Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Achieving Harmonious Color


Today, I took the workshop out to one of my favorite spots on Campobello Island to paint.  It's quiet, remote and very few tourists find it.  The only sound was the surf and the ringing of cobble on cobble as the waves came and went.  You can see the view above.

I started a 16x20 oil of beach roses, pictured below.  I wanted primarily to get a sense of strong sunlight and then have the rose blossoms as accent colors.  I had just started putting in a few roses to see how they'd look when the clouds rolled in, changing the lighting.  I know better than to fight with the clouds, so I packed it up.  (It was lunchtime, anyway.)  I'll go back to this same spot the next sunny day and tighten up the piece.


One question we had today was, How do you keep from using too many colors?  For those of you who like a lot of color, you need to know that too many colors can give a carnival-like look to your paintings.  If you are, in fact, painting a carnival, that's fine; but if it's a quiet little oceanside scene filled with green and blue, you don't want your painting to end up looking like a gaudy sideshow.

It's easy with oil - just don't take out very many tubes!  Six colors is plenty, and I know some very successful painters who use just three.  (I also know one who takes out forty, but he knows what he's doing.)  Pastels are more troublesome, since you can't paint a proper pastel unless you have 200 or more sticks to choose from.  The trick is to pick out a few to start, and then keep using them until you just can't make them work anymore - and then pick out one more, and use that until you can't use that one anymore, either.  Pretend that every choice from your pastel box will cost you $20, and you'll keep your choices down to just a few.  I sometimes paint an entire piece with only 20 or so sticks.

3 comments:

David Westerfield said...

Nice work Michael, I look forward to seeing the final. I agree about less tubes of paint, that's why I use the half-box French easel.

Sandra Nunes said...

Great start Michael, I love already!

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thank you, David and Sandra!

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