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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Moving Beyond Local Color...with 16 pastels

'Mountain Dreams'           8x10       pastel         ©Karen Margulis sold

OK so this painting isn't very far outside of the box.  The colors I used are still believable and they are colors we might associate with this landscape....green grass and blue sky. But I always try to make more interesting color choices. At the least I want to infuse my subject with touches of unexpected color. I want to make my subjects more interesting with my color choices. How do I approach color?

I remind myself that color gets the glory but it is value that does all the work. If I can get the value masses in the right place and determine the correct values in the subject then I can safely get away with more interesting color choices. It is all about layering color by value.

I may end up with a mostly green tree or meadow....but I use other colors in a similar value to build up to my final color. So the dark areas in the tree and meadow are painted with layers of dark blue, purple, red and then green.  This allows for more exciting dark areas than if I had only used a dark green alone.

Pastels used for today's painting
Today's painting was a demo for a private student. My goal was to help her understand this idea of color by value.  To simplify this concept I chose only 16 pastels. I allowed myself four colors in four values. I started by choosing 4 dark pastels and then chose 4 light values in the same colors. I finished my selection by choosing middle dark and middle light versions of the same colors.  I didn't really concern myself with color temperature (one lesson at a time!)

I was able to finish the painting with only these 16 pastels. It is a believable landscape because I concentrated on trying to get the value shapes correct. I picked colors that would also be believable in this landscape but I could have done the same demo using totally unexpected colors.....hmmmm now there's a great idea! Back to the easel!

Do you ever get overwhelmed by all of the colors in your box?  Try this exercise of choosing 16 pastels by value and see if it helps!

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