Coming up soon!  Both The Color Scheme Game Workshop and the Color Value Workshop is being offered back to back at the National Association for Women Artists in New York City on June 18th and 19th.  Call the N.A.W.A. office to register (212) 675-1616.  Space is limited to eight students.

Raw Sienna, Cadmium Red Deep and Ultramarine Blue

Raw Sienna, Cadmium Red Deep and Ultramarine Blue

Since teaching the last workshop at N.A.W.A. I have had several personal breakthroughs with color, experimenting with more neutralized primaries and discovering gorgeous palettes.  I also attended a fabulous workshop with Don Andrews.  Again, I experienced several important breakthroughs regarding maintaining strong color when working with color value.  I’ll be sharing these breakthroughs at the upcoming workshops in New York City.

Herman's Roping Boots

Seashells, Westmoreland State Park, VA

Seashells, Westmoreland State Park, VA

Seashells No.3, Myrtle Beach, SC

Seashells No.3, Myrtle Beach, SC

Blue Crab Belly

Blue Crab Belly

Click here for more info and materials list.  Please Contact me if you have questions.

Art can be about creating believable illusions.

Star Ornament

The geometric overlay shapes don’t really make sense.  If the circles and the yellow square were translucent acetate sheets, where the yellow square overlaps the red circle, the circle would appear orange through the yellow square.  Where the yellow square overlaps the blue circle, the circle would look green.  The only way you might see part of the blue circle looking blue would be if the yellow square had that shape cut out of it so that the blue color of the circle could be seen.  The blue circle would have to be opaque to block the red circle from being seen.  Sometimes reality doesn’t matter.  I like the blue shape and it was fun playing with the primary and secondary colors.

Sketchbook Drawing: drawn first with pencil followed by watercolor.

My favorite toy was a spinning top like the one pictured below.  Eventually, from too much use, I bent the rotating helical screw blade that turned the gears and caused the three discs to turn.

Spinning Top

When my daughters were born, I hunted everywhere to find such a top and could only find tops with four discs, not three.  They didn’t work to create the illusions of the secondary colors radiating out from the center as the top spun.  Fourteen years later I finally found the top in a specialty toy store and bought all that they had.

While glancing about to find what the subject of my next ‘Family Treasures’ drawing would be, I saw the spinning top.  In an instant I realized that I have learned a great deal over the past year having played The Color Scheme Game every morning of every day. I had always wondered why the orange, green and purple that appeared on the spinning top were so muted.  As I glanced at the yellow, blue and red on each of the discs I heard myself laughing aloud.  Hah!  Mystery solved!

What a joy it is to arrive at a point where the study, the exploration, the experimentation …. results in assimilated understanding and knowledge.  Try it….. you’ll like it …..

I thought my iphone would be able to capture the radiating secondary color mixes.  It did, but barely. I should have turned my phone in the other direction.  At least I learned how to upload a video to YouTube.  Link to Spinning Top Video.

Here is another variation of the basic three hue mixes for the Color Wheel Game Color Wheels.

New Gamboge, Speedball Red, Joe’s Blue (Phthalo) Color Wheel

The Color Wheel on the left is another example of a fifteen minute watercolor, color wheel presented in the Color Game Workshop.  To the right is a color wheel showing neutrals created by mixing near complements from the colors created for the wheel on the left.

Two Variations of the near complement mixes

You have two choices when mixing near complements, the one to the right of the complement and the one to the left of the complement.  The two wheels above show both variations as well as showing different ways of applying the paint to create the color wheel.  I try to get as much information as possible in each wheel.  These neutral mix color wheels are far more time consuming than the fifteen minute basic color wheel.  It is soooooooo easy to get confused and mix the wrong colors.

These wheels were made using New Gamboge, Speedball Red and Joe’s Blue (phthalo).  It is a versatile color palette and may become one of my favorites.

The left side of the brain designs color wheels for the right side of the brain to acquire skills for use as an artist. Logic doesn’t always produce the results that the left side of the brain predicts.

