel free to browse the website below and you will see some of my work.

Mark Robb is a practising artist based in Haworth. If you have enjoyed the article above then he invites you to browse the website where you will find all kinds of art materials, art prints and further advice and tips to help you become a better artist.

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Early Van Gogh Painting

In the period 1883 - 1886, Van Gogh lived in Nuenen and Antwerp. It was at this time that he started painting using oil colors. The paintings by Van Gogh at this time were what you could call socially conscious. He focused on showing the life and plight of the rural population and how this life in many ways contrasted with that of the urban population. It was a fairly productive period for Vincent, in which he completed more than 200 paintings. However, with his focus on dark earthy tones, the paintings were not in the fashion of the times. As mentioned by his brother Theo, the art collectors of Paris were more interested in the bright modern paintings of the impressionists, rather than somber earthy tones and realistic peasant depictions that he produced.

However, the paintings of this early period are not without merit. A number of the works produced at this time are also today considered among the master pieces of Van Gogh. Among them we find "The Potato Eater", probably his first truly major work and a good example of the realistic depictions of rural peasants that were his main subjects. The painting depicts just such a group of peasants as they sit down in the evening for some food. Both the depiction and the coloring are realistic and quite sobering. It is one of dark earthy tones, ugly faces and little joy. Most of the paintings during this period displayed similar sober scenes and motives, including his landscapes. As such, it is not hard to see why there can have been some trouble selling these works in a Paris fascinated by the bright art of impressionism.

The famous self-portrait "Still Life with Straw Hat and Pipe" was also produced at this time. While not exactly an explosion of colors, it is more in line with the later style of Van Gogh, including the very visible brush strokes that became his trademark. A last painting that deserve mention from this period, as much for its out of character feel as for its motive, is "Skull of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette." Apparently made as a comment upon the traditional teaching methods of art schools, the painting is very unlike most Van Gogh pieces in its choice of a fictive motive. Its elegant sarcasm has however also won it many fans as an usual but brilliant Van Gogh painting.

This phase of dark colors and somber depictions ended once Vincent went to Paris in 1886 and get inspired by the styles of the impressionists there. However, for those interested in looking into the early realistic mastery of Vincent Van Gogh, many of these works can today be found at the Van Gogh Museum in The Netherlands.

To see a online gallery of hand painted oil painting reproductions from all the great artists please check out the site which has a wide selection of Van Gogh Reproductions.

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How to Get Better With Watercolors - 5 Tips

All watercolor artists would like to improve their paintings. Here are five tips to help you to do so:

1. Plan your white spaces ahead of time. This is important when painting with watercolor. Unlike oil painting, where whites are added as a last step, watercolor whites must be planned for and "saved." This can be accomplished by either painting around them, or by using a masking fluid to block out the sections of your painting you want to remain white.

2. Know your color wheel. Having a basic knowledge of primary, secondary and tertiary colors, and their relationships to one another will help you to know where to place them in your painting for the best effect. Knowing which colors are each other's compliment will give your watercolors balance and appeal. Complimentary colors are located directly opposite one another on the color wheel. For example, red is the compliment of green, and yellow is the compliment of violet. Placing complimentary colors adjacent to each other is pleasing to the eye.

3. Use a full range of values. Using a full range of values will help give your watercolor paintings depth and make your whites pop. Make a "back and white" sample using a row of ten empty squares you have drawn on your watercolor paper; leave the first block white, and paint the last square nearly black (I never use black in a watercolor. Indigo Blue works well, or a mixture of Alizarin Crimson and Winsor Green.) Now mix combinations to make the various shades of "gray" in between. using this wide range of values will help you to improve your watercolor paintings.

4. Avoid making a muddy mixture. Knowing which watercolors are transparent and which are not, will help you to avoid mixing a muddy brown. There are many colors which are transparent such as Rose Madder Genuine and Cobalt Blue. When combined these make a lovely transparent violet. Other blues and reds with more opaque qualities will make a "duller" violet, and if a third color is added, the possibility of a muddy brown exists. So study by practicing using a wide variety of colors to determine their degree of transparency.

5. Last, but not least, be yourself! Don't try to imitate other artists' styles. Paint the way You paint, and your own style will evolve. You will come to have a favorite palette and your watercolors will reflect this. Don't let others tell you are painting too "tightly" or too loosely. Be yourself and paint in a way which feels most natural to you!

Sue Doucette, Author/Artist

I have been painting with watercolor for many years and am happy to share with you what I have learned along the way. I write a monthly page of tips for fellow watercolorists which I post on my website. Please visit

To see more watercolor paintings, visit

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