Thursday, April 5, 2012

Use the Back Door, pastel, 11 x 14
My demo from this morning's class. We focused on harmonizing the color throughout the painting. The photo we worked from had lots of green foliage in the upper left corner, and vastly different colors in the rest of the scene.

I find that orchestrating color usage in a painting is one of the ways we can distinquish between copying a photo vs. creating original artwork. As artists we have to make decisions on how to interpret a scene so that it's believable (assuming it's representational art we're talking about, which I am here) but also reads as a cohesive, eye pleasing work of art. When an artist can pull all of the right elements out of his or her "bag of tricks," such as values, color temperature, edges, composition, etc., the scene that we depict is just an artistic playground for us to assemble the pieces.

In this painting, I made sure to use a limited palette. On a panel prepared with pumice gel on a mid-value "earthy orange" color, I started with an underpainting using three values of blues/purples, and then used an alcohol wash to establish the value structure. After that, I used under 20 pastels to complete the painting. A limited palette forces you to use some of the same colors in multiple areas that actually have very different local color. As long as the values are correct and the color temperature makes sense where it's placed, the colors will read correctly and give your painting a more unified look.

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