Thursday, 29 October 2015

Yellow Study

study of boston terrier, light and shadow study

This painting was a study in painting light and shade using a base colour of cadmium yellow lemon.
Yellow is a tricky colour; to darken it you can use progressively darker shades of the same colour family - cadmium yellow deep, moving towards orange, right up to red if you want. But what if those colours are not going to work with your subject? Using them to model daffodils, for example, is not going to work - at least not if realism is your goal. I have experimented with yellow ochre (too overpowering and opaque) and raw sienna (too wimpy and transparent). 
So to achieve a more muted colour, which if you isolate it from its context, is barely definably yellow, I used the complement - violet. 
I mixed my own using ultramarine and alizarin crimson because purple straight out of the tube didn't seem to work.
The second step I took was to separate out in my mind the light parts of this scene from the shadow parts and forced myself to consider them as two sets of separate colours, which I mixed accordingly. 
I have gone through the phase of painting everything the same colours and then attempting to put the shadows over the top (like in "real life"): and it doesn't work.
In a steady and uniform light that cushion behind his back is one colour - pale yellow. But light is rarely steady and never uniform. In the context of this scene it is two separate colours. I had in-the-light colour strings down one side of my palette and in-the-shade colour strings down the other.
It was the same for the dog.
I think it worked. He looks like a sweet dog.

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