Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Color Block Exercise

I highly recommend studies of colored blocks set up in a variety of light sources - one light source per painting.  You will learn more about color by doing this exercise than painting from a photograph. Use a  9 x 12" or 11 x 14" canvas panel. Don't labor over these. It's an exercise. Observe the color spot; match the color; apply the paint. 

1.   Using a brush, draw the blocks on your canvas as close to life size as possible.
2.  Observe each side of the block or the background adjacent to it and mix a single color spot and apply it with a palette knife or as few strokes as possible. 
3.  Cover the canvas before you go back and assess your choices or make any changes.  
4. As you work compare each color spot to the one next to it by running through the three properties of color.  Is it warmer/cooler, brighter/duller, lighter/darker than the spot next to it?  Relate.  
5.  Don't jump all over the canvas.  Relate each spot to the adjacent spot.
6.  As you compare on your second/third/fourth pass at the canvas, make any adjustment you see.  Trust your eye, not your brain.  If the gray cloth looks alizarin-ish, add alizarin. 

Keep in mind two types of comparisons you are making:

1.  Compare the adjacent sides of a color block in the set-up.  Then make the same comparison in your painting.  So, in the set-up, compare the top of a block to the side of the same block.  Then, compare the top of the that block to the side of the same block in your painting.  Relate within the set-up, then relate within the painting. This is to this, as that is to that. The goal is to accurately see the relationships in the set-up and to create the same relationships in the painting.

2.  You can double check the accuracy of your color spots by rapidly flicking your eyes back and forth between a spot in the set up and the same spot in the painting.  Quickly glance back and forth between the top of a block in the set-up and the top of the same block in the painting.  What is lacking in your color spot will rise to the surface.  If your spot needs green, you will see it's lack as you glance back and forth.

So, relate this is to this as that is to that to make your color spots.  Then, relate this to that to check yourself.

What you do in this exercise is what you should be doing all of the time when painting from life, whatever the subject matter.  You cannot learn about color from photographs.  The photograph is not subtle enough to make distinctions. It generalizes color.  It does not accurately record relationships, so the information is simply not there for you to use.

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