Thursday, September 30, 2010

A painting in near complements

I thought it might be educational for me to make a painting using near complements. I chose one of the color wheel illustrations I used recently. That's it, above. It is yellow green, violet and red.

Here are the pigments I used, permanent red ( I had to add red to the shot above in photoshop as my lights turned it orange) Viridian with a little cadmium yellow in it, and cobalt violet and of course I allowed myself titanium white. This seemed like a crazy little palette, but I pulled out a panel 5" by 7" and went to work. After a couple of hours I had the little sketch below. This was made out of my head with no references, photographic or otherwise. I like to make up landscapes, I think it is good for practice in arranging pictures. Not the best painting I ever made, but it does illustrate the result of this severely limited palette.

What I found was that I couldn't get anywhere near a blue, I had hoped I could make one with the yellow-green and violet but it really didn't work very well. I could control the red well enough by feeding the yellow-green into it. The darks were violet plus the yellow-green as a neutralizer. The whole mixing experience was weird, I don't intend to use that again. Tomorrow I will try another set of near compliments, something with less poisonous looking colors. It was like painting with the colors of a bruise. I think these particular near complements might be good for a decorative scheme, but for painting the landscape they were a hindrance.


willek said...

When I scrolled down to see your 5 x 7, I was flabberghasted. I would not believe the result with those pigments.Just great. These exercises are just perfect for the little cigar box pochade kit. said...

Yup..there are color theories and then there are pigments. What fun and how informative it is to see you working out these pallets. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Your resulting piece is very harmonious and atmospheric even if it wasn't what you wanted. Much appreciated.

R Yvonne Colclasure said...

I think your painting is beautiful! It has a very peaceful quality to it. It is amazing what you were able to accomplish with the chosen palette. These are very informative posts, thank you.

Durinda Cheek, Fine Artist said...

Stape, you are so giving to do a lesson on color theory and then a demo to illustrate it. Made it up, huh? It is lovely. I tried the same palette yesterday with a floral. Can't say I liked the violetish background, but it was an interesting experiment. Thanks for giving us something to think about when it comes to color choices. Enjoyed it!

John D. Wooldridge said...

Ahhh the practical science of painting at it's finest! I may have to try some of these little experiments myself. Thanks so much for sharing it particularly since you found it not as pleasing as you might have liked. I personally like the end result. There are many subtleties to the colors that pique my interest.

Lucy said...

That's a beautiful painting, I do agree that the split compliment idea could be useful for abstraction or design, as you could do less mixing, and use more of the pure colors. I wonder if Wolf kahn uses this? Thinking too of Stuart Davis and John sloan, painters who used color systems in their work and wrote about it.

Your painting will inspire many of us to try it!

billspaintingmn said...

Flabbergasting?! Yes it is! (ha)
willek that's a funny word.

Stape! Isn't that the place where
music and painting meet?
I need to learn some chords.
(How much was seeked, how much was wanked?)

Judy P. said...

Wow, I'm learning a lot by the way you handled these colors- yes, do another complement combination by all means!

Mary Bullock said...

I really like the painting! I think the near complements work well together in the landscape - expecially the lavender sky.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stape, Just catching up after Weekend w/the Masters. I love this painting looks exactly like before dawn in WA, that first look out to see what the weather is going to be. The landscape peacefully waiting for the hubbub of life to take over. The first evening Richard Schmidt gave a still life demo/ peaches and oranges. He said what we as representational artists are doing, and what makes it so difficult, is that we take everyday common visual motifs and create a mood, emotion, reverie for the viewer. The fine line between what we see and what we experience viewing it. (my interpretation,not a quote) What sets your work apart is your ability to stand out in the weather and give us a real experience of your landscape, which becomes our very own. That is the art! Thank you for these unique and informative lessons, Terry

MCG said...

Wow, I think you solved a real problem for me that I’ve had a difficult time getting my mind wrapped around for some years now. Years ago I read in one well known painting teacher’s book that a good harmonious color strategy that also injects energy and vibrancy into a work is to utilize color polarity ie Yellow and violet, red and green etc . BUT, then I read in another well known painting teacher’s book that once you determine the dominant color temperature of the light on the subject that the key to color harmony is to RESTRAIN it’s complement. So for example, objects bathed in a cool bluish light are going to show little orange in them. Anything orange would need to be neutralized with blues/greens/violets. What was always confusing is how this seemed in direct opposition to building tension with polarity. Unless I am missing something, it seems color chords are the answer that links both of those other two ideas together. Thank you for clearing that up. Book learning is HARD.

Gregory Becker said...

Stape, that is a beautiful example of tonalism.
3 Cheers because that little painting is a beauty.

Susan McCullough said...

I really like the color harmony in this painting Stape- I think you are being too hard on yourself. It really is a nice little gem.

Nika said...

It's a great little painting. It's harmonious and the light is very believable. And no, you don't need any blue in there at all. It makes me feel I would save myself a lot of time restricting my palette from the get-go instead of using the entire palette to mix these same colors

Stapleton Kearns said...

Flabberghasted? Thanks.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The exercise was in pigments, so it was a little less theoretical.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

I am of course studying too as I do this.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The audience is invited to play along at home!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I believe Wolf Kahn uses squirming lemurs dipped in mayonnaise and cranberry juice.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Chords are good, but they can be discordant too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I did another tonight. That should do it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks. I will put a call in to Gene Autry.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wish I could have been there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Gee I hope I cleared that up, huh?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hey, thanks.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am hard on myself. That is part of the job, I think.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I was thinking the same thing. I might do more of this in my day job.

Unknown said...

I must say that you do have a special capability to draw you imagination to perfection. This is indeed something that give rise to some good thing and positive attitude in a person. The painting is indeed a good one with some good features of silence, calmness and thoughtfulness in it.

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