I’m coming up for air….. just for a moment….

Hat City Kitchen ... Listening to the Blues

Hat City Kitchen … Listening to the Blues

I’ve been happily lost in the world of live music, art exhibits, travel adventures and learning how to make my own online tutorials.

The Bad Hands - 4th Annual Blues Bash

The Bad Hands – 4th Annual Blues Bash

To top it off, it’s getting warmer and I’ll be back to drawing in my garden within weeks!

Happy Spring!

Paintings: drawn first in ink with dip pen followed by watercolor, painted during live performances.

Video: demonstration of creating a color wheel for the color scheme game using raw sienna, cadmium red deep and ultramarine blue as my primaries.

Adjacent Double Near Complements may not be an official Color Scheme but it is one I find I intuitively use quite often.  I generally choose either the warm half of the color wheel (skipping the center two hues) or the cool half of the color wheel (skipping the center two hues).  It works well with the in-between colors as well.  Pick any two adjacent two colors, skip the next two colors in either direction and use the next two colors.  It’s simple and it is beautiful.

Harp Player and Sean Daly, The Grisly Pear

This painting, created during the January 30, 2012 Blues Jam at The Grisly Pear in the West Village, illustrates the ADNC color scheme.  (Violet, Red Violet, Orange Yellow and Yellow.

Drawn first with dip pen and black ink, followed by watercolor.

Extended Analogous with One Complement

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Links to sample paintings using the various color schemes are now on the Color Scheme Game Page.

Playing the Color Scheme Game every morning is helping to strengthen the colors I use the rest of the day and into the night.  The painting above, painted during the weekly Blues Jam, is an excellent example of unintentional application of my morning experiments.

Painting: Portrait of V.D. King drawn first with dip pen followed by watercolor.  Painted at The Grisly Pear in New York City.

Here is another sample of the double complementary color scheme I used at the Raven’s Nest Blues Jam on Wednesday night.

Arne Englund and Don Plowman, Raven's Nest Blues Jam

The dominant complements are purple / yellow.  The supporting complements are blue / orange.  The two are united by the red tone in the ink line that bleeds nicely into each of the colors, acting as a mother color.  Several years ago, after reading Stephen Quiller’s Painter’s Guide to Color, I was inspired to try using a mother color to unite my palette.

Painting: Painted on location during the weekly Blues Jam at Raven’s Nest, Quakertown, PA.  First drawn with dip pen using Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses Ink, followed by watercolor

While the musicians set up for the Blues Jam at the Raven’s Nest on Wednesday night, I sketched the piano in the corner.

Table with Flowers and Piano in the Corner

Turned out to be a double complementary color scheme: Purple / Yellow and Blue / Orange, the Purple / Yellow being dominant and the Blue / Orange acting as supporting actors.

The Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses add such a lovely touch of color as it bleeds into the watercolor. I enjoyed the reflections in the table as well as the reflection of the framed drawing in the front panel of the piano.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with dip pen and ink followed by watercolor.

Purple and Yellow complements with a neutralized red making the triad.

David French singing the Blues

Most of my paintings from Monday Night Blues Jam at The Grisly Pear ended up being triad color schemes, one of the colors being neutralized.  Perhaps this week’s small oil paintings using Color Wheel Five as a reference influenced where I dipped my brush in the dark.  I find triads pleasing and lively.

Sketch: first drawn with dip pen (Diamine Denim ink) and watercolor wash.

Dominant complements of red and green are tied together with high key (light value) complements of yellow and purple.

Lisa Parry at the Blues Jam

Using watercolor and ink together allows for things to happen on their own.  Colors can bleed into one another, blurring edges beautifully and mixing to just the right color to allow a sketch to come to life.  The red watercolor mixed with the Blue Nose Bear ink to produce a wonderful, subtle (and pale) purple suggesting a slightly shadowed lower face and neck.  It did not bleed enough to reach the cheek and side of the forehead, nor the tip of the ear.  Here, the yellow suggests a bit of light hitting the face.

Sketch: Drawn first with dip pen using Noodler’s Blue Nose Bear ink, followed by watercolor squeezed from a tube.

Watercolor allows me to vary the value of the color (hue) without diminishing the characteristics of the hue.

Rich Frikkers on Drums, Blues Jam

In the painting above I have taken advantage of the intrinsic value of purple.  Purple, without dilution is a dark value.  It contrasts well with light-valued yellows.

Rich Frikkers and Justine, Blues Jam

In this second painting, I used exactly the same pigments, but diluted the purple to a lighter value, one much closer to the intrinsic value of yellow.  An extra dip into the water tin and a totally different effect is created.

When thinking about painting en plein air landscapes, controlling the level of contrast between values is essential to capturing the light effects of the day.  Sunny days show the entire range of the value scale.   Cloudy days exhibit only the mid-range of the value scale.

Paintings: Painted during the Todd Wolfe Tuesday Night Blues Jam in Easton, PA.  Drawn first with black ink using a dip pen, followed by washes of watercolor.

Analogous Complements are defined as three adjacent hues plus the complement of one of the hues.

Rob Fraser and Steve Decker, Blues Jam

Dutchman and Steve Decker, Blues Jam

Both of these paintings fall into the category of Analogous Complement Color Scheme, though I am pushing it a bit by including the yellow green.  I find it almost impossible to tack a color scheme label onto a painting after the fact.  However, to discuss how colors work together to express mood and movement, a vocabulary must be agreed upon. To recognize  a clearly defined color scheme and one that extends beyond the bounds of the color scheme label is instructive.

Both of these paintings are low contrast paintings meaning that all of the colors are close in value ( white to black on the value scale)  The closeness of value combined with the color scheme of Analogous Complements creates a more subdued tempo of visual rhythm than a high contrast primary color scheme such as the painting below.

Justine Gardner, Blues Jam

Another example of high contrast primary colors where the blue and red are slightly neutralized is shown below.

Mike and Justine, Blues Jam

My point is that no matter what color scheme you choose, the range of values (light to dark) is of primary importance.  I find it more effective to be decisive about value and allow color to be experimental.

Paintings: Painted during the Tuesday Night Blues Jam in Easton, PA.  Drawn first with black ink using a dip pen, followed by watercolor.

There is no time to plan ahead when painting musicians jamming in a bar.  I dip into the paint based on the local color value rather than the hue since I can’t really see it in the dark anyway.  Fresher and more inventive color schemes are the result of such blind choices.

Arthur Nielson, The Grisly Bear, NYC

The next morning, in the light of day, the color scheme of a painting can sometimes be labeled.  I end up analyzing the effects of color combinations that please or intrigue me so that I might use them with intention in plein air or studio work.

Paintings that transition along the color spectrum from yellow to purple delight me.  On occasion I have forced this color scheme into a painting and failed miserably.  Yesterday morning when I spread out the paintings I had done the night before at Big Ed Sullivans Blues Jam at The Grisly Pear I smiled seeing this painting of Arthur.  The transitions work effortlessly.

Sometimes it can be an extremely small area of a painting that makes the difference.  In this case, I believe it is the tiny spot on Arthur’s shirt where the red of the guitar bleeds into the green of the shirt. It ties the softer, analagous colors of the top half of the painting to the bolder, sharp-edged shapes of the bottom of the painting where the colors at the other end of the spectrum reside.

The only color missing is blue, though it is represented in the green and in the purple.  Full spectrum paintings are more pleasing to me when one of the six primary and secondary colors is omitted in its pure form.

Painting: drawn first in black ink with dip pen followed by washes of watercolor