Thursday, February 11, 2010
So last week, I showed a limited palette self portrait done in Ultramarine Blue, Transparent Oxide Red, and White. We add a yellow to the mix, and now we have a primaries palette.
The yellow I added was yellow ochre, a decidedly low chroma color. But really, there's nothing high chroma about skin tones, is there. Sure, you can choose to paint high key or high chroma, but if that's not your aim, a very limited palette like this will not only do the trick, but is extremely helpful in keeping your colors harmonized. Because you pretty much have to mix all the tube colors in every mix, harmony is almost guaranteed. Isn't that nifty?
A set up like this helps you stay in control. and if you are careful to juxtapose close but varied notes, you really can get a lot of richness out of it. If you're having trouble with keeping color harmonies in check, this is a good place to be. You can always add brighter colors into the mix, perhaps a little bit at a time, and go as bright and saturated as you want. But having a place to return to is a good feeling. It's like a safe house. haha~
Here's another sketch, same palette. Plus I used a tiny bit of cad red in just one note on the ear. I don't know what that dark note is doing there next to my red note. Huh. *shrug* Anyway, you can see that different types of skintones can be mixed from the same four tubes of color, and only one of them (blue) is saturated, at that.
Now this one is painted with another set of primaries. Still using only three colors plus white, but they are; Permanent Red, Yellow Ochre, and Ivory Black. It's the famous Zorn palette basically, although I think Mr. Zorn used Vermilion for his red.
Where as the previous limited palette had Blue as the one saturated tube color, this one has a Red bias. The Yellow Ochre is a lower chroma yellow, and the black is nearly a no-chroma blue. Theoretically, it is a contextual blue because if you think of the black (and all the grays that can be mixed with black and white) as being in the center of the color circle because it has no discernable hue, it becomes blue only when the yellow and the red are introduced. Otherwise it's just grey, neither warm nor cool. In reality, Ivory Black mixed with titanium white already looks a little blue. Still, compared to the red and yellow, it's extremely de-saturated.
So what this is, is a primary palette that's very well suited to painting warm reds and oranges - skin tones. Again, it's very difficult to get out of control in terms of color harmony. Black might prove to be a little tricky at first, but as long as you treat it like a blue, it should cooperate with you happily.
You've had instructors say don't use black? That it's evil and will kill your colors? I say, good enough for Sargent and Zorn, good enough for me. Or as Ken Auster says, if it's so bad, why do they make it?
Posted by Terry Miura at 3:00 PM