Color and paint from still life

12 04 2012

I can teach you how to paint!

While my art students are on a little break from class—they’re vacationing in Turkey!—I’ve decided to show you what we’ve done so far in Painting I. Each week I welcome students with a studio tabletop set-up, explain the lesson, and do the lesson with them. We paint these assignments after practicing basic drawing and perspective, and learning about the values of light.

I urge students to not paint from a photograph, preferring that they draw and paint from life and the “local color” cues they should put down in the beginning. However, the now-ubiquitous digital camera phone and that the set is not available for viewing once the class is over for the day make it difficult to not refer to a photo.

The problem is, for beginners especially, if you paint from a photograph, the painting will look like a photograph. I think a painting is more interesting when it shows the artist’s individual line, imperfections included. Looseness will develop with time.

Below you can see how I treated the assignments myself. The medium is oil paint on canvas paper. Here’s evidence that limited palette paintings are generally stronger than images created with a full palette. Still to come, after students come back from break: the red-green painting and complementary color lesson and “the world in full color.”

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

The painting. Monochromatic color lesson: adding one hue only, veridian, to black and white, still mindful of the range of values, that is, the various tints and shades of gray. Lesson includes painting glass.

The set. Analogous color painting lesson with black, white, and three yellows. Black mixed with yellow makes green.

The painting. Using cadium yellow pale (cool yellow), cadmium yellow light (warm yellow), yellow ochre, black, and white.

The painting. The combinations of mixing cadmium red light (red-orange) and veridian (blue-green) represent the first of four lessons about complementary colors, that is, colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Combining complementary colors produces neutrals that are stronger than tube paints named for earth tones.

The set. Complementary colors blue and orange with shiny metal, glass, reflective surfaces, highlights (the incandescent spot) and low lights (from the window light).

The painting. Though challenging, it is much fun to paint reflected light.

The set. The complements yellow and violet mix to make warm tans and browns. Of light rays passing through a prism, yellow is the lightest value, and violet is the darkest. This still life set introduces drapery.

The painting. Painting drapes in the studio now is good practice for painting the Ko‘olau Mountains in the landscape later!

To learn more about painting lessons by Rebekah, please see the related post: Is painting on your bucket list?

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