Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How to Move Beyond Local Color

'Time for a Change'             12x16              pastel               ©Karen Margulis  
painting available in my Etsy shop        $165





 We have heard it before. Value does the work and color gets the glory. This means that we should be able to use any colors we want in a painting as long as the values are correct. So we can have purple cows and blue trees and they will be recognizable if we have the values in the right place.

We may know this to be true but how come it can be so difficult to put it into practice? How come it is so challenging sometimes to move beyond the local color? Skies don't always have to be blue and grass isn't always green. Being bold and unafraid can help. Being willing to take risks and try unexpected colors is important. But it doesn't always lead to a successful painting.

There is more to moving beyond local color than just being unafraid of using color. We need to understand how to use colors that are harmonious and work well together.

value underpainitng with a 305 Nupastel and alcohol wash
 In today's private class we played with color. We took a marsh scene and moved it beyond the local colors shown in the reference photo. The marsh grasses were green. The sky was washed out. We wanted to make the colors interesting but still make sense.  It was time for a little color theory and the use of a color wheel.

We talked about the properties of color and the color wheel. We explored the idea of using color schemes for choosing our palette for a painting. We discussed the practice of 'winging it' for color choices vs. having a plan for color. Winging it is exciting and can be fun but it doesn't always lead to a successful painting.

Having a plan for color is the best way for success. Especially when trying to move beyond local color.  My favorite book on color is 'Confident Color' by Nita Leland. It has a wonderful section devoted to the various color schemes that are possible. I love using this book to expand my palette and give me ideas for new color schemes. For today's demo I chose a Low Intensity Modern Triad. I liked this palette and will use it again. It is fun to find new ways to put together color!

The palette used for the painting 
 TIP: Choose a simple subject and plan to paint several versions using a different color scheme for each one. See how your color choices lead to very different results. Choose colors that you wouldn't usually choose.


4 comments:

Lori Welch said...

Gorgeous Karen! I definitely find myself drawn to paintings where artists use non-local color schemes, but definitely struggle with putting it into practice myself. Thanks so much for the tips and the book recommendation - definitely going to check that out!

Cris K said...

This is a particularly lovely painting Karen. It really grabbed me.

robertsloan2art said...

Gorgeous painting. It looks autumnal, all those golds and browns in the reeds remind me of the marshes in the fall where I grew up. Moving beyond local color is interesting, have had some ideas on that but mostly toward a more saturated palette rather than less saturated. Once in a while I'll use a muted palette and get that mood though.

Some of it for me is that I tend to paint the opposite of the season. If I'm cold I long for warmth and lush greens, when I'm too hot that's when autumn and winter scenes call to me. There's a lot of intensity in that.

One thing I love to do in photos is change the season and the lighting. Photos really just give form and their color is way off to begin with. If I want true local color I have to look at nature or rely on memory. That's where outdoor sketching really helps!

tres said...

And again, another very helpful post!! Wow, I'm so happy to find so much helpful info concerning pastels...and all on one website! Feel like I hit the pastel lottery! Lol Thanks Again!! :)