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Friday, May 08, 2015

Why Does Violet Help a Landscape Painting?

'When in Doubt Add Purple'             11x14             pastel             ©Karen Margulis
Painting is available $175
 We are entering into Green Season. We have a lot of green in Georgia so I am used to dealing with it. It was a struggle though until I learned about the secret. If you have studied with Richard McKinley or read his 'Pastel Pointers' blog or book then you know the secret. Adding Orange and Violet to large green masses creates natural harmony. You can read more about why on Richard's blog post on green here. 

It is great to know the science behind the secret. It makes sense that putting some purple next to your greens will make them look warmer and less artificial. (simultaneous contrast)  While I understand the science I usually just remember this thought....When in doubt add some purple!

But how do we add orange and violet to a landscape? 

Purple tinted clear gesso over a piece of Multimedia Artboard

One of my favorite ways to incorporate them is in the underpainting. Reds and oranges are often used to tone or block in a painting that will have a lot of green. This way the bits of orange peek through and warm up the greens. Purple can also be added through the underpainting. 

For today's painting I decided to tone my paper purple. This helped to subtly introduce the friend of green to my painting. I also chose purple because of my subject. I was painting a meadow of Purple Coneflowers. The flowers were woven into the grasses. I didn't want to paint each and every flower though. I wanted to merely hint at some of them. The purple underpainting helps give the illusion of many many flowers in the meadow.

The purple in the trees and sky also help to harmonize the entire painting. Yes, when in doubt add some purple! 


A couple of close-ups

3 comments:

robertsloan2art said...

Wonderful idea. I love the way you used that to intensify the coneflowers. I think of them as echinacea, the name I first heard for them.

That principle of purple and orange to jazz up greens has completely transformed my landscapes. This article is so valuable! Whoever finds this first is going to love you forever. This is an essential lesson.

I boiled it down to Secondary Triad. If you use those colors in a limited palette it works, in a better way than a primary triad.

Art Paintings said...

Use of Violet in flowers is giving good look to the whole painting

Charlie said...

Great post, Karen

Seems to me that if the aim is to take away a bit of the "too acidly green" of the green pigment then adding a near complementary would do the trick without greying the green too much. Orange contains red (plus sunny yellow which adds to the yellow component of green), and violet contains red (and shady blue, adding to blue component of green).

Beautiful example, love your flowers!