The Importance of Playing With Color


"Seabird" 8 x 10 Chalk Pastel on Flat Canvas
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In your average harbor, the water isn't the cleanest-looking. Neither are the birds. When the sun hits everything just right, rich colors still come through...and then there's always my favorite option: exaggerate.

The seagull above wasn't the most colorful bird, and the rocks and water were also a bit dull at first glance. Adding teal and orange as the basic color scheme livened it up a little, and still kept the harbor tones in the painting. I know you won't find much orange (and definitely not any teal) on a seagull, but it makes for a more interesting painting to take a few artistic liberties with color to please the eye.

For the next piece, I wanted the emphasis to be on color and natural elements. The reference photo I used was taken from an airboat in Florida, and featured gray sky, almost gray water, and straw colored grass with a hint of green. Those colors are powerful in their own way, but don't suit my style of painting. I used blue toned paper, and blocked in the water, grass, and clouds with some neutral blues and greens before getting more creative with the color scheme. Taking a longer look at my photo, I detected some yellows and oranges in the grass. I added those colors, finishing with some purple and red in the clouds (and just a hint of red in the grass and water). It was a warm, humid afternoon that day, so I gave the clouds some of the ominous darkness so common in a typical tropical climate.

I learned a long time ago in my artistic journey that colors aren't always what they seem, and it's much better to use them as tools to reach the painting's intentions rather than be a slave to their accuracy.

"Clouds and Water, Grass and Sky"
9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper
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