Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Color Sketch

Summertime Stories

Here’s an 8x10 color sketch that I recently finished up. Artist’s frequently find it helpful to paint small, practice versions of their subject before working on larger compositions. Color sketches give you a chance to experiment with color combinations and value patterns. They free you up to take more risks and make it easy to step back and objectively decide what’s working and what isn’t.

The main challenge for this piece is that it falls into a warm light/cool shadow color scheme because of the sunny, outdoor lighting. The reason why this lighting is challenging is because it works against the limitations of the pigments available to artists. White is the coolest color on the palette, and white is what we use to lighten yellow paint to resemble sunlight falling on objects. If we use too much white in the yellow, the light will appear too cool for the rest of the color scheme. The way around this difficulty is to establish a mix of white and yellow that is light enough to pass for sunlight, but still feels warm. The light that you are seeing in real life is probably lighter than what you are painting; so, you transpose the rest of the colors and values darker to compensate for the light, warm yellow not being as light as what you see. This creates a believable impression of the lighting you are looking at, and that is how artists get around the limitations of their pigments in painting warm light/cool shadow. Next time you see a painting of the sunny outdoors, look to see if you can spot what I’m talking about.

I think on the whole that this color sketch turned out successfully, and I’m really looking forward to fleshing out this concept further in a larger size painting.