Sunday, September 16, 2012
Personality of color
Original oil painting 16x20"
by Susan Roux
Do you have a favorite blue? How about yellow?
Do you have a favorite color in general? Which color couldn't you give up?
I don't know if I could answer any of these questions. I can tell you some colors I don't like. I can tell you some colors that I love to work together. But a favorite? Oh I love color way too much to pinpoint one as a favorite.
My palette started off fairly simple with 7 colors and white. It was my standard and I used it quite successfully for many years. I still teach it to my beginners. As time went on and my journey sent me exploring richer, fuller colors, I began rummaging the color charts.
I purchased a few random ones, usually to help capture certain flowers I was struggling with. I think you can all identify with that. No matter what subject you're painting there's often a color present that you have difficulty capturing, so a tube close to the pigment becomes of great use to you.
My purchases evolved in time. I became fixated on certain color families. I remember beginning with yellow. I bought a whole range of yellows. I didn't go crazy with them all at once. The tubes sat nicely available to me. One by one they got promoted to my palette as I saw necessary. It was a good way to get accustomed to them. I think had I put them all on my palette at once, I would have been overwhelmed.
This way I learned each one individually. I learned how to work them with my existing colors in a way that harmonized with what I was already doing. I played. Mixing them with each color on the palette to see what little surprise they held.
You'd be amazed how much I learned doing this.
I don't squirt all my yellows on the palette at once. I've learned how they can assist me. It's a good feeling to have them at my fingertips and be able to go directly to the right one that will capture what I desire. That said, I don't think I ever use a color directly from the tube. It always gets to play with a friend first.
I did the same with blues. I must have at least 7 blues to choose from. Yes there are the old standbys that always have a permanent spot on the palette. Colors that get mixed into other colors no matter what I'm painting. But how about when I'm painting something blue? The sky, water, or beautiful blue blossoms? Having such a selection at my fingertips is priceless.
In my quest for complex color, this has been a blessing.
Don't be afraid of color my friends. It's the best tool we've got.
One of my students keeps remarking on the blues in my paintings lately. How do you get those wonderful blues?
The answer is simple. Have a variety to play with, mixing them with other colors in your painting and soon you'll have a wonderful array of shades that visually dance together. The trick is to get to know each new addition. Think of them having their own personality. Once you understand them, they can be very useful to you.
I have many friends. Lots of personalities... Sometimes I choose to introduce some to each other, but I'm careful to pick the right blend for the right situation. If I have a boisterous friend I might not invite her to lunch with a quiet, somewhat introverted guest. On the other hand, she might be the perfect invitee at an art opening. Who better than to talk up your work?
The same is true with your colors. If you're working in a sea of pastels, you might not want to use a really loud pigment with it, or be cautious to add in very small doses. Some personalities just go better together...
Have fun and good luck!
So what's your favorite color again? What personality would you say it has?