Learning to see colors as values is not easy. In fact, I believe it is a trained skill. It is also something many of us, myself included, resist doing because it takes time and concentration. However, the use of values is one of the most important elements in creating effective paintings. Some artists will state, and you have probably heard this, that values are more important than color.
Are some colors more controversial than others? What do I mean by controversial colors?
I am referring to the colors that cause different, if not opposing, emotional and intellectual responses. Controversial colors evoke both positive and negative reactions either separately or simultaneously.
Which color is the one that comes to mind first when considering its positive and negative impact on viewers?
Most likely the first controversial color to come up is the color red.
Psychologically, red can symbolize love, sensuality, passion, energy and romance, whereas it can also convey hate, war, danger and fear. For some of us, it is a color of agitation and for others is is more calming and not scary at all. The shape of the color can also have an impact. Hence, a color cannot be isolated when analyzing your perception of it, but needs to be considered within a context. Our life experiences also add to our different perceptions of color.
Fore example, in my painting Crimson Fusion, some viewers would perceive the red as drips of blood, whereas others, like myself, see it as energy breaking through to the next level — as if it is being set free. (I think I need to change the title of this painting, don’t you?)
The interpretations of this painting have been quite varied and I believe it is because of my use of red. Feel free to look within my portfolio of paintings to see my diverse colors schemes and explore your reactions to them based on the colors used.
The other color I believe is highly controversial is yellow. This may surprise some of you. Yellow is often considered the color of happiness, fun, warmth, the sun and child-like activities. Yet, it is also the color of caution — think of road signs — as well as illness. We love seeing yellow out in nature, but it is the least liked color within our homes and fashion. It can be a jarring color and is not considered calming. (I am referring to the more saturated yellows.) I have been told be gallery owners, that paintings with a lot of yellow in them do not sell as well as paintings with a small amount of yellow or no yellow at all.
What are your thoughts and reactions to the color yellow? What other color do you think is controversial? Orange perhaps? What are the possible positive and negative reactions to orange?
On the flip side of this discussion, which colors are the least controversial? I my opinion these would be blue, green and most purples. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please write them in the comment box below.
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Colorfully and gratefully yours,
It’s the holiday season and that means it’s ugly sweater season! Have you ever wondered why these sweaters are called ugly? Before you answer this question, do you own one. If so, do you wear it?
For fun, what do you think are the possible reasons why we affectionately refer to these pull-overs as ugly sweaters? Is it the designs or the color or both?
Did you know you can buy ornaments that feature ugly sweaters? Fun, eh? I found this one on Zazzle. I bet there’s a Facebook group that features them. I know people like to have ugly sweater parties, but I have never been invited to one. 🙁 Have you? [Read more…]
Do you remember that first yellow flower you tried to paint? Perhaps it was a sunflower or a rose or a day lily. Most likely it was difficult to do and you found yourself scratching your head trying to figure out how to paint a lovely yellow flower.
I certainly did. My first attempt was not successful and I was baffled. I didn’t know how to create the shadow sides of the petals to create dimension and depth in the flower without creating a muddy mess.
After continuing to learn more about painting and values, I discovered that yellow can NOT become a dark color. In other words, it doesn’t maintain its hue integrity much beyond a value 3 (using a value scale of 0 – 10, with 0 being white and 10 being black). The commercial value scale above is more elaborate using 0 – 13 steps, yet it demonstrates what I am referring to.
Take a moment and compare yellow with the other major hues. Notice how quickly its yummy hue starts turning brown. Also notice the orange is next in having a short value range.
Being the Chart Queen that I am, I would like you to encourage you to create a color value scale. It’s an excellent exercise in learning about how to paint evenly stepped values as well as a way to more fully understand what your hues do as they become darker or lighter. I recommend you create yours using a 5 or 7-step value scale.
In this example, I painted chips of color, cut them out and created my chart. I have painted these value scales in watercolor, acrylic and oil as well.
Back to the original question about yellow.
How Do You Make Yellow Dark?
Given the information above, the answer is that you can’t. However, you can convey the essence of a darker yellow. There are three choices: mixing an orange, a brown or a green. In my painting “Glorious Day,” I used greens and oranges. Since orange is a warmer color than green, I chose to use various oranges in the front three petals and green for the darker areas in the back three petals. Warmer colors come forward on a two-dimensional surface.
And in “Aspen Dance,” I mixed various greens for the aspen leaves that are in shadow. To learn more about how the paint sunshine with yellow, visit my recent blog post, How to Paint Sunshine.
Your decision to use orange, brown or green to ‘darken’ your yellows, is dependent on your subject matter and the message you want to convey with your work. My examples show you what I did with flowers and tree leaves, whereas for a yellow house/structure you may choose various rich browns.
Experiment and let me know in the comment box below. I hope this tip has been helpful.
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The sun is beaming and you see a tree all lit up. Question: “How to paint sunshine?”
Most painters are drawn to the light, whether it is created by Mother Nature or interior light. It’s ethereal and a challenge to capture in paint. The problem we have to solve is trying to create this sensation while using human-made products. And, in essence, we are trying to paint air with solid materials.
Recently, I spent a week in the Colorado Rockies basking in the sun and in awe of its magic while gazing upon the changing aspen leaves. It’s truly glorious to hike, sit or stand while marveling the yellow light created when the sun bounces off of those golden aspen leaves. It’s captivating especially when there is a light breeze. Notice in the white on the leaves in the photo on the right.
During this same week, I happened upon a week long plein air event that included over 30 artists painting in the area. This culminated in a show at the Steamboat Museum of Art in Steamboat Springs, CO. This was my first time attending such an event and it was exciting and fascinating to peruse over 100 paintings.
Much to my dismay, I was surprised to see that few paintings adequately, in my humble opinion, and effectively displayed how to paint sunshine.