An "I should have known that" moment

Although the colors of the images I post are not true to the actual color wheel due to my scanner and my processing of the images, it is still obvious that the values of the colors are not falling into place as I had planned.  I tried to keep the colors working from cool to warm / warm to cool, as is most familiar, while simultaneously presenting the colors by light to dark / dark to light.  What I love about creating these wheels is that I learn, either as a reminder or as something new, more about mixing colors and why I have encountered problems in the past when nixing pigments.  For me, learning more about the science of color and light has helped enormously.  Still, my left side of the brain refuses to get with the program.

I knew, based on previous color / value charts that the Manganese Blue would have to be moved to the other side of the greens.  Apparently I had applied both Viridian and Permanent Sap Green in a thicker layer on my original chart.  In this chart, the transparency of the pigment altered the value of the pigment and Sap Green appears darker in value than Viridian, something I will remember when painting. The second alteration that should have been made was the switch of the purple hue that results from mixing Alizarin Crimson with French Ultramarine Blue.  Of course it will be a darker value!  Even the left side of my brain should have known that. More light waves are being absorbed, or canceled out, resulting in a hue of darker value.

Another observation to be made by actually creating the wheel rather than just studying mine is the muted hue that results when the Cadmium Red Light is mixed with the Alizarin Crimson.  Why?  Because all three primaries have been introduced, neutralizing the color mixture.  Alizarin Crimson has red and blue.  Cadmium Red Light has red and yellow.  When all three primaries are present, a bit of everything is absorbed, resulting in a more neutralized, less saturated color.

I found the perfect toys to paint while buying a puppet for a one year old last week.  I thought I might try a few sketches with pastels. I gave the puppet to Jona and kept the helicopters.

Helicopters in primary colors

It’s clear to me that the blue helicopter wants to be much darker in value.  These little toys will be fun to paint in both oil and watercolor.

Grayscale mode after darkening the blue helicopter

Darker Blue Helicopter

I darkened the lower portion of the red helicopter, too.

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.

My gloom comes through my morning sketch, plagued by distraction and inattentiveness.

Jet Plane Game Markers from my childhood

Primary color scheme is usually quite bright and cheery.

Sometimes being distracted while drawing can lead to a breakthrough, a leap to a new, high plane of understanding and expressiveness.  Other times, such as this, it leads only to a dismal drawing that falls far short of its mark.

The last few lines of a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow come to mind:

“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.”

Today will be better, even if the sun doesn’t shine.  It’s up to me to make it that way.  I’ll try the little game pieces again tomorrow morning.

Drawn first in ink, followed by Marvy Markers and ending with a bit of watercolor and gouache in an attempt to recovery some energy.

The choice was to either tumble into bed or to force myself to stay awake long enough to do a quick drawing in the sketchbook that is next in line to be completed.  I opted to stay awake.

Art Supplies in Three Modules

I wish I had scanned the original version of this sketch.  I made two changes to it after it’s first layers of washes.  Last night I applied a wash of yellow over the original wash of the red/orange background of the center module.  The result is the yellow/orange glow of the wall behind the can of paint brushes.  The other change I made this morning after having a fresh look at the sketch.  The border around the center module was a dull red.  The entire sketch looked a bit lifeless.  I added another wash of bright red on the border and the entire sketch popped into life.

I thought of this as a sketch in primary colors.  As I reconsider, I see that the secondary colors of green, orange and purple are significant as transitions of hues, bridging the primary colors with an illusion of depth that would not have been possible if I stayed with only the primary colors of red, blue and yellow.  Also note that the blue border of the top module remains less intense than the red border, setting it back as the module at the greatest distance from the viewer

By adding the second wash of red I lost the translucency of the watercolor, but gained a great deal in the sketch as a whole.

First drawn in black ink with my purple glitter, fine nib, waterman fountain pen followed by washes of watercolor.