Monday, July 23, 2012

Primarily Color

"Primarily Petals" 8x8 oil on Linen- SOLD
Happy Monday everyone! As an artist who loves to explore color theory, harmony, and strategy I was very excited to to participate in this week’s Daily Paintworks Challenge which is a painting that uses all primary colors—red, yellow, and blue.

I'm a colorist (rather than a tonalist) so I can appreciate the power and energy of the bold primary triad—particularly reds. However, I more naturally gravitate toward the secondary triad (orange, green, and violet) probably because I love greens so much.  So this was an interesting challenge for me.

Quick reminder that you can use a wide range of reds, blues, yellow pigments for a primary triad painting. I’ve noted a few of these “winning combos” before, but here are just a few ideas (plus white of course to help stretch your value range) that would work in your favorite painting medium. 
  • Permanent Rose, Lemon Yellow, Cobalt Blue
  • Cad Red Light, Cad Yellow Light, Ultramarine Blue
  • Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre, Cerulean Blue
  • Indian Red, Indian Yellow, Ivory Black
Consider the masterful use of the earthy reds, blues, and yellows in Winslow Homer's masterpiece  Eight Bells.
This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

 Versus the high intensity primary triad Franz Marc's Red Horses.

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
When planning your the color for a more successful painting, I also find it helpful to follow the general composition rule outlined in Greg Albert’s book: The simple secret to better painting.  And that is simply:  Never make any two intervals the same.

For this week's challenge, I bought intense red-orange sunflowers at the grocery store (one of my favorite spots to shop for affordable still life subjects). So I knew red would be my dominant color. Then blue followed by a few notes yellow (which is such a strong color that you often don’t need much to make an impact. ) Looking for more primary triad inspiration for your art? Just type “primary triad” or “red, yellow, blue color” into Pinterest and you’ll discover dozens of interesting combinations. Happy (primary) painting!

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