Colour. I LOVE it! And, I love playing with colour.
So what do I mean by playing with colour? I mean exaggerating the colour I see and occasionally changing it up completely! Sometimes the colour needs a bump up or at other times, the painting itself calls out for a colour that’s totally different to what’s there in the scene.
I’ve just uploaded a video to YouTube with a demo (sped-up) that shows me playing with colour. I end up with a pretty colourful painting! Yet, when you look at the reference photo, you’ll see I really pushed and changed the colour.
First, have a look at the video:
Now have a look at the reference photo. Dull isn’t it? Yet can you see how the relationship between the two companions along with the way their bodies move attracted me?
Because I didn’t need to copy what was there, I was free to change up the colours.
As always, I first made a thumbnail. I especially wanted to work out a value plan for the background. I knew I wasn’t going to include all the stuff beyond the figures. For my purposes, it added nothing to what I wanted to say. So, I left it all out. And then what? You can see in my thumbnail that I just indicated an area of middle value. I could decide what would be in that value area as I worked on the painting.
Then, with vine charcoal, I drew up the image on a 6 x 6 in piece of UART 400 paper. You can see where I readjusted the placement of the dog.
And then came putting in the three main value areas as my first layer. I like doing this to replicate the pattern I’ve created in my thumbnail.
Initially, I imagined doing the coat in blue and felt the warm orange would create an exciting underlayer. However, I loved the orange so much, that I decided to make the coat orange instead! So I left it as is. This is why it’s good to leave yourself open to the possibilities that arise as you work.
I build up the image as I go. I work from the big shapes, adding detail nearer the end.
Finally, I cooled and softened the background so the two figures would stand out and there would be a feeling of space beyond them, even if it wasn’t clear what lay in the distance.
Have a look at the painting in black and white along with the thumbnail. You can see how I stuck with my plan. I really want you to see how when you have your values down, playing with colour becomes a breeze! Imagine this piece all in blues – wouldn’t that create a completely different feeling?
Here are the eight Unison Colour pastels (from my set) I used in this painting.
Let me know if this has inspired you to play with colour! And, if you have questions, do leave them in the comments below.
Until next time,
PS. The light areas dominate in this painting. To understand more about value dominance, click here.
PPS. Want to see the painting develop in real-time with a full voiceover? Then join us in the IGNITE! Art-Making Membership. We go deep into colour!!
PPS. I wrote an earlier blog post about Pushing Colour.