Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Mother Color, Part 2

In my last post, the concept of using a mother color in painting stirred up the imagination of my readers. One asked, "What about pastel?"

The mother color concept is all about mixing color. Pastel, as a dry medium, is more difficult to mix -- hence the need to have possibly hundreds of pastels of different hues and values in your palette. But what if we did try to extend the concept to pastel?

As an experiment, I made two paintings. In the first, I selected four values of Burnt Sienna. In the second, I selected three values of Ultramarine Blue. For each painting, I used my "mother color sticks" to first sketch in the drawing and then to block in the shapes very loosely. Next, as I continued with other colors, I added touches of the mother color whenever I felt that the presence of the mother color was getting lost.

Sure enough, if the color harmony was going awry, adding more of the mother color brought everything into balance again.

By the way, for these experiments I used Belgian Mist Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper, which is a warm, mid-value grey. Any toned surface will give a certain color harmony to a painting. The difference with using "mother color sticks" is that, unlike the color of a toned surface, the pastel actually gets mixed in with the other layers of pastel, having a bigger impact.

Below are the paintings along with a photo of the "mother color sticks" used.

"Sugar Maple, Midday Sun" - Mother Color Sticks - Ultramarine Blue
5x7, pastel, en plein air - SOLD
("tweaked" since last posting, so it differs from image seen in pochade box)

"Sugar Maple, Midday Overcast" - Mother Color Sticks - Burnt Sienna
5x7, pastel, en plein air -SOLD

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