Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Diversity of Color: part 1

Color Exercises

Continuing my study of color, I have done a series of studies, using two contrasting colors (Cadmium Orange and Ultramarine Blue) that are opposites on the color wheel. According to painter Stephen Quiller, these two colors are exact opposites and will mix an endless variety of neutrals. Let's see if this is true....

Cadmium Orange and Ultramarine Blue color chart

Here’s a color chart I did showing a variety of mixtures. Horizontally, we see a full intensity orange (pure color right out of the tube) moving to a greyed-out neutral of 50% of each color and then back to a full intensity blue on the other side of the chart. Vertically, we see mixtures from white (top) to close to black (bottom). In between, are various gradations of mixtures. Make no mistake, this was a hard exercise and I will be doing it again to improve my eye for mixing color, a necessary skill for educated painting.

Next, we see three studies of the same subject, in this case the Venus of Willendorf, an ancient fertility figure found in Austria.

“Venus of Willendorf,” watercolor 9" x 12"

The study above uses a full range of values from white to black but only semi-neutral colors, no full-intensity orange or blue.

“Night Goddess,” watercolor 9" x 12"

The second study (above) has no high-key white and only mid-key values dropping down from light-greys to black. The intensity is quite weak, with blue as the dominant color, and some very weak neutral oranges. The effect is quite moody.
"Paleolithic Mother," watercolor, 9" x 12"
The last study also has no white, but both full-intensity orange and full-intensity blue, along with a lot of glazed neutrals. The blue is the dominant color and the orange is subordinate.

All three pieces have very distinct moods, which is pretty amazing if you consider that they’re all painted using the same two colors. I find Number One to be most “factual.” It’s straightforward and fairly accurate. Number Two is moody and looks mysterious. Number Three looks almost like a real person, standing out on some sunlit plain. I think I like Number Three the best.

Which do you like best? And why? 

(NB. All images are Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2014)

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