20 Oct

Black, White and Brown

Nope, this isn't a philosophical discussion about race, but a brief explanation of why I never use those colors in my paintings. Mostly because they aren't really colors.

Black is the absence of color or light. This is the opposite of what I hope to convey in my art, where I want to show energy through color and movement. White can be chalky or pasty, dulling the painting. Brown is complementary colors mixed together, or sometimes just a mish-mash of colors that accidentally made mud. This is another result I try to avoid by carefully applying complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) next to each other to create vibrancy. Your eye does that, which is a function of how light waves work, but I'll spare you the physics lesson.

Another technique is to layer colors in a certain way (called scumbling) by using a gentle touch so the underneath color shows through. That creates vibrations for your eye – more physics – and a perception of energy. It requires not only careful technique, but textured pastel paper to catch the tiny crystals of pigment that comprise my pastel sticks, and refract light off them. This is why you can see multiple layers if you look closely at my paintings, and why I don't usually blend colors.  I also prefer to work on darker paper, to make the colors really bounce.

So how do I get light and dark areas in my paintings, like in this image of Buenos Aires? I use my darkest blues, reds, purples and greens to show dark areas. Conversely, the light areas are my palest yellows, pinks, aquas, peaches and lavenders. Using real colors, rather than black, white or brown, gives my paintings greater vibrancy and energy. Since I want to show how it felt to be there, creating and sharing that energy is very important to me.

One Comments

  1. I love that your colors zing off the page. 

    In acrylic painting I use a similar philosophy. I use very little black and usually make my own browns as you do with complimentary colors. I do need to use white though. 


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