Month: February 2014

Color Schemes

matisseboth

For our Color Boot Camp final project, each student picked a black-and-white reproduction of a masterwork and imposed their own color scheme on it, repainting the image in the same values with new colors.  Anne chose an analogous color scheme for this Matisse: Red violet, violet, and blue-violet, adjacent colors on the color wheel. The swatches we’d made earlier came in handy for everyone to see what they had to work with:

matiseepalette

The rules were that you had to use one of your previously mixed limited palettes, match the light-dark relationships on the original, and confine yourself to one of three standard color schemes: complementary (e.g., red & green & whatever neutrals you can mix from those two), split complementary (e.g., red, blue-green, yellow-green, and mixed neutrals), or analogous (see above)

Another student covered Wayne Thiebaud, using a split-complementary scheme of green, red-orange, and yellow-orange:

thiebaudpalette

No one was allowed to look at colored pictures of the original until they were done.

Here’s her version of  “Around the Cake” with Wayne’s own on the right:

thiebaudcoverthiebaudAroundthecake

And below left,  Matisse by Anne, and right, Matisse by Matisse. Matisse showed uncharacteristic restraint with his triadic scheme of the three primaries.

matissefinshedmatisse11

In many of his later paintings, one can only classify the color scheme as “All of Them.” (We’ll try that one in Color Boot Camp III perhaps.)

Red Robe and Violet Tulips, 1937

Red Robe and Violet Tulips, 1937

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Colored shadows

Today in Color Boot Camp class we took a look at the colors of shadows, how the colors of cast shadows are influenced the color of the object casting the shadow, and more dramatically, the light source. Here is a mandarin orange on a pink paper napkin sitting on the table, with light coming from the windows (south windows, but this is Seattle in the winter so the light is pretty much cool from all directions):

daylightorange

The same orange on the same napkin held against the wall, with halogen lights coming from above:

halogenorange

I grabbed the pinks of the napkin from the photos and placed them side by side. The top pair are the cool light area and warm shadow of the napkin in daylight (warm light from other light sources in the room is hitting the shadow –and it’s hitting the  dark side of the orange, too making it glow red)

The second pair are the warm light pink and cool bluish shadow of the napkin under halogen light.

fourpinks

Maybe just painters find this stuff fascinating (and useful) now, but in the eighteenth century, when people presumably wasted far less time on cat videos, Abbe Millot, a former Jesuit and the grand vicar of Lyon, in a personal letter to a friend (remember those?), wrote a lengthy, extremely well-observed, highly detailed description of the shadows in his room cast by two different windows at various times of day.  Some details sound right out of a Thiebaud painting: “a strongly coloured sort of penumbra…a double blue border on one side, and a green or red or yellow one on the other.”

This is quoted in Shadows and Enlightenment, a book about the eighteenth-century preoccupation with shadow (Millot apparently wasn’t alone in his obsession), by the late great Michael Baxandall.

Color Boot Camp

Color Boot Camp, which started in January, is in its final weeks. We’ve had a fabulous session with a group of six excellent painters. Choosing just three pure pigments that fall into the red, blue, and yellow categories, each student mixed a full palette of secondaries, tertiaries, tints, and tones, 81 colors from just 3 colors and white, ending up with a set of useful reference swatches.

jennyorange annemixing

We used that palette to paint this still life, paying particular attention to the colors of the shadows, and how to interpret and make sense of its weird colors with the palette you have. Everyone’s palette was slightly different, since they’re each mixed from different primaries, but each palette has an internal cohesiveness to it, lending harmony to the paintings.

stilllife

Then we ate it.  (The eggs were hard-boiled)