wood carving

Limited Color Palette for Wood Crafts

A limited color palette allows you total control over which elements in your painting become dominant; which become secondary; and which fall into the foreground, mid-ground, or background.  So whether you do fine art paintings, wood carvings, or pyrography, understanding how  limited palette can work for your craft makes the painting steps so much easier.

Click on the link below for the free pdf version of this post.

Limited Color Palette by L S Irish

You probably are already using a limited color palette but may not realize that the way you chose your colors has a name and purpose. So let’s do a little art color theory exploration.

What captures your attention first?
   1. The barn scene.
   2. The path and background mountains.
   3. The Christmas tree and fence lights.

It is the Christmas tree and fence lights that catch my eye. The barn scene becomes a secondary element which simply tells the story of where that Christmas tree is located.  The reason the tree is dominate is because I have used a limited color palette.

 

PLANNING YOUR PALETTE
Limiting your color palette does not necessary mean using just a minimal number of colors, although that is one method of creating a limited palette painting.

This painting used fifteen different colors but specifically limits where each color can be used.
For this sample it means that I have carefully planned in advance where I would use my colors and what type of color – neutral, pure, or tonal value – I would use for each element.

I began by categorizing each element in the painting as a neutral area, natural area, man made area, tree lights area, and the main feature of the design. This gives me five types of elements in the pattern.

ASSIGNING TONAL VALUE PALETTES
Neutrals are my blending and shading tones for my natural and man made elements. These are simple white, black, and mid-tone brown.

Naturals are my snow, sky, mountains, and trees. For this palette I chose mid-tone gray-scaled colors of medium blue-gray, medium purple-gray, and medium green-gray. All three have the same muted mid-range gray tone which unities them on the tonal value scale.

Man made elements include the barns, the silos, and the fence posts. To make these areas slightly different from the natural tones I have added a medium red-gray to my colors. This color is only used in those man made objects.

Tree light elements use a total new palette of only primary and secondary pure colors that contain no white, gray, or black toning.

Highlights of pink and pale bright green are used only in the primary element of the main Christmas tree to make it the dominant feature of the entire design.

 

GRAY SCALE V. PURE COLOR
Gray-scaled tonal value colors are used throughout this scene, with the exception of the tree light color palette.
The greatest contrast of those tones are found in the barn roof overhangs where the pure white of the snow meets the darkest black tone of the barn wall shadows. The strength of this black-white contrast is most often found in the front elements of your mid-ground area.

As you come forward in a scene, into the foreground, more colors can be distinguished and therefore there are less black-toned elements. A foreground tree trunk has shades of brown and gray where a mid-ground tree trunk tends to lose that coloring therefore going into the black-tones.

Background scene elements tend to be in the white-toned area of your colors. Distant trees, mountains, and the sky area of worked in the pale white-gray tones.

 

PURE COLOR TONAL VALUES
Pure colors as primary and secondary hues have no added white, gray, or black tone and therefore no real tonal value.

Those bright pure colors become mid-toned with only as much visual impact to the design as the background mountains.
In the gray scaled painting what has become dominant are the areas of greatest tonal value contrast – those areas where the blackest tones lies directly against the brightest white tone.

Home Sweet Home- Jewel-Toned Dark Value Palette
This Home Sweet Home hen uses a limited palette of only dark-toned valued colors – dark red-brown, dark green-blue, dark yellow, and dark brown. The dark toned colors are often called jewel tones.
As a folk art design the elements in the pattern are simple and a very limited color palette emphasizes that simplicity.
Pattern available in Hens, Roosters, and Chickens

 

Snow Day
My final example of limited palette coloring for your wood crafts uses only primary
and secondary colors. No tertiary hues are used.  Since this is a wood burning this small wall heart
was painted using watercolors which allow all of the sepia burning to show underneath the hue.
The full tutorial and pattern are found here …

 

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR OUR PAINTING?
It means that color dominates tonal value, that dramatic changes in tonal value dominate over mid-toned values, and that by choosing to limit our color palette we, the artist, decide which elements we want to have the strongest impact in the final design.

I can push an area forward by using pure color hues or I can set the element firmly in the mid-ground range by using dramatic tonal contrasts, or I can push the area into the far background by using closely related mid-toned values.

Ceremonial Mask – Transparent Wash-Tone Palette
Only very water-thinned, pure color make the limited palette for this Ceremonial Mask relief carving.
By only using transparent coloring and coloring without a gray-tone addition,
the wood grain and antiquing remain dominant.
Pattern available in Ceremonial Masks

 

HOW DO I GIVE EXTRA IMPACT?
Our original limited palette contains only two pastel tones – pink which is red plus white, and pale Caribbean green which is green plus white. Neither of these colors contain gray or black.

