In contrast today everything is in color, living color, splashing color, neon color and colors never in even the largest Crayola box. I love color. Color seduces us, soothes us and excites us. Perhaps we are drawn to make art simply because the playground is so bright and wonderful.
However, it is easy to let color run away with the story and this fact was brought home so clearly at a recent workshop I took with colorist Andy Braitman. Take a look at his art and you will swoon for the color combinations. He can actually made a 2D canvas vibrate with the scene at hand. Yet Andy spent three days discussing the importance of VALUE. To make it simple let's imagine that every color in the universe falls into one of three categories: dark, medium and light. In other words, apply a black and white camera to something you are looking at and the values, not the colors, will be obvious. This is a relatively simple idea to grasp but one that takes many hours to understand in the world of painting.
Unless you are an artist you really don't want me to explain much more about this concept. But I bring it up because it is an excellent concept to apply when you are viewing art. If something doesn't "feel" right to you it is probably because the execution did not give close attention to the role of value. Yes, you like the use of red and blue but are all the reds the same, do any of the blues move to the background while some come forward? You can ask these questions without really having to know the whys. Your gut will tell you if it all hangs together in a pleasing way or is a bunch of unrelated shapes. Squint your eyes until all you see are black and white (or greyish) shapes...are they still pleasing or disconcerting?
You're well on your way to critiquing art!
Here's a piece I did under his guidance:
And here it is in black and white:
One last test, let me know specifically where your eye travels, or lingers and I'll let you know if I did it correctly!
Color Fully Yours,