Thursday, April 28, 2011

Elements of Design - Color

In my outdoor workshops, I often find that students are overwhelmed with the details before them.  And often times they try to match the local color of the spot. That will sometimes result in a lack of unity and harmony, as colors remain isolated and disconnected from the rest of the painting.

My suggestion is to limit the number of colors which will force a repetition of colors over the whole picture plane.

These two paintings were done with limited palettes.  One was done entirely with thalo green and alizarin crimson.  The other was painted with a warmer palette of burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, and purple.
Depending on the mixture, one color can dominate.  The midtones tend to lean towards neutral grayed, broken colors while the lights tended to be purer. Alizarin and thalo green make a fabulous cool black value. Burnt sienna mixed with ultramarine blue makes a warmer dark value.

Here are some other limited palettes to try:

Yellow ochre, burnt sienna, Payne's gray

New gamboge, cadmium orange and cobalt blue

Cadmium yellow, burnt umber and ultramarine blue

Pick a familiar subject and paint it several times, each attempt using a different limited palette.  It will teach you a lot about glazing, mixing, and painting values.

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