Those two pastels, used only in the main Christmas tree are enough color change to separate this tree from the other lit pine tree and the fence line lights.

Click on the image below for a free, full-sized, printable pattern.

 

 

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Harvesting Saplings for Cane Carving

Fall is for harvesting. cutting, and storing your tree saplings for cane carving, waling sticks, and wizard wands.

From early fall to late winter is the time for trimming your fruit trees and cleaning the saplings along your fence line. Those wonderful cuttings are perfect for walking sticks and canes. Because of the season the branches and trunks have a lower sap content than you find during the growth months.

With this winter’s storms there is a large supply of downed tree branches waiting to be harvested by the weekend wood carver. It is easy to strip the bark from a green wood stick.

Begin by trimming any small branches from the main stick as close as possible. With a bench knife make several small cuts in the bark at one end of the branch. The knife blade can be teased under the nicked area and then used to pull thin strips of bark off the walking stick branch.

If you are not going to carve your stick directly after harvest paint, the ends with any latex paint to seal the wood. Hang the sticks using bailing twine in a cool dark space and allow to dry until next year.

Green wood can be carved if you keep the exposed end grain liberally soaked with a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine – a half and half mix that is thin enough to soak deeply into the fibers. After each carving session, soak the end grain with oil and loosely cover the stick with a plastic bags to control the moisture content.

When the carving is complete, keep it in a loose plastic bag and store the carving in an area where the stick will be out of direct sunlight and that has a consistent temperature, to avoid dramatic changes that will cause rapid drying. Allow your carving to dry completely before adding any finishing products – approximately one year for each inch of wood.

Even with these precautions checks, and splitting can occur. This is just a natural part of green wood carving and can add drama to your carving as it emphasizes the delicate, living nature of the wood. If the checking is sever you can use butterfly splints or a hardwood dowel to secure the two sides of the split.

With any green wood or winter storm harvested wood, please be aware that your branches can bring unexpected visitors into the house. Insect eggs can hatch if the wood is stored in a warm area.

LEARN MORE:

https://lsirish.com/tutorials/woodcarving-tutorials/woodcarving-projects/wood-carving-walking-sticks-adding-extras/

https://lsirish.com/tutorials/woodcarving-tutorials/woodcarving-projects/wood-carving-walking-sticks-common-tree-species/

https://lsirish.com/tutorials/woodcarving-tutorials/woodcarving-projects/wood-carving-walking-sticks-harvesting/

 

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Wood Carved Ice Fishing Decoys

During the  America Depression ice fishing decoys were a major way to put food on the table.  Today they are a fun, delightful carving subject that lends themself to brilliant coloring.  This post will look at a coloring/painting technique called Rouging, as shown on our middle red-orange metallic goldfish.

Below are three samples of ice fishing decoys, all worked off the general body shape of a comet goldfish.  Measuring between 6″ x 4″ to 7 1/2″ x 4″, worked in basswood, the top fish is sprayed with a copper metallic finish.  Our second fish has been roughed using oil paints and linseed oil over the same copper metallic, and the bottom fish is painted using craft acrylics over a lime green spray base.

 

Ice decoys were made from what ever materials the carver had on hand.  A scrap of wood, maybe an old license plate or piece of scrap metal for the fins, and roofing nails for the eye; these decoys are a major part of American folk art.

My carved samples are worked in basswood for the body shape.  The fins are cut from 30 gauge copper sheeting, which can easily be cut using a pair of craft scissors.

To insert the fins into the body I use my shading tip of my wood burning tool on my hottest temperature setting to literally burn a thin trough into the decoy.  While I have my burning unit on the table I can add small details to the body as scales, center lines, and even cross hatch patterns.

Remove any burned dust from your fin troughs then insert and set the copper fins with super glue.  To fill in the small gap between the burned trough and the metal fins I use Liquitex Modeling Paste – an air-dry polymer mixture that dries extremely hard without shrinking.   You can see the white line of modeling paste between the top fin and body, below.

After the decoy was thoroughly dry, sanded and dusted, I gave the fish two light coats of copper metallic spray paint.  Allow that primer layer to dry for several hours. I used t he spray paint as my base to avoid any brush strokes that might come from a hand-brushed primer.

Rouging is worked over a heavily antique project or a metallic base using artist oil paints, boiled linseed oil, and gloss acrylic spray sealer.

Place a small amount of each oil paint on a palette – I am using lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, and cadmium red.  Oil paints are transparent colors that have no white, black, or gray base.  So as we work the color of the paint will clearly allow the color and sheen of the metallic spray to show through.

1  Lightly dampen your ox-hair brush in boiled linseed oil.  Blot as much of the oil off the brush as you can.  Next, pick up a very small amount of color on your brush tip.  I like to rub the color into the tip on the same area of paper towels as I just blotted the oil from my brush.

