Many of you who know me have heard me say "I can't paint without orange." It's true, I really can't. Most of my paintings include an orange pigment somewhere in the mix, but most frequently it's behind the scenes. In other words it's my very favorite toning color. It's hot, it's fiery and it adds a lot of movement and interest when it's left to peek out from between the brushstrokes in a painting.
So let's talk about toning the canvas with a pretty strident orange and set the stage for a more dynamic oil painting.
Whether you're a beginner or a more experienced painter who wants to try something new this is for you.
Begin with just three things: your canvas, a sponge brush and a tube or bottle of your favorite brand of orange acrylic paint.
Many artists prefer a more neutral color like a burnt umber wash, but I think as you read along you'll see what a benefit orange can have in a loose painting style.
I usually pour my acrylic color directly on the canvas. Any leftovers can be scraped back into the bottle or scooped up and frozen for later. (Yes! Acrylic paint can be frozen, and it doesn't dry out much at all.)
This dries pretty quickly, and then you'll have an eye-popping toning color that will look fabulous with still life, landscape images and abstracts.
Occasionally I like to use orange as a toning color for casual portraiture, too. This is a teacher demo from one of my recent classes. It was left as a work in progress and it's really easy to see the orange popping through here and there, especially in the lower left of the painting where there's lots of dark color representing her coat. Look along the left side of the hair, too, and there's a smidge of orange between the edge of the hair and the green background.
One more! Check this out.
This is a study in oil paint on paper with an orange toning color that reads almost red where it's showing up next to those cerulean blue-based colors. It's evident throughout the background, too, and making itself known under all that warm white.
And that's it! Try out some orange for yourself and make your oil paintings really sing.