Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Welcome to the Candybox

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Yum yum!

No, I wasn't just hungy today, I want to talk about color in painting/drawing. This is something I've been thinking about doing ever since I started posting my artwork, because it's been vitally important to me in learning color theory. Then Sven asked about my painting methods under my last post, so I decided it was time.

I struggled quite a bit with color - still do, but at least now I have an effective way to approach it. Several ways actually, but this is one of my favorites. I call it the Candybox. See, the idea is to have a box or palete loaded with lots of colors right in front of you, so it becomes easy to see exactly what color you want to use next. I used to just load up a palette the standard way... a few blobs of color covering the primaries and secondaries, and then leave enough room to mix variations on them. But somehow i always ended up with dull paintings using pretty much the same very limited selection of color. Until I got a half-pan set of watercolors that is, originally with the idea of going out and painting on lacation like an impressionist (yeah right... like I was really gonna do that!). But what happened instead is that, once I had this huge box of colors open in front of me, it became easy to make quick intuitive choices and end up with a rich balanced painting.
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So I started getting other "candyboxes" to extend my capabilities, like a few sets of pastels and oil pastels, and then one of my personal favoites, a huge set of Aquarelle watercolor pencils. I think I've actually got my best results in oil pastels and aquarelles. Especially once I learned that you can blend oil pastels with Turpenoid to make nice washes. Soon I'll upload a few of the pieces I've done like this.
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Of course this becomes easy if you work in Photoshop or another computer painting program. You have endless palettes to choose from, and you don't have to deal with the physical and chemical properties of various paints and media... or paper buckling or getting overloaded and clogged, or brushes losing their point, etc. It's a greay way to play around with color without investing too much time or energy into it and you can easily change your mind and re-do anything, plus you can save multiple versions of a piece as you work on it. I consider it essential to anyone wanting to learn color theory or try out painting techniques... sort of like the framegrabber to a stomotionist - it does away with the hassles and difficulties of the non-digital environment, and allows you to develop the skills in a pure way, which you can then apply to your more real-world endeavors.

Finally, I'd like to recommend to anyone trying to learn painting to get ahold of a Liquitex color chart. It's a lot more than just a bunch of swatches of color... it's an incredibly valuable tool. Each swatch shows the pure color plus a tint (white added) and a shade (black added) PLUS.... (probably its most important quality) you can cross-reference the colors. In other words, if you want to mix a color that's on the chart but that you don't own, just look straight up and straight across to the side until you run into colors you do have. Mix those two colors together and voila! This is where I started to learn about color mixing.

Ok, enough painting 101 for today, get back to your lives!


herself said...

This is total art supply porn. Who could resist such color!

sven said...

Wow! Excellently said, Mr. Dark! Gretchin's going to have to read this post -- I think there's an underlying principle here that would be really pertinent in her creativity classes. :-D

And a synchronicity: For Monster Month I finally got around to replacing my decrepit 48 color prismacolor set. Upgraded to the 120 color set. I've totally been having that experience you describe... Rather than fighting with color, I just reach out and pick up the one that's in my head. Very liberating!

Darkstrider said...

Yeah baby!! Have some candy... there's plenty for everybody!

I used Prismacolors a while back... pretty cool, I did a few really decent things with them, but so hard to blend! That's why I moved to the aquarelles and the oil pastels.

Ubatuber said...

This post kicks ass! Color overload, made me smile all silly....man you've got me wanting to get back to more 2-D work....I've been wanting to try experimenting in Photoshop too, coloring some of my charcoals and sketches....

Darkstrider said...

If you want to color in PS you ought to get a couple of books about it, or at least look upsome online tuts. There are tricks and techniques that make it easy. I'll see if I can dig up links for some of the ones that helped me.

And posing all this artwork from the last few years has got me seeing things I didn't notice before and feeling ready to move on to the next level in my artistic evolution.

gl. said...

candyboxes! i'm a big believer in abundance and how it can contribute to your creativity.

Darkstrider said...

...And the nice thing about an artistic candybox.... you can partake all you want, and no cavities!