Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cover the Canvas

One of the first things that Sergei Bongart said to students was to cover the canvas.  He would not critique any other aspect of your painting until you had the first pass down on the canvas and it was completely covered, with no bare or white areas of canvas showing. Every teacher I have ever taken from, who knew what they were doing, gave the same advice.

Why is it so important to cover the canvas? Because no color spot can be evaluated on its own, only in relation to the other color spots. Whether you work on a white canvas or a toned canvas - that canvas will influence how you see the color spots you put on it. Until you cover the canvas you cannot assess the color relationships without that influence. The first pass is your best guess. It will be inaccurate. It is impossible for it not to be inaccurate.  You have nothing to relate the color spots to. That's why you don't spend a lot of time on the first pass. You have to get the canvas covered before you can really begin. Then, with each succeeding pass assess each color spot and if it needs correction, correct it. That is how the painting process works.

After you have covered the canvas, use the three properties of color to assess and improve the color relationships between the color spots? The three properties of color are:
  • Hue - Identify the color family (red, blue, yellow, green, orange, violet).  Within that color family is it warm or cool?
  • Chroma - Is it bright or dull?
  • Value - Is it light or dark?
That's it. Relate any two color spots within the painting based on the three properties. Which is the warmest. Which the coolest. Which the brightest or dullest. Which the lightest or darkest.

Let's look more closely at the properties of color using red as an example.
  • Hue
    • A warm red has a bias towards yellow - an orangey red like coral
    • A cool red has a bias towards blue - a violet red like magenta
  • Chroma
    • A bright red is not toned by the complement - fire engine red
    • A dull red is toned by the complement - terra cotta red
  • Value
    • A light red has white or a lighter value color added - pink
    • A dark red has black or a darker value color added - burgundy red
To correct color relationships in your painting, relate or compare similar things, using the three properties as a basis for comparison.
  • Compare all the greens; compare all the reds, etc.
  • Compare all the light values - which is the lightest
  • Compare all the dark values - which is the darkest
  • Compare all the bright colors - which is the brightest
  • Compare all the dull colors - which is the dullest
Cover the canvas, compare and correct. 

No comments:

Post a Comment