Thursday, May 12, 2016

DIY Art Class: Fun with Colour

A basket full of colour
Back in January, when I was knee deep in yearly planning, I set three goals to explore as an artist.

1) Improve my understanding of colour.
2) Improve my understanding of composition.
3) Strive to infuse my work with more personal expression/interpretation.

That pretty much covers everything, doesn't it?

Maybe I'm a geek with my lists and my planning. I don't always accomplish everything I plan, either. But I can say with certainty that I get more done and get closer to my goals when I have a plan (and a list) than when I don't. Plus, it gives me some illusion of control in a chaotic world...but that's a discussion for another day.

Back to the list in question. Item one. Improve my understanding of colour.

My home made colour wheel. Note the confusion over where to draw the line between warm and cool colours. The jury is still out. I learned a lot doing this!
Searching the internet for resources, I found an intriguing exercise for painting called Colour: Get to grips with balance and contrast when painting. It seemed like a good place to start, so I bookmarked it and returned to it as I began my pieces for the year.

The first assignment is to create a piece in a monochromatic colour scheme, using different values of a single colour.

Variations on a single colour.
I was beginning Gratitude for Abundance at the time and wanted to create a sense of exuberance that I wasn't sure would work with a monochromatic palette, so I skipped ahead to step 2 to work with an analogous colour scheme instead. An analogous colour scheme uses three or more colours that are adjacent on the colour wheel.  Gratitude for Abundance is worked in an analogous colour scheme of blue-green/green/yellow-green that veers into yellow and even yellow-orange for detail.

Analogous blue-green/green/yellow-green colour scheme.
Next on my To Do list was a series of smaller pieces, so I used them as an opportunity to explore step 3 of my colour assignment: a composition in a complementary colour scheme. Complementary colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel.

Colour Study #1, 5 " x 7 " x 1.5", Yellow/Violet Colour Scheme
Colour Study #1 was my first complementary colour scheme exercise, using yellow and violet.

Colour Study #2, 5" x 7" x 1.5", Blue-Green/Red-Orange Colour Scheme
Colour Study #2 uses the complementary tertiary colours blue-green and red-orange.

Step 4 in my colour assignment is to execute a piece in split-complementary colours, so instead of using the colour directly across the colour wheel, you use the two colours on either side of it.

My brain gets easily bored, however, and I also wanted to explore the psychological properties of colour. I've been tossing around this idea of 'Zen Art'; pieces that are meditative for me to create and meditative for the viewer to observe. I knew colour would play a large part in this. Green, not surprisingly, gives us feelings of harmony, balance, and peace. Using green as my starting point, my split complementary colour scheme would be green, red-orange, and red-violet.

Here is what I chose to work with:

Green/Red-Orange/Red-Violet Yarns
The result is named The Sunny Day.

The Sunny Day, 9" x 12" x 1.5", Green/Red-Orange/Red-Violet Colour Scheme
Which brings me up to date. I still owe the universe a monochromatic piece and I've got one more split complementary piece to finish up. Then I'm on to exploring triads!

Overall, this has already been a great exercise and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in brushing up on colour theory. It seems elementary, but my pieces are obviously strengthened by good use of colour.

Now we are a third of the way through the year and I am ready to add my second artistic goal into the mix. Improve my understanding of composition. I'll let you know how it goes!