Let me explain. Most of us grow up with certain stereotypes built into our way of thinking and seeing our world. For example, the grass is green, the sky is blue, trees are green, tree trunks are brown, and water is blue. With these built in rules, as beginners we struggle to mix a green color for the grass and a blue color for the sky. We then tend to apply the same green to cover the whole grass area, and used the same blue to paint in the whole sky! This type of color application works well for house painting and wall papering, but not for the type of fine art painting that we are trying to master.
Let me illustrate with one of my own paintings that I did early in my painting career.
1. The study of 750 of Monet's paintings, which I will discuss below.
2. Learning the painting technique for painting skin tones that Scott Nickerson taught me in his portrait class. This is a method for applying broken colors of paint into a surface covered with clear medium. It gives the skin a transparent and vibrant appearance, as depicted in my painting below.
3. The color pool painting technique that I describe in the Painting Methodology Section is a perfect process to obtain the harmonious color variations that are required. My method is based on using a Triad of colors as the starting point for constructing my color pool. I will describe this in more detail below and eventually in the My Painting Methodology section of the website.
Monet's Gift to Us
Monet's gift to me is the realization is that there is no flat area of color. This became apparent to me as I studied 750 of his paintings. I have picked out three to illustrate to the point.
First, consider his snow scene pictured below. It is white snow under a gray sky. But notice there is no area of either a uniform white for the snow or gray for the sky.
The sky is a vibrant mottling of blues, grays and purples of different values and tones. The snow on the ground is also a beautiful patterning of whites, grays and violets. Note also that the walls and buildings are a darker value of the same colors found in the sky and ground. A beautiful color harmony is achieved.
Two other example can be seen in my Rumson Sea Bright Bridge painting shown below.
Similarly, the detail of the sky area shows the interesting variation in the sky obtained from the blue, magenta, and yellow triad of colors along with white. Again, these variations are so much more realistic and interesting than a flat blue painted sky!
First let me review what i mean by a color pool, as introduced in the My Painting Methodology Section of the website. A color pool can be defined as a color gamut, or area, on the color wheel as depicted below.
In the chart shown above, the seven colors of my Modern Color Pallet are shown at their respective location on the color wheel.
I have connected the outer colors with straight lines to define my color pool or gamut. Any color that falls within this space on the color wheel can be mixed using the colors of my Modern Color Pallet. The fact that these tend to be bright high chroma colors is very useful, since it enables you to mix a wide variety of colors. Bright colors such as these can always mix duller colors such as earth tones, but dull colors can never mix to form the brighter colors.
Remember, when we mix any two colors, the resulting color will fall somewhere on the straight line that connects these two colors in color space.
Color Tiads are the Secret to Achieving Success
The use of color pools is discussed in the Color Mixing section of the My Painting Methodology section of my website. A color triad is a specific type of color pool as pictured and described below.
I will add to this post in the future many examples of the type of color mixing that can be achieved with color triads. But for now, let me emphasize that the types of related color patches observed in the above paintings can be achieved simply by slightly changing the ratios of the three colors used to define the color point within the triad color pool. This is very simple to do and I will be providing a number of examples in the future.
This simple principle of avoiding flat planes of color by slightly varying the proportions of the the colors in the color pool has been the single most significant benefit to me for improving my paintings and my appreciation of the art of the masters! I hope you will find it beneficial also!
Manky Mallard Example
My painting "Manky Mallard" is example of a painting using a three color triad.
The pallet that was used to paint this painting is shown below.
The following painting, "Hello" is another example that used a different color Triad.
Again, the minor variations that you seen, for example in the fur of the sheep, are easily achieved by slight variations in the mixture within the color triad.
Using a color triad guarantees that you will achieve color harmony in your painting, since since all of the colors are created from the same three base colors. Choosing a color triad is based on where you see the image you are to represent in color space. Consider the two previous examples.
The duck on the pond was a scene of cooler colors. Hence, the color triad used includes the cooler yellow and red, and excludes the warmer upper right hand portion of the color space. See the chart of the v/y-v/r-g/b Triad above.
On the other hand the sheep painting was depicting the warm evening sunshine. Therefore the Triand used, o/y-o/r-v/b, includes the warmer part of the color space as you can see in the chart above. The violet/blue color was included in the triad in that it mirrors the warm blue of the late afternoon sky.
Just in case your are tempted to say that the two previous paintings are quite simple and of course you only need three colors to paint them I am including the following.
This is my recreation of Greome's Bashi Bazuk, done in Scott Nickerson's Master Class at Colorest in Red Bank, New Jersey.
My painting "Swan Lake" involved an interesting triad of colors , which I will describe in a future update.