Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Color Games Part III

Just because you use a specific limited palette, it doesn't mean your paintings will have similar looks. Especially if you have all three primaries represented, we can mix all kinds of in-between colors and values and as a result, two studies painted in the same three colors +white, can look very different from one another.

Both studies I'm posting today were done with a limited primaries palette of Transparent Earth Red / Yellow Ochre / Payne's Gray / Titanium White.

In the example above, the colors are very pale and except for the leotard, the values are pretty light.

Easy to make a good starting point for a skin tone (the lit side) with TOR and Yellow Ochre and White.

For the shadow side of the flesh, It's the same mix, with less white, and teeny bit of the blue. (Payne's Gray) to cool it down and desaturate. There isn't anything else on the palette, so it is what it is.

Payne's Gray and White make a nice blue-gray, which is my starter puddle for the shadow colors in this painting. Here and there, I tried to vary it by adding a little Yellow Ochre, or the TOR, or white, in varying amounts. 

Losing edges entirely in the shadows made an interesting–and still identifiable–shape. I even lost edges in some light areas. You can see that it doesn't affect the recognizability of the visual elements. 

If two shapes can be combined by losing the edge in between, they become one shape. One shape is simpler than two shapes. If the recognizability is maintained, simpler is better. It's like using one well chosen word to describe something, rather than two. 

The second example uses the same exact set of colors, but it looks very different from the first.

Over-all it's much lower keyed - the lights and shadows are both darker in value.

The greenish tone is achieved by mixing blue and yellow (of course!), that is to say, Payne's Gray and Yellow Ochre. There's probably a little white in there too, to lighten the value a bit.

Unlike in the first painting, where I pushed the flesh-tone-in-the-shadow toward violet by adding enough Payne's gray and white into the mix, in this painting, the shadow side of the flesh is still very much in the Orange hue range. That is to say, it's just a darker brown. I used the same Payne's Gray to neutralize the same mix of TOR / Yellow Ochre / White, but not enough to alter the hue of the mix.

You can see a lot of variations in the shadow side, and again, they're just varying amounts of the same limited set of colors.

It's amazing how much range you can get out of just four tubes of paint, and none of them very intense, either.

Do you have a favorite limited palette? Do you find it limiting or liberating? Do your paintings start looking similar? or can you get a good range out of it?

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