Monday, September 13, 2010

Complementary Colors

Fall colors--yellow, red, and orange--can be intensified if placed next to their complement on the color wheel.  In this painting of an oft-painted scene on Southport Island, Maine, I painted everything a pale blue except the white side of the houses and the red fish shack .  This is the unifying underpainting.  After it was dry, I painted the orange-red colors right over the blue.  The orange was dark enough to still retain its hue.  By leaving some of the blue next to the orange, both colors seem more vivid.

The mud flat was grayed down on the first wash.  I began the darks around the red shack and underneath the dock, extending them to the cast shadows of the boats.  From there I worked outward, gradating as I went to keep the high contrast around the focal point. 

I've said it before.  Avoid painting pieces of the painting in a coloring book fashion.  Give the painting a unifying color before putting down the midtone wash and then the dark wash. And use complementary colors to their full advantage.

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