I know how tempting it is to get right in there and paint when you’re excited about a subject. But hold on, did you do a thumbnail?! And what about creating colour studies, have you drawn up a couple of those?
I know I know, I hear you – it all takes so much time!! But you know what? A bit of time spent in preparation can save you frustration and disappointment in the long run, and also help you produce an exceptional painting!
So what are colour studies?
Colour studies are the next step after a thumbnail. In a thumbnail, you’ve broken down the subject into three (or four) main value areas of light and darks. The colour study takes that thumbnail and recreates it in colour using the same value scheme established in the thumbnail.
You know I’m a big proponent of thumbnails. Creating colour studies takes the next step. They’re especially helpful if you layer colours as I do. This is a time to explore all sorts of colour variations.
The topic for this blog post came up as I was working on the DK Project (and I think I have at least a couple more weeks of intense work to go!). Let’s take a look at the colour study I made as part of a technique for the book.
Creating Colour Studies
Here’s the reference photo and then the thumbnail I sketched up.
Let’s have a look at the three colour studies I created today. Each has its own set of first layer colours. To keep things simple, I used the same colours for the second layer on all four studies. All the studies are made with Unison pastels on UART 500 grade paper.
I’ll show each with its first layer followed by a photo with the second layer added. I chose colours randomly, just making sure I selected colours from each of the three value areas. As it turns out, I created two with complementary colours and one with warm analogous colours.
Some things to think about when creating colour studies
1. Stay small
When I say small, I mean no larger than 4 x 4 in or say 4 x 6 in. These are all 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. Staying small means you can get them done quickly!
Follow the three-value thumbnail you created. Don’t look at the subject when creating colour studies or you’ll be tempted to put in details, follow the colour you see, etc..
3. Work fast
You’re not trying to generate a perfect artwork here. This is down and dirty so move that pastel quickly across the paper.
4. Don’t fuss and fiddle
It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to capture details and nuances. Don’t. This is not what creating colour studies is about! And anyway, you want to leave some surprises and options for the big piece. These are only studies to get the visual juices flowing.
3. Experiment with Colour
This is your moment to go wild. Don’t hold back! And don’t think about the ‘real’ colours. You can always turn your piece towards a more ‘real’ look but for now experiment. Just grab a colour from the correct value range and try it. You may be surprised with the lovely options you come up with!
By doing colour studies, you not only solve colour decisions and issues that may arise before you start on your main piece, you also learn a lot about colour and colour relationships along the way.
You can see how different these three colour studies look!
By creating these studies, I have more colour options available and get a real feel for what my final piece might convey.
So tell me, was this helpful? Are you in the habit of creating colour studies? And just for fun, which of the four above would you now take to make into a larger piece – 1, 2, 3, or 4?
Next week, we have a guest blogger and it’s all about glorious trees! Can’t wait!!
PS. Hope your day is filled with love on this Valentine’s Day!