Mixing Color Like a Master
Do you know how frustrating it is to love something, but not necessarily know everything about it? That’s sometimes the way I feel about mixing color.
I have such a visual lust for color — learning new colors, discovering new color combinations, figuring out how various light sources affect hue, and how colors look drastically different side by side — but I have so many holes in my body of knowledge.
One way I’ve learned a lot about the dramatically different uses of color is by studying plein air painting. Because “light as color” is practically the mantra of plein air artists, discussions with these painters about their plein air art or studying their outdoor painting offerings yields pearls of wisdom about what painters really do that are virtually priceless.
Light Against Dark
In Ebb Tide, Otter Point by Marcia Burtt, I see how powerful counterchange can be, where you place light shapes against dark to create dynamism out of what is a fairly simple composition of water and rocks.
It doesn’t sound too romantic, but when you look at the dark craggy edges of the rocks shot through with rivulets of rich blue water and white spumes of sea foam — it’s pretty incredible.
I looked at this painting for a good 10 minutes alone, just going with the implied movement of the sea.
Marc Dalessio’s Canal in Maastricht has much more of a tonal effect. The mood of the painting is fairly quiet and a bit somber. But, the charm comes from that same quietude.
The artist keeps the snore factor well away with the smattering of greens and yellows underneath the bridge and the highlight of the rippling water in the foreground.
If you are hungry to learn more about the colors you love and how to use them, be sure to check out Oil Painting with the Masters. As we learn more about how wide and varied color creation can be (in whatever media we work with), our paintings will take on an elegance and clarity of color and light that will be present no matter what subject matter we decide to paint. At least that’s my own dearest hope for you! Enjoy!