Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Three Reasons to Paint with One Color

'Lowcountry Treasure'              8x10            pastel          ©Karen Margulis
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Color is everything. Or is it?  Most of us are drawn to pastels because of the wonderful array of colors. They are all there in front of us. We don't have to mix them to see the possibilities. We want them all and we never have enough.  But color can also be our downfall.  You've heard it before:

Color gets the Glory but Value does the work.

If we don't get the values correct then all the colors in your box will not make the painting better. In fact the more colors we add to try to fix the painting the more we risk making mud.  Value studies are good. Value block- ins are helpful. Lots of practice seeing value is important. I have a great exercise to try. Why not try limiting your palette?

I love painting with ONE COLOR....a Monochromatic color scheme.  I pick a color and allow myself to use a full value range of that color. I give myself permission to use both warm and cool versions of my color. This gives me quite a few choices.


I did an alcohol wash underpainting using only yellow Nupastels
Here are Three Reasons to Paint with one color

1. Working with one color helps the value challenged.  If you have trouble simplifying a busy scene into a few values often adding color choices to the mix makes it even harder.  Working with one color takes color out of the equation so that you can concentrate on getting the values correct.

2. Working with one color helps you become intimate with the color.  Not only is it easier to see value within one color it is also easy to judge color temperature.....putting a cool yellow next to a warm one makes the difference between them more clear. Is one closer to orange? Is one closer to blue or green? It is easy to see when they are together.

3. Working with one color is manageable.  Sometimes it is nice to keep things simple. Pick a color, any color and forget about all of the pastels in your boxes. Keep it simple and concentrate on your values or your composition or your strokes and mark-making. Give yourself one less thing to worry about!

Yes I cheated a bit in my painting. You probably noticed it is not strictly monochromatic. I couldn't resist a pop of blue-purple. My yellow needed it (but I waited until the very end!)

This week's challenge:
Try a monochromatic painting. Either stick to a value range of one specific color such as Ultramarine blue....or choose a color and allow for warm and cool versions of the color.

3 comments:

Pepe said...

Te felicito por tus pasteles

pattisjarrett said...

I like this! What a great idea, will have to give it a try.

robertsloan2art said...

This is so awesome! I did this in one class with gouache, so I chose yellow because it gave me two colors. Olive green in the shades and yellows in the tints let me play around with greater variety from one pigment.

Monochrome with a few small complement accents becomes spectacular! It would work just as well the other way round - blue-violet monochrome with a tiny accent of warm light in the evening or pre-dawn morning. Turquoise undersea scenes are fantastic. Some monochromes just look perfectly natural.

Your gray looked blue-violet in the underpainting, just as gray always picks up the complement in a monochrome painting. Strengthening the hue in the finish was your own brilliant awareness of color and impact.