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Friday, February 17, 2017

A Simple Tool for More Harmonious Color in Your Paintings

'Find Your Way'          12x18           pastel         ©Karen Margulis
I love color. I was just discussing this with a friend. We decided that we are both drawn to pastels because of the ease of obtaining color. No need to mix....just select from a box. (which leads to pastel addiction which is another post!)  Having color at our fingertips is wonderful but it can also cause problems obtaining pleasing and harmonious color. It is too easy to have too many colors in one painting or too many unrelated colors leading to color chaos.

I shared color problems and solutions in my recent workshop on color and I'd like to share one of the exercises we worked on with you. One of the ways we can move beyond  uninteresting local color and achieve more interesting and harmonious color solutions is to work with the color wheel and choose a color scheme for the painting. I like to call them color recipes.

My painting with planning tools....thumbnail, color worksheet and color map

Color schemes/ recipes are combination of colors based upon their relationship on the color wheel. They are balanced and work well together. There are simple color schemes such as complimentary using just two colors but they can get more involved with triads and tetrads. And even more complicated. How about an Adjacent-Complementary Tetrad?  Working with color recipes are fun but I find it challenging to keep the colors in my recipe in my mind. I need to see my color choices! Especially as I move into the more involved recipes.

I came up with a solution...a COLOR RECIPE WORKSHEET.

Read on to see how it works.

My Color Recipe Worksheet

  • You need a color wheel to help you choose the color recipe you want to use. If you aren't familiar with color theory or working with color schemes I recommend you get a good book. I highly recommend Nita Leland's books on color: "Exploring Color Workshop 30th Anniversary Edition" and "Confident Color" These books are my go-to books on color.
  • Once you have selected the recipe or scheme you want to use it is time to pick your palette of pastels that fit the scheme. This is where it is easy to get confused. I find that if I make little marks or color swatches I have a visual reminder of the colors I can use in my scheme.
  • I like worksheets. They keep me focused, organized and on task. They make me PLAN rather than skip over or forget an important step. I created a worksheet for using color recipes/schemes. The worksheet gives me a place to make marks of the colors I will use and I can refer to the worksheet as I paint making sure I stay true to my scheme.
  • TIP 1: The worksheet allows you to choose your main colors and gives you room to make swatches of the variations of these colors. A color scheme can include a variety of values and intensities of each color. For example if blue is in your scheme you can have pure intense blues as well as grayed blues....light blues to dark blues. This adds variety to your scheme while keeping  color harmony.
  • TIP 2: A scheme should have unequal amounts of each color and usually have one color as the dominant color.
  • Once the colors for the scheme are selected I like to make a quick and very rough color map to show how the colors relate. See below.

Rough color map using the colors in my recipe

I'd love to share my Color Recipe Worksheet with you. I am always looking for ways to help me plan my paintings and I have enjoyed using this worksheet. I am making it available in my Etsy shop for just 99 cents as a PDF download. You can download the worksheet and make copies for your color recipe explorations. Click here to purchase the worksheet: https://www.etsy.com/listing/499438924/color-recipe-color-scheme-painting

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Interesting worksheet! I don't usually plan color in advance, but this would make it easy.