Friday, April 18, 2008

My Art Story Continues - The Color Sandwich

To continue from my previous post....In the years I was painting in oils from 1977 through 1979 I had begun to notice that my experience and understanding of color was becoming complicated.
I was finding that a color did not need to be mixed on my palette and then painted onto the canvas. I started to experiment with how to apply several colors onto the canvas at once in such a way that they would keep their own identity yet blend in the viewer's eyes to create the color I intended.
In effect - there is no such thing as one
individual color, even the primary colors can be different hues and shades.
For example: if you want to create the color "orange", traditionally you mix red and yellow on the palette and apply it to your canvas. And you maybe mix in some white to lighten it. The particular orange you get depends on how much red and how much yellow you put into the mix. But to test my new theory I decided to see what would happen if I applied first a layer of red to the canvas and then another layer of yellow on top of that. Would that make "orange" or just make a mess? It sort of made a mess but I knew I was on to something.This painting is one of my first attempts at my new color theory.
I started to experiment with the way I applied the different layers of color. Each color needs to be viewable through the layer of color on top of it. For example, if I was painting this field of dried grass I not only needed to show the orangey color of the grass but I wanted the viewer to be able to see the yellows, greens, pinks and blues that also go into seeing the full range of color in that grass.
I settled on a strict "crosshatching" method of applying the paint. As you can see in this closeup , I broke up the scene into color "areas", painted in the background color of each one and then applied crosshatches of the other colors that would blend in the viewers' eyes to create my final intended color. I also noticed that this crosshatching gives the scene a subtle vibration and life.Here is another example. It is a blue couch, indoors, lit by a reading lamp. If I had simply painted it in the traditional method, I would have used a blue color for the couch and a yellow color for the wall behind it. That was just not going to express the scene for me though! So first I divided the scene into its color areas - a narrow field of yellow at the top and a wider field of blue across the lower part of the canvas. Then I laid in all the other attendant colors in a crosshatched pattern . This creates a 3-dimensional effect where the viewer's eyes have to put the colors is like a color sandwich where each ingredient is separate but blends to one taste. Or it can be compared to a musical chord where each note is separate yet is heard altogether in the listener's ears.
There's more to come...

1 comment:

Stacy Alexander said...

This is a fantastic tutorial, Kim. You should think about submitting a proposal to Northlight Books to teach this method!