Palette

It looks like I'm addressing a few frequent questions I often get from people about my methods in these recent posts, so I apologize to non-artists who may find this a bit technical and boring. Color. How do you come up with your combinations?

Well, I wish I could be more specific. This is probably all very maddening to many of you who have always been told that there are 'rules to follow in art making!' YES, that holds if you are a beginner, learning the ways. A solid foundation is very important.

Let me backpedal a bit and describe how I learned about color theory. In school, design class specifically, we worked with something akin to color chips in a larger more expensive version, called Color-Aid. It was a thick book with every possible color under the sun, in a matte version. Our assignments were based on using these, and they were such things as cutting out 2 small squares of the same color, and placing them on 2 different color fields. Things like that. Tons of complex ones as well. It taught me so much. How color can change depending on what's next to it, the vibratory effect of layering, the importance of balance. Bold color vs. neutrals. Those lessons carried over into my more traditional classes, where we had to mix colors together in various combinations, and learn those lessons.

However, my most important teachings came from making a ton of mistakes. Making mud left and right, seeing what NOT to do, and most of all trying to remember those mistakes. Now that was tough. People seem to think I popped out of the womb knowing what I know.. not! There was a long slow sludgey path that was carved over the years. A LOT of frustration. And believe me, those days aren't over, they just come a little less often. A little. In making art, being frustrated is a given. You have all heard this before, but it's important to be ok with it. It will ultimately make you a more confident painter.

So back to my point.

Each piece takes on a different flavor for me, even if it's one color change from the last one. Sometimes, the color ground I choose makes the difference. I don't have a 'set ground color'. I play with a lot of choices, just to try.. The subsequent addition of colors on top of that, will make a whole new combination appear, just that one color change!  I try to make the ground color visible- if not overtly, then subtley so, by introducing it in many of my mixing combinations. For example, if I use raw umber as a ground, that raw umber shows up in the flesh tones, or the dress, or somewhere. It ties it all in. Once I see a harmony beginning to form, I stick with those few colors, and I make sure there are just few. I am a colorist at heart, but a controlled one, I like to think.

I'm happy to expand on this conversation if you have questions. This is really just the the tip of my logic brain iceberg.  Next time, I'll go into a bit of what happens next with marks.