Reading James Gurney’s Color and Light has given me a lot to think about in terms of my palette. Most of my choices in the past have been gut reactions to the given assignment. To a certain extent, that’s still the way I approach it. Still, I’m trying to use a more academic approach.
One example is that I have started to use color wheels. For the past few assignments, if I try a new palette, I record it. The upper left is the “Zorn Palette”- black, cadmium red medium and yellow ochre. I became fascinated with this combination and using it, I painted “The Victor,” or “the painting with the girl pirate,” whichever you prefer.
Obviously, that had limitations, especially in the blue spectrum. For a recent Magic card I needed more intense colors. The upper right wheel was what I settled on. Ultramarine Blue was the main color, and that was complemented by Ultramarine Pink and Naples Yellow, two colors that would not dull the blue or pull the painting out of the blue family. In addition, I believe I used ivory black to darken the ultramarine blue and Indian yellow to provide a transparent substitute for the Naples Yellow. (I used both yellows in very, very small amounts; in fact, I may have discarded Naples altogether).
The most recent color wheel represents my most recent pieces. The bottom left has great potential:
Ultramarine Blue Deep
Transparent Red Oxide
with the addition or subtraction of
By using UBD, TRO and YO as the base wheel, I can achieve a dark color similar to black by mixing UBD and TRO and a warm light by mixing TRO and YO. The addition of the high and low chroma reds and yellows can round out the piece where needed, but I don’t think I would ever use all of them on the same piece.
This is still a work in process, but I think I am on the right track. I think my next Magic card involves some green, so I will have to experiment with new color wheels. Maybe I’ll add Viridian to the mix? Or perhaps I’ll try different Blue-Yellow mixes?
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