Useful Art Information

If you want to know how to paint better or at least paint better informed.

Hue / Color:  Red, Yellow, Blue, etc. On a color wheel, which is a necessity for an artist, you will see contrasting colors (those colors that are opposite each other and analogous colors which are next to each other on the wheel. Primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. In between those, on the wheel, are secondary colors, orange, green, violet.  Red is opposite to green, orange is opposite blue, yellow is opposite violet. The shade of red and the shade of green makes a difference. For example, reddish- purple is opposite to greenish- yellow. Why do you need to know this? Placing red next to green will make the colors vibrate. That creates excitement.  Analogous colors are soothing, such blue next to green. What effect do you want your painting to have on the viewer?  This concept is used by the impressionists especially the pointillists.

Another concept is using color in shading. Using the contrasting color to shade another without using black. Black kills a painting. (I never use black in painting except for inorganic subjects as metal and glass.) A good organic ‘black’ is ultramarine or cobalt blue and raw or burnt umber. So to create a shading on a red apple I would use its corresponding green.

Value/Intensity:  You need to have or make a value chart. A common value chart goes from white (1) to black (10).  Having a chart handy when you paint will help get the values properly. You can paint an entire picture in shades of gray, like an old photo and still have it completely understood.  I have a teacher at college tell me that color was beguiling.  Adding another color to a color may change the value. If you add green to red it dulls the value. Contrasting colors mixed together will make brown. If you add several colors together you could end up with mud. Bottom line watch the values when you paint. A useful item for this is a red gel sheet. When you look at your painting thru it, it ‘removes’ the color and you will see the values.

Chroma/purity     Saturation of color. For example, in watercolor if you add a lot of water to the paint color it makes it ‘weaker’. I don’t think this applies to pastel but you need to understand it anyway.

You will notice the light is coming from one direction. About one o’clock. So the shadiest/darkest part of the object is about seven o’clock. It casts a shadow which does not change in a single painting. So, this is why you need to take a photo if you are painting outside because the sun moves and your shadow moves with it. In a painting, you must be consistent. If you go to a local art show, be aware of the shadows in an artist’s painting! See, right away you are an art critic.

Chroma/purity     Saturation of color. For example, in watercolor if you add a lot of water to the paint color it makes it ‘weaker’. I don’t think this applies to pastel but you need to understand it anyway.

You will notice the light is coming from one direction. About one o’clock. So the shadiest/darkest part of the object is about seven o’clock. It casts a shadow which does not change in a single painting. So, this is why you need to take a photo if you are painting outside because the sun moves and your shadow moves with it. In a painting, you must be consistent. If you go to a local art show, be aware of the shadows in an artist’s painting! See, right away you are an art critic.

The first stack has reds and warm yellows. The winter one has cool yellows and blues. It is overcast so the shadows are negligible.

Warm colors are the orangey reds, yellows on the orange side, turquoise blues, and yellow greens.  Cool colors are purple reds, lemon yellows, ultramarine blue or blues with a hint of purple and purple with a hint of red. Hint, shadows are usually opposite temperature to the subject. The cast shadow of an orange ball would be a cool blue.

This seems like a lot to have in mind when you are a beginning painter. Remember when you were learning to drive a car. If it was a standard shift you had even more to contend with. But, soon you managed it all without thinking about it. It is the same with painting Except you manage the painting and work these bits of information to your advantage to achieve the effect you want.

The first stack has reds and warm yellows. The winter one has cool yellows and blues. It is overcast so the shadows are negligible.

Warm colors are the orangey reds, yellows on the orange side, turquoise blues, and yellow greens.  Cool colors are purple reds, lemon yellows, ultramarine blue or blues with a hint of purple and purple with a hint of red. Hint, shadows are usually opposite temperature to the subject. The cast shadow of an orange ball would be a cool blue.

This seems like a lot to have in mind when you are a beginning painter. Remember when you were learning to drive a car. If it was a standard shift you had even more to contend with. But, soon you managed it all without thinking about it. It is the same with painting Except you manage the painting and work these bits of information to your advantage to achieve the effect you want.

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