March 15, 2012

"The Zorn Palette " - Diana Moses Botkin's Art Challenge - March 2012

"Laura and Vincent"
Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel - 8" x 10"

Rather than go into a lengthy biography of the artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920), I have linked to a very good one by Mattias Sammekull. (Just click his name above.)

Sweden's answer to John Singer Sargent, Zorn is best known for his lush society portraits, sunlit nudes, bravado brushwork and his use of the so-called "Zorn Palette," a palette limited to just four pigments: vermillion, yellow ochre, ivory black and lead white. A perusal of his oeuvre would give evidence to the fact that he was not slavish to this limitation. Indeed, many tubes of blue pigments were found in his paintbox, but that could be said of any of us. I have dozens of tubes of paint that I have never, or seldom, opened. Perhaps this self portrait, showing him with this limited palette, started the whole thing. Who knows?

In any case, I am grateful to him and to Vicki Ross, who choose this month's challenge, for inspiring me to new heights. Indeed, I have not felt this electrified in a very, very long time. This challenge has provided the missing link for me, the piece of the puzzle that has been missing in my flesh formula. With the inclusion of cold greys and greyed out yellows, I am seeing in a completely new way. Although I did use a variation of Zorn's, my old palette was very dutch in nature, heavy on earth pigments such as burnt umber, raw umber and Van Dyke brown. The problem with a dutch palette, at least for me, is that it dries extremely fast and you can't paint wet on wet for very long. With Zorn's palette you have almost two days to move things around. While I am thanking people, I should give a shout out to whoever it was that gave me the tip about freezing one's palette at night to keep the paint from drying out and skinning. Good one!

Below are my fellow challenge artists' works for the month. I think the landscape painters had to have the toughest job of all as Zorn's palette, while perfect for figure and portrait work, is not well-suited for Mother Nature's vast spectrum. Brava!

"Pensive" 10"x 8" oil

"Water" 6"x 6" oil
Becky Joy ©2012

"Isabelle" 14" x 11 oil
Vicki Ross ©2012

"Travelers" oil 9"x7"
Mary Maxam ©2012


Diana Moses Botkin said...

Mark, thank you for the insights on Zorn and his palette. I found this exercise interesting and the colours useful for figurative work (also pretty close to what I generally use). I do like the Mars colours for flesh, plus the cad scarlet for a lovely blush on cheeks.

BTW, I absolutely love your painting for this Challenge. It is such a delightful moment you've captured with the two lovely creatures in your studio, plus that beautiful rug.

One can imagine Vincent's soft fur against Laura's bare skin and the contrast of the rougher texture of the rug... all very sensual and happy.

vickiandrandyrossart said...

Wow, Mark! Wonderful painting. I'm going to read the suggested article as well. I've been freezing my paint for several years...and love the freedom of squeezing out a substantial amount of my array (currently a double primary). I'll be sharing my 'kit' one of these days.

Mark Adams said...

Vicki - I can't thank you enough for picking this challenge subject. I haven't felt this energized and inspired in years, nay decades! Thank you, thank you, thank you!