Six variations are possible given three shapes painted using three colors …  3 times 2 times 1. (An early math lesson I use often to remind myself of the choices possible when putting brush to paper or canvas.

Six Variations …. plus two more by altering color

The six variations using green, yellow and purple are shown above.  If I add red to the variables there are now twenty-four variations ….. 4 times 3 times 2 times 1!

For this exercise I chose yellow, green and purple to illustrate not only color changes but also value changes and the spacial illusions created by each variation.  Yellow is a light value, green is a middle value and the purple is the dark value.  My morning color exercises remind me daily the importance of thinking value first …. then color.

Sketchbook color study in watercolor.

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Morning is a great time to play art games before my brain is awake enough to be judgemental.

Variations to shift visual messages

I arbitrarily divided four rectangles into five separate shapes as shown above (left).  Playing The Color Scheme Game for each of the rectangles I painted the shapes.  For the second set of four rectangles, I copied the shapes and made slight changes in the values and sometimes shifting the hue slightly.  I altered the yellow shape in the upper left rectangle to create the feeling of it floating in space rather appearing to be in the same spacial plane as the blue shape.  I felt that the shapes in the lower right rectangle were too similar in size diminishing a feeling of space and depth.  In the second variation I made sure the shape sizes were varied.

Variations of Value

When you squint at the image on the left, you see that the value of the the three larger shapes are too similar and the shapes merge to become one.  You can imagine this being a landscape.  This may be the illusion you want.  Then again, it may not be what you want.  The choice is always yours.

Sketchbook drawings: drawn first with fountain pen, followed by watercolor

Plants provide limitless possibilities for variations of shapes and textures.

Ivy Vines

Reality inspires the shapes, imagination provides the colors.  What a great team!

For more variety, I allowed the pigments to mix on the paper, wet in wet within the boundaries of each leaf shape.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor.

Color Scheme: Extended Analogous.

Regardless of media or subject, it all boils down to the values of the shapes working well together …. or not.  I can accept less than gorgeous colors in a painting of resolved values and shapes more than I can accept gorgeous colors in a painting that is visually abrasive because of it’s unresolved interplay of shapes.

Black and White Comparisons at various stages

I painted an 18″ x 24″ en plein air watercolor, thrilled with working larger.  It’s difficult to swing my arm, use larger brushes and splatter color here and there when I am working small.  Wanting to stay loose, I began without any drawing to guide me.  It would have been fine if I hadn’t included the wooden structure…. but then it wouldn’t have been a painting of the gateway to our Secret Garden.  The splattering began as a way to camouflage the errors in the structure.  The next problem was the composition of light and dark shapes.  I wanted the light to show through the structure, connecting the sky with the foreground.  I also loved the light shape of the tree against the dark shape of the tree just to the right of the structure.  Unfortunately, those two shapes were too close in size and shape.  One of them had to go, for the sake of the painting.

Final resolution

I am pleased with the results.  This is a great size for me. Next time I’ll try to resolve the value shapes before I start playing with paint.  Then I’ll be free to dive into gorgeous color interactions.  In this painting, the neutralized reds added life to the green masses.

Detail of Secret Garden

Here are a few steps to begin playing the Color Scheme Game.  The game is based on a twelve hue Color Wheel.  Any medium may be used.

A Few Basic Elements of Art

In the middle box of each row I attempted to stick to the guidelines of the dice.  In the third box I either made a second attempt or altered it however I felt inclined.  These are all very quick, no attention to detail and no concern for perfection.  The goal of this game is to explore possibilities, to strengthen the ability to simplify and to call upon the left side of the brain to help make decisions without getting in the way of creativity.

I recommend using paper or sketchbook that works well with watercolor or gouache if you choose to use either medium.  The sketchbook I’m using is terrible!  I will switch to a different one tomorrow.

Use two six-sided dice or one twelve sided die.  Pick an object or group of objects.  I chose our Valentine’s Day Flowers.

Step One: Throw dice.  Divide your square or rectangle into the number of shapes shown on dice.  My first row was six, second row was three, third row was four.  I worked on one row at a time.

Step Two: Throw one die to determine your value range: 10 is lightest, 1 is darkest

1 = Full Value (Values 1 through 10) High Contrast

2 = Full Value (Values 1 through 10) Middle of the road contrast

3 = Full Value (Values 1 through 10) Low Contrast

4 = High Key (Values 4 through 10)

5 = Low Key (Values 1 through 7)

6 = Middle Key (Values 3 through 8)

Step Three: Throw both dice to determine your color scheme (I will be adding to these)

1 = Monochromatic – One Color

2 = Analogous – Three to Five adjacent Colors

3 = Extended Analogous – One primary plus three colors on either side of primary

4 = Complementary – Two colors directly opposite

5 = Double Complementary – Two sets of opposite colors

6 = Cross Complementary Tetra – Two sets of opposite colors at right angles to one another

7 = Analogous with One Complement – Three to Five Adjacent Colors with one of the color’s complement

8 = Primary Triad – Red, Yellow, Blue

9 = Secondary Triad – Orange, Green, Purple

More to come ……

Step Four: Throw dice to determine dominant color

1 = Yellow

2 = Yellow Green

3 = Green

4 = Green Blue

5 = Blue

6 = Blue Purple

7 = Purple

8 = Purple Red

9 = Red

10 = Red Orange

11 = Orange

12 = Orange Yellow

I try to have fun, be playful and to forgive myself for what I feel are disasters.

There are many variations to the game which I will continue to post.