Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Beginning Watercolor 10/18/17 Limited Palette

The work we did in class creating neutral hues was focused and productive. Let's go a step further and review how to select a palette limited to one red, one yellow and one blue. Here's the way the thinking might go:

Cedar Stump        Tom Hoffmann            2016

How about quinacridone gold, ultramarine blue and permanent red? Could I make that sky with ultramarine? Does it really matter? Today I say yes, it does, so maybe I should go with cobalt. But, then would the darks be dark enough? Probably not. How about pthalo blue?

I like to start by making sure the colors I choose can combine to make a reasonable version of all the colors I see in the scene. "Reasonable" is defined according to the immediate needs of the individual painter. Some days you'll want more accuracy than others.
As usual, I start with a few questions:

What's the bluest thing in the scene? The reddest? Yellowest?
With those places identified I can select my primaries, at least temporarily. Which of the primary colors I have look most like those spots?

Then I want to look at the secondary colors in the scene, and ask, "With the colors I've selected, can I make the oranges, greens and purples?" If so, onward, but if not, I'll have to adjust my palatte. If I can't tell just by looking, I can try some mixtures on a practice sheet.
When I'm confident that my choices will make the colors I need, I want to also check to see if the combo can make a dark enough dark.

Before we go any farther, is anyone asking why we're limiting the colors? I mean, we've got dozens of colors. Why not just use whatever is closest to the color we want, and adjust it a little?

It's all about cohesiveness.

When everything on the page is made of the same three colors, all the shapes resonate with one another. The result is a scene in which everything feels as if it belongs with everything else.

Tom Hoffmann       On Balky Hill        2017

For homework, Choose a palette for one of the photos that follow, and paint the scene. If you'd prefer to copy one of the paintings, by all means go right ahead.

1 comment:

  1. This is a late response - apologies, but I am working through the "old" exercises you set Tom.

    This limited-palette approach is a real eye opener! I tried the image of the car and signs. At first, in my usual way, interpreting the photograph with my full range of colours. It was OK, but really uptight (too content focussed). Then I painted another trying to concentrate on form, but still indulging my full range of colours. It improved. But I kept looking at this result - for days, and felt something was missing, it was simply not OK!

    Then I re-read your various posts on limiting the palette to achieve cohesiveness. I have just painted a third version using the palette limited to three colours, as you recommended. Wow, surprise surprise, it "worked". Foolish of me not to listen to your advice in the first place. The difference is a revelation.

    Many thanks for generously sharing your expertise with us, this is much appreciated.