Saturday, July 5, 2014

Taking Colors Seriously

I have been thinking about colors a lot lately. I tend to use colors instinctively, on the fly, using either those that are closest to the actual colors of the subject or colors that I like - bright yellows, magenta and cerulean blue. This strategy often ends up being a hit and miss...more miss than hit that is, with me ending up agonizing over it while I paint and then after I paint.

So I thought I'd make my life easier and give it some serious thought before I even touch the paint. Personally, this takes a lot of self-control on my part, as it is always sooo tempting to take the brush and start painting once the sketch is done. Go with the flow. That's how I like it. I love watching how the plain sketches come to life when I add the colors in. It is one of the best parts of painting! That is before I choose one "unsuitable" color and end up ruining the entire watercolor painting.
I guess it's easier to correct color mistakes nowadays with Photoshop or other digital software but its not the same. I still know I made a mistake and the original painting shows it.

Looking at the works of established illustrators, I realized I should be giving my choice of colors some serious thought. It is one of those things that significantly define an artist's work, I believe. Some of  my favorite illustrators even limit most or even all of their works within a specific range of colors. While I'm far from defining myself to a specific color palette, I should at least begin to study how to make harmonious color combinations.

To help me with this, I bought myself a pocket color wheel chart.These are what I know about color wheels so far:
- It helps me figure out what colors to mix to produce the colors I want.
- To make a shadow color of a main color, I need to mix the complimentary of that color and it is easier to
  figure out by looking at the opposite of that color in the color wheel.
- To make a lighter color of the main color, I need to mix the lighter color beside the main color plus white.

I found watching these basic video tutorials quite helpful in understanding the fundamentals. Apparently, there are a whole lot of video tutorials out there that delve into this subject more thoroughly.

So for my first try, I'm sticking on variations of the primary colors. I must say, by just planning my colors beforehand, it makes my painting life a lot more enjoyable. As an extra study exercise, I'm looking at illustrations and then figuring what combinations they are in the color wheel. I learn new things every day.

Hummingbird in Gouache

We met Mr. Crabby here on our recent vacation in Parksville, B.C.
And I must say, we all had a great time chasing him around. :)
Bonjour, Mr. Crabby!  (rendered in ink and digitally colored on smartphone)


Lea Goward said...

As usual, a great post, Emilie! I know exactly what you mean about colour theory. I too jump in without selecting a colour palette in advance. To my detriment, I'm not a methodical person when learning technical stuff. Too darn impatient! I'm inspired to learn more about colour, from your post. Love your illustrations. Mr. Crabby is great!

emilie said...

Thanks Lea! Its nice to know you also feel the same and that Im not alone in my struggles. Patience in art really is a virtue. :) thanks for dropping by and leaving nice comments. Makes is less lonely out here. :)