For our next class, please finish the first, upper lefthand panel of Project 2 by carefully observing color in your still life and refining your existing underpainting accordingly. You are looking to match subtle shifts in value, hue and chroma using your earth primary palette.
We have broken out the prismatic primaries for other purposes, but DO NOT give into the temptation to use them for the earth primary painting.
The only colors you should use for this first panel are Mars Black, Indian Red Oxide, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White. It is part of the challenge of this assignment to reproduce colors closely even when you have limited options. If you can learn to do that, you will be able to mix anything!
Below is an image of my original block in and one of my refined painting (as it currently stands) for the earth primary panel.
Some Things to Consider as you Refine
- NO PHOTOS, PLEASE
If you took a photograph of your still life, it should only be used to help you set everything up in the same place within your shadow box. Although it may seem easier to paint from a photograph because it’s already translated into two dimensions, please paint directly from your still life set up. This is crucial, because Project 2 is all about matching colors, and you will be unable to see subtleties in a photograph. We discussed eye versus camera in class, so I won’t reiterate here, but basically…,
- SHAPELY IS IN!
DO refine shapes as you go. If you examine my block in compared to my refined painting, the forms of the pears evolved from sketchy and general to more representative. Of course, you have a drawing in place to guide you, but it is charcoal on paper not incised lines on stone. Therefore you can—and should—make changes where appropriate.
- PICK YOUR PAINT-BASED BATTLES
You do not have to paint over your entire underpainting. There will most likely be areas that are the correct value, hue and chroma. Let those bad boys shine through! Why waste time and paint if it’s already right?
- BUILD A RANGE OF COLOR
Within each of your blocked in areas (namely all of the individual light side or shadow side shapes) build a range of values, hues and chromas. The following steps use the light side of the pear in my demo painting as an example, but the process is applicable to any of your blocked in sections.
- RENDER APPROPRIATE VALUES
Paint an appropriate range of values within each of your blocked in sections. Remember that value is how light or dark a color is. Painting values adds interest and can create a sense of light falling on a three dimensional object. We have already blocked in the overall value scheme, but within each blocked in area, there will be a more subtle range. Lighter values in this range can be created by adding white, while darker values can be created by adding the complementary color. Be aware that it is difficult to change the value of a color without also affecting hue and chroma, and it can sometimes be hard to tell whether what you see is a change in value or hue or chroma or a combination thereof. Careful observation of both your still life and your painting is therefore crucial. Use your value scale to determine subtle shifts, and don’t forget to squint to better see dark and light independent of hue and chroma. It can also help to think about your object as a series of simple geometric shapes, and imagine how light would fall on those shapes. My pear, for example is essentially stacked spheres.
**PRO TIP** The lightest part of your shadow side is darker than the darkest part of your light side.
- OBSERVE SHIFTS IN HUES
Even though each blocked in area—light or shadow—has a dominant hue, there will be subtle shifts depending on how light hits the object and what other objects/colors are nearby. We will discuss this in more detail next week, but for now carefully observe your still life with the awareness that a particular blocked in area will probably have some hues that are slightly to one side or another of your main hue on the color wheel. For example, in the light section of my pear, the main hue is yellow, but there are areas where that yellow seems more greenish or, alternatively, more orange. As noted with value, shifts in hues rarely exist in a vacuum, and they are often accompanied by changes in chroma and/or value.
- APPLY CHANGES IN CHROMA
Finally, there will be shifts of chroma within each blocked in area. Chroma is how intense or pure a color is. Overall, the chroma on the light side of your object will be more saturated than the chroma of the shadow side. This makes sense, right? Light is what allows us to see, so we will perceive more intense color where it’s strongest. Remember for paint that the most chroma comes right out of the tube. To reduce this chroma, there are several options (see last Tuesday’s PowerPoint), but for this project, you will add the complementary color. For now, avoid using shades (the addition of black except when used as an earth blue) or tones (the addition of gray). You want to get used to using complementary colors.
**PRO TIP** The very strongest chroma is typically found at the turning point between light and dark. In my pear, for example, the most intense yellow is right above the line where the shadow begins. More on why next class.
- USE COMPLEMENTS TO MASTER THE DARK SIDE
As we discussed when we began blocking in, adding a complementary color to the base color of your object is an excellent way to get the overall shadow color of an object. Thus, if your object is blue, you will have a shadow that contains blue plus its complement orange. Adding the complement typically has the dual effect of reducing chroma and darkening value. Of course, your shadows will not be JUST complements. As with the light side, there will be shifts in hue, value and chroma throughout the shadow sections of your objects. Get the value right first and then adjust hue and chroma as necessary.
- CHECK YOUR EDGES
Remember that hard edges flatten an image and make it more graphic. If you have a three-dimensional object that you want to appear to turn back in space, soften your edges using blending (feathering together wet object color and wet background color) drybrush (using a brush wiped nearly dry of paint to add a broken stroke to the paper’s surface) or wash (using a wet brush with a watercolor-strength color along the edge).
- STEP BACK AND OBSERVE
Turn your painting upside down, look at it in a mirror or view it through a lens to help yourself see what still needs work.
- ASK QUESTIONS IF YOU HAVE THEM
I’m here for you.