Sunday, May 12, 2013

Doing a Painting Color Plan

Before I start a painting I plan the color harmonies. The next painting I will be doing will employ complementary colors- ie. colors opposite each other in the standard color wheel. There are many other combinations; they are triadic, tetradic or double complementary, analogous, monochromatic and my favorite -the split complementary.

Here is a really good Dick Blick site explaining the differences;

One easy way to do this is to do a mini still-life of the items you will be using. I already has the costume- a corset and skirt in shades yellow-green and black. I had to find a deeper shade of yellow-green for the background which I had- an olive green velvet drape. The only shot of bright color on the costume will be the pink of the rose ( just one as I don't like painting flowers- go figure). I had several different colors of ribbons to choose from and picked the one I thought best. I will then dress the model, put her against the background and make further adjustments. She will be wearing black stockings and boots.

I happened to have these items around- but I have pulled scraps of colored bits from magazines, color-aid paper, wallpaper samples or  even paper colored with pastel or paint. Keep working on it until it vibrates.
Sometimes I make a color study before the painting If I think I am going to run into trouble- especially if the face is against a difficult background like yellow. I wish I had made a color study of my present ouevre. It is plaguing me.

This is not really an accurate color depiction-the variations are more subtle and richer in life than I could get in a photograph, but it gives one an idea of how to assemble and judge if various item are harmonious.

An important thing to remember is that you must pick one color to dominate in brilliance. I have picked the pink on duller greens. This could be reversed using a dull red background with citric green accents.

You can use colors of equal value and hue if you orchestrate them like Persian miniatures and place the colors on neutral or subdued backgrounds. They were masters of this and I have not come across many contemporary painters able to carry this off. Today, color abuse is as rampant as substance abuse, however there unfortunately there are no 12 step programs for this.

There is much to learn about color and I have read many books on color theory.  The Munsell theory seems to be it at the moment. It is useful to a degree but unfortunately, I have seen it used rather mechanically. I believe color is intuitive- not rational.  I have not found, as yet, any Asian theories on color- and they are absolute masters of sophisticated, subtle color. Somehow they managed brilliantly without Munsell.  It is the art of China and Japan that informed the art of the Impressionists when their work was exhibited in France in the 19th century. This has led me to conclude that the best ways to learn is; to observe nature, practice and meditation.


BlueBirdie said...

Wonderfully helpful to read your observations and experiences on portraiture, the link provided too will also be very helpful. :) I will recommend my illustrator friends to your blog-your work is inspirational, just found it today!

Sharon Knettell said...

Your work put a smile on my face especially Sashimi Kitty. It is so whimsical and full of charm.

I was an illustrator- I did the Jem packaging. I loved it. I hope you find great success in this very difficult field. It breaks my heart to see how much photography and digital art has replaced the charm of illustrations like yours.

I am glad you find my blog helpful- I will be doing more on color.

Ashley said...

Hi Sharon,
My mom told me to look you up. I have just been reading your blog while my little ones are napping, it's very informative and inspires me to want to paint again.

-Ashley Sta. Teresa (Stenbo)

Sharon Knettell said...

Draw your little ones quickly as they are sleeping. My mother made a beautiful picture of my sister in her crib. Free models!

It's a tough slog- paint what you love.