2  Gently rub one coat of linseed oil thinned color onto each area of your project.  I use a circular motion where the brush just barely touches the fish … just like applying your make-up rouge.  You should barely be able to see any color application with this first coat.  Let the oil paint dry for about 15 minutes.

3  Now, give your fish a light coat of gloss acrylic spray sealer.  Let the sealer dry for about 1/2 hour.

4  Repeat steps 1 through 3 over, and over, and over again.  And now repeat some more.

With each repeat you add an extremely thin layer of transparent oil color followed by a layer of gloss shine all on top of your metallic base.  The decoy below has about 8 to 10 coats at this stage.

 

The finished technique gives you this deep layering of bright color, sparkle and shine, that also allows the metallic sheen to come through the work.  This is similar to Chinese lacquer ware or enameling, in its effect.

For a little contrast I did add solid acrylic black eyes, black and white dots along the spine, and a little splatter of metallic gold paint to the fin ends.  With one last coat of gloss spray sealer this little bit of folk art is ready to hang.

 

 

 

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Free Chip Carving Wood Carving Pattern

You can add color and paint to your chip carving projects to create a vintage look to your wood carving.  This is especially effective for chip carving projects that developed minor flaws as chip outs, double cuts, and wobbly lines.   Begin by painting a primer coat of acrylic craft paint to your entire project.  Here I am using a loose mix of ochre, mustard, and white to give my primer coat variations in tones.

Chip Carving E-Project at ArtDesignsStudio.com

FREE CHIP CARVING WOOD PROJECTS

removable spray adhesive chip carving patternSharpening Your Chip Knives
Positive and Negative Space in Chip Carving
Chip Carving Seminar
Chip Carving Supplies
Chip Carving Graphed Patterns
Chip Carving Hand Positions and Grips
Chip Carving – Cutting Triangle and Square Chips
Chip Carving – Cutting Straight-Wall, Curve-Wall, Free Forms
Chip Carved Chess and Game Board
Chip Carving – Sampler Layout Pattern
Chip Carving Common Mistakes
Chip Carving Shortbread Cookies

 

Individual motif areas of your chip carving can be painted in complementary colors to emphasis the change in the chip shapes, depth, and design.  Again, note that since we want a vintage look I am not working towards a solid, opaque coloring anywhere on the chip carving plaque.

Allow the base acrylic color to dry thoroughly.  You can at this point give your plaque several very light coats of spray sealer, which limits how much of the oil stain can grab into the wood.  For my project I applied one coat of burnt umber oil paint mixed half and half with boiled linseed oil.

With a clean cloth, wipe off the oil stain working with the grain direction of your wood.  You can dampen your cloth with turpentine to remove any excessively dark stain on the high areas of the chip carving.

 

Let your stain coat dry completely.  This can take several days depending on how thick the oil is in the deep chip cuts.  Using 220-grit sandpaper lightly begin to sand your chip carving.  The sandpaper will clean the high ridges between the chip cuts and distress the large, un-carved areas, creating a wonderful vintage look.

Clean the sanding dust with a tach cloth and apply your favorite finish.

This little chip carved fish decoy is found in our
Whittle Fish Decoy Carving E-Project, and in
Finishing Techniques for Wood Crafters.

 

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Painting with Eye Shadow for Wood Carving and Pyrography

This wonderful idea is not mine … it comes from TurtleSoupBeads YouTube Channel for polymer clay bead creations.  In fact from her video:

Creating Mini Doughnut Beads with Polymer Clay

What I have done is applied her great technique to our wood carving, wood burning, and gourd art paintings.  Its so simple, but extremely effective.  The smaller background fish has just the acrylic paints and the overlay larger fish has been enhanced with eye shadow make up.

After you have finished painting your wood project using acrylics or oil paints but before you have applied any finish or sealer, grab up some of your old eye  shadow make up. You will also want several small clean, filbert-type brushes.

Pick up a little eye shadow color on your brush and gently rub the brush over the area that you want to shade or intensify the color.  You can apply several coats and you can apply one color over another to create added  color interest.

For my fish decoy I started with a dark purple eye shadow in the deep joint line between the fish’s body and his top fin.  Dark blue eye shadow added depth to the v-gouge line that runs through the center of his body, and bright green was added under his eye to enhance that sparkle.

Deep purple and teal were worked along the joints of the fins with the body and along the bottom edge of his belly.

Because eye shadow is a powder it is easily blended with just a brush, adding gentle graduations of color.  While I probably won’t paint an entire wood project just with eye shadows, they are perfect for brightening and strengthening your shadows and highlights without any brush strokes.

After you are done simple proceed onto your sealer and finishing steps!!!!

Thank you TurtleSoupBeads !!!!

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