In the June issue of Pastel Journal (on sale here), master pastelist Albert Handell shares his approach to painting adobe buildings, one of the essential elements of the Southwestern landscape. Vital to his technique is the use of lively, but harmonic color. To do this , he stresses the importance of using colors that are different but similar in value. Here’s how he explains the idea:
Muddy color can happen when colors of different values are mixed together or applied side by side. To avoid this, but still add color vibrancy to a painting, I use different colors of similar value. If you have two colors of similar value side by side, you’ll see no edge, or only a “sleepy” edge, where the colors meet. Therefore, I mentally organize my colors by value (by different colors that are similar in value). With this in mind, my colors can be modified and extended easily. I avoid “muddy colors” and instead achieve beautiful colors.
The best way to see whether two different colors are similar in value is to make side-by-side swatches for comparison. See examples of this in the image here. It shows two different colors (see the upper right) Unison’s Green #26 and Bluish-Purple BV-4. Although very different colors, you can that they are similar value, because where they touch, there is either no edge between them (they swim together), or there’s is merely a very ‘sleepy’ edge. Thusly, the values of both colors are the same. If both of these colors were photographed in black-and-white film, they’d both be the same gray on a scale of grays from white to black.
See Handell’s step-by-step demonstration of an adobe painting in the June 2016 issue of Pastel Journal.
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