Thursday, November 20, 2014
Here's a color experiment that I tried a couple of days ago.
I set up for an outdoor gouache painting in Laguna Beach, California. I limited the colors to intense versions of cyan, yellow, and magenta, plus white.
I picked the most highly saturated or high-chroma versions of them that I had: Holbein Prussian blue [PB 27] (I could have used phthalo blue if I had brought it), Winsor and Newton lemon yellow (I could also have used Cadmium Yellow Light), and Holbein Carmine red (Naphthol), plus Caran d'Ache white.
Using these ingredients, I tried to paint a grayed-down painting out of them. I didn't want to allow any bright colors in the final image.
What a fun and strange feeling that was, like trying to drive a racing car in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Just touch the accelerator and it wants to blast off. Each of those colors has so much firepower, but I had to put on the brakes at every stage, restraining each color by using the other two as a complement.
No matter how hard I tried to achieve quiet, neutral colors, one of those strong colors wanted to dominate.
This challenge is the reverse of starting with a limited palette of pigments and trying to stretch those colors to be as pure as possible, such as in the painting above, which used a limited palette of weak colors: raw sienna, Venetian red, cobalt blue, and titanium white.
For more about limited palette experiments, see previous post on Limited Palettes.