Monday, October 14, 2013

Change your palette and change your paintings

Art School Student
18 x 14

"Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment." Monet.
I've never met an artist who is content with the state of his or her work.  Like me, they're always tinkering, tweaking and trying new things in an effort to realize their vision for what their art should look like.  

Over the past couple of months, colour has been my focus.  I dropped ultramarine blue from my palette for a while feeling that it had control of me, not the other way around.  It's back on the palette now but in its absence I learned an appreciation for cerulean, a blue of lighter value that leans more towards yellow whereas ultramarine leans red. Cerulean is a natural for pairing with yellow ochre but is overwhelmed and made garish with the cad. yellows, so the loss of ultramarine ultimately led to yellow ochre becoming much more important in my work; proving once again that nothing happens in a vacuum and everything sets off a chain of events - many of which can't be predicted in advance. 

I also introduced cobalt blue, a "true blue" which doesn't have an obvious leaning one way or another and which is much tamer than ultramarine, at least in my hands.  

So the upshot of all of this is a better understanding of the greys which yellow ochre excels at, and a cooler overall look to my paintings.  It wasn't my intention, but that was the result.  

In the painting above, I explored blue overtly, using it as a starting colour for the block in and a foil for the muted warm colours in the flesh.  Most every warm colour is a much-greyed tertiary, but they pop vibrantly in their context of cool blue. 

I'm learning a lot through my tinkering so I'll continue to explore the colours on my palette and see what comes of it.  

Happy painting!


Bobbi Dunlop said...

Very interesting post, Ingrid! Love the spontaneity of both commissioned portraits. Looking forward to seeing how you tackle the next ones!

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks, Bobbi!
This one isn't a commission; it's a painting of the lovely, art school student that I had over last week. It was a real treat!

Roxanne Steed said...

So true! (and well stated). After feeling quite smug with colors I had been using for years, this year I had made big efforts in trying several new things with color...and like they say, once you open Pandora's box, you can't shove it all back in there. You've gained new knowledge and now you have to figure out HOW you want to use it. But as artists, that gives us a reason to keep waking up every day- to keep trying new things (even if it is just pushing the boundaries of our OWN envelope! Love the painting, btw!

Ingrid Christensen said...

Pandora's box is right, Roxanne. You know you shouldn't open it, but you do anyway and there goes the next 6 months as you deal with what came out. And still it's so much fun that you go and do it again down the road sometime. Artists seem to throw obstacles in their own paths in order to see how they manage to cope with them.
What a life!