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The Importance of Color in Art: Choosing a Color Scheme

Today I am blogging about an introduction to the color wheel and how artists can use it to choose an effective color combination. Since last week, I have been consulting a reference book entitled, Color is Everything, by Dan Bartges. I wanted to try out some various color schemes for my Biographical Portrait of Sting, which I posted about in last week’s Sketchbook blog post.  After consulting the book about possible color schemes, I tried out two versions of a tetrad color scheme; one is described on pg. 35, and consists of oranges, reds, and greens, while the other color combination includes blue-green, red-orange, yellow-orange, and blue-violet and is described on page 36 of Bartge’s book.

Sting, pencil sketch
Line sketch based on the Photoshop collage.
Sting in Landscape, with symbols, with black and white
Photoshop collage I made with various photographs.
Sting's Biographical Portrait #1, flat
Here is version one of my color sketch, using a tetrad color scheme of blue, orange, red and green. This sketch was made with watercolor and pencil.
Sting's Biographical portrait version #2, flat
This is version two of the color sketch tetrad version # 2, with blue-green, red-orange, and yellow-orange. The sketch was made with watercolor and pencil

But before I get into the definition of tetrad color schemes, I would like to give a short overview of the color wheel and how it can improve an artist’s artwork.According to the article, “Color Psychology: The Emotional Effects of Colors”, retrieved from http://www.arttherapy blog.com, the color wheel displays the three primary colors and its secondaries, and the twelve colors which are included on the color wheel are: yellow, yellow-orange, orange, red-orange, red, red- violet, violet, blue-violet, blue, blue-green, green, and yellow-green. The most important colors displayed on the color wheel are red, yellow and blue, from which you can mix almost any color. (ibid) However, this concept should be considered in a theoretical context, because paints do not necessarily contain only one color. (ibid) In fact, paints often contain residues of other colors which can affect the final outcome of color mixtures (ibid).  Some colors that you can mix from the two primaries include yellow + red= orange and red + blue= violet.  These colors are called secondaries.(ibid)  It’s interesting to read that primary colors theoretically mixed together, can create any color you wish, but that in practice, it is not always so easy. I think that this is a concept I have grasped as a seasoned painter but did not have words to explain it. This is why I need to buy specific cool reds such as alizarin crimson, or warm reds, such as carmine to get reddish colors that are either warm or cool in tone. Now I have evidence to support my observation and I can explain to others why I need to buy so many different paint colors to create specific colors!

According to the author, Bartges, (2008), a triadic color scheme utilizes three colors which are equidistant from each other on the color wheel, and these colors create “a strong, triangular relationship.” For example, Bartges, 2008, states that a frequently utilized triadic scheme for landscapes includes green, orange and violet. Furthermore, in the words of  Bartges, 2008,  the “most visually powerful triad is red, yellow and blue, which are called the primary colors”.

I decided to apply this knowledge about triadic colors to my portrait of Sting. While I knew I wanted the colors to be pleasing to the eye, I didn’t want them to take center stage. Instead, I wanted them to complement the symbolic nature of the artwork. In this drawing, I wanted to tell a story about Sting’s ancestry and family stories, which I learned about by watching a PBS tv show entitled, Finding Your Roots, a few weeks ago. In this drawing, Biographical Portrait of Sting, I wanted to tell a story about Sting’s ancestry and family stories with references to his great-grandparent’s trade as lace makers, their migration to France, and to describe the setting of his hometown in Newcastle, England. These items were symbolized by the Canada geese migrating in the background, the lace handkerchief, the fleur de lis symbol, (which is often associated with French royalty, according to Britannica.com), and the ships and dock of the Tyneside docks represent the setting where Sting grew up amongst the shipbuilding trade in the 1950s. If you are interested, you can learn more about Sting’s family story by visiting the following website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/blog/stings-roots-beyond-england/. The PBS website includes an overview of the television series, Roots, Finding your roots,   which features an episode that investigates the family history of Sting, Sally Field, and Deepak Chopra. Thanks for stopping by! I hope to continue work on the color sketches pictured here and post the results on next week’s blog post.

