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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Another Good Reason for Using Bad Photos

'Oldtimers'               11x14               pastel            ©Karen Margulis
Color gets all the glory. When color in a painting is working we are intrigued. Color can draw us to a painting but it the value that keeps it all together.  The well know quote that Value does all the work but Color gets the glory is a good  one to remember.

I love to play with color. One of my favorite painting games is to take a scene and see how many ways I can interpret it through color changes.  This is where bad reference photos help. When the photo is over exposed or washed out it is easier to invent the color. I can take a bad photo and use the colors I want as long as I can create a strong value map. If I get the values right I can get away with any color I want. (color harmony is needed but that's another post!)

Today's painting is based on a bad photo. You can see the reference photo above. It is dull and washed out. But I can clearly see the dark mass of the trees against the light of the sky. It is a perfect scene for color play.

I decided I wanted a yellow sky. All I needed to do was follow my value thumbnail and choose the right values for the trees, sky and grasses and the painting should work. Each new color combination will create a different mood. I can't wait to try another one!

painting notes: 11x14 Ersta sanded paper with a dark blue alcohol wash underpainting


Jaslynn Joan said...

Really great.. By seeing a dull photo, you beautifully draw that trees.. Amazing!!!
Jaslynn, Bizbilla b2b portal

Hélène said...

Love your colours palette for this one.
Thank's again for sharing.

Hélène -Québec - Canada

robertsloan2art said...

I love the way it works in a pastel painting to just give it a yellow sky or a pink sky, anything but blue. It continues to boggle me but of course it's real, dawn does all these strange color shifts to the sky just as blue monochromes are that true for twilight or pre-dawn blue.

This article literally could not come on a better day. I just got my Blue Earth 21 color Land & Sea set. It is a landscape set. I've seen someone do a gorgeous landscape with it. There are seven evenly graded values and three colors in each, mostly leaning cool with some warms up in the lighter end of the range. Warm lights, cool darks.

It's a well designed little palette that just isn't mine. I love the strong saturated colors and tints and shades around the spectrum. This is muted - and the middle values where there's usually the most color are particularly muted.

It's a challenging palette. I can punch up color by juxtaposition. At worst I can get out the little box I first bought, six color sampler and some important secondaries, to have bright hue accents. The challenge for me is not opening that other box. Using this palette as is for a limited palette and doing a good landscape with this strange, misty looking collection.

I think I might get my best results doing a skyscape with lots of clouds or a moody misty landscape... thinking about different subjects. Maybe the best place to go is to skim my sketchbooks for old thumbnails and plein air sketches or phone photos, something where value masses are the main thing and details secondary. Thank you for helping me sort out what to do with it!

Karen said...

Interesting observations about the blue earth set. Ill be interested to see what you do with them!!!

Sandi G said...

Hi Karen, during my underpainting experiment with cool and then warm colors I really had to work hard to keep values in mind as I placed the complimentary colors on the two paintings . I really enjoyed what I learned .
I loved creating these paintings and I was forced to really think about color and value in the very beginning of each painting.
I wasn't sure where it would take me as sometimes I act instinctively when working on a painting . I think this is a very worthy practice to try and I learned a lot .
Thanks for each and every suggestion.