Friday, March 12, 2010

A Word about Color

Many artists use pure color straight from the tube: reds, yellows, blues, greens, etc.. I'm not knocking it. There are appropriate uses for pure color, and they do serve a purpose, depending on composition and style. But sometimes a blended color can do the job better.

Blended colors add a certain vibrancy by complimenting or enhancing similar colors and values in the painting. Monochromatic paintings that use one main color such as raw umber, burnt sienna, or venetian red are enlivened when blends of that color are mixed and used.

The color gray is a good example. Gray can be a depressing color, but it's also one of the most valuable colors on the palette; especially for dealing with subtlety, or changing values, as in a landscape. Paynes gray is a favorite for many artists. But you can add vitality and subtle changes by mixing your own gray combinations. Here are some of mine:

• Blue and orange make a "greenish gray;" add a mixing white to change shade or value.

• Alizarin Crimson and black make a "lavender gray;" add a mixing white to change shade or value.

• Using Pthalo, or cobalt, or cerulean, or ultramarine blue and black with mixing white can make a lovely blue-gray shade.

Green is another example of how to get variation in your artwork. Sure you can buy many hues and shades of green, but what's the fun in that?. Here are some of my favorite combinations:

• Cobalt blue and yellow make a brilliant spring-time green that can be toned down with mixing white.

• Turquoise and a snitch of yellow make a wonderful lime green that can be changed in value with mixing white or by adding a smidgen of Hookers green.

• Sap green and yellow ochre make a golden green for fields and older grass and weeds. Again, mixing white changes the value.

So there you have it -- some of my favorite blends (the list could go on and on). The point is this: mix colors, try different combinations, be brave. Your paintings will literally "pop" off the page. Have fun--experiment!