 

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Voices and Visions, Artist Statement

It’s been several weeks since I have blogged, and the reasons are many. Some new responsibilities as my mom’s caregiver, due to her shoulder replacement surgery in October, lots of hours at work, and a new custom order, among other things. Also, I keep trying to think of the perfect topic that will be entertaining to my audience and informative. And yet, when I do that I feel like I am not being my genuine self, and that leads to more inertia. So instead, I decided to share my artist statement for my new poetry illustration series, Voices, and Visions. So here it is.

Desert landscape with pregnant woman and plants
This is an oil painting which depicts the feeling of creative block. It is symbolized by the desert landscape and the pregnant woman, as well as the bean plant growth cycle.
Two figures in a barren landscape with a teddy bear and leaves.
This oil painting is an interpretation of Robert Frost’s poem, The Secret Sits. It is also inspired by a music video by the Cranberries, called Ordinary Day, in which the main character chases her younger self to try and resolve unfinished business.

Voices and Visions

 How does an idea for a painting get born? For me, it’s sometimes a memory being re-played, hearing a song lyric that resonates with me, reading a poem that lends itself to telling a story or visiting an inspiring art exhibit.  This series focuses on the connection between stories described in the written word, such as poetry, song lyrics, and quotes and the visual narratives that illustrate these works. The works may describe a feeling, a memory, a season, or some universal truth described in color, metaphor or symbols. Perhaps this series has been percolating in me for years, since 2005, in fact, when I graduated from McDaniel College with an art degree. My art mentor, Steve Pearson, who is now (Assistant Professor at McDaniel College), sparked an interest in me about how to make artwork that communicated personal truths and ideas.

To facilitate the creative process, he recommended that I keep a sketchbook and collect artwork that inspired me. This process would help me to identify the themes that mattered most to me and to write a content-based artist statement. Lastly, I created a series of work that described these themes through color, symbols, composition, etc.  It’s been several years since then and I have had a lot of experiences since then, read books, listened to music, attended concerts, had different jobs, and pursued different artistic subject media, such as the portrait, and more recently still life and landscape. But I keep coming back to artwork that has a meaning or a story to tell in my artwork, and especially to the portrait which was the first subject that ignited my interest in art. One significant event that sparked this recurrent theme, and they are: 1.) A drawing class that I took at Frederick Community College.

In January of 2015, I took a drawing course at Frederick Community College in Frederick, MD. One of the final assignments I tackled was to illustrate a poem using pastels.  A major challenge in this assignment was to find a poem that had some concrete images to illustrate and not a poem that was too esoteric and abstract. I chose Robert Frost’s poem, Ghost House, which has an abundance of concrete imagery. The first lines, “I dwell in a lonely house I know, that vanished nearly a summer ago and left no trace but the cellar walls…” (Frost) gripped me with a strong visual picture.  I immediately thought of a derelict house and tried to create a narrative about this haunted house.

Slowly different images popped into my head, a derelict house, a ghost bride, a tree, a path, and some crows. To facilitate this process, I collected artwork that inspired on Google image searches and checked out library books on vampires and fantasy creatures. My next step was to create a Photoshop file collage with images based on this poem. I completed the artwork by creating a drawing based off of the collage and finished with soft pastels. To create this current body of work, I have followed this same process of creating a notebook of images that inspired, and piecing them together in PhotoShop to create my own unique compositions. I also did searches on Pinterest for the artwork of interest and looked for examples of poetry illustrations to see how other artists have tackled this subject. And I read books on poetry or did Google searches to look for poems that lent themselves visual depiction. Some of the poetry that has inspired these works is verses written by Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and T.S. Elliot.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my artist statement! Have a wonderful week!