While color intrigues me, I am learning that
unless you have control of the color it can
totally overwhelm a painting. I have been trying
to learn how to limit my palate and become intimately
familiar with how color mixes.
For this limited palate experiment I selected 3 analogous colors (next to each other on the color wheel) and the complimentary color to the center one (in this case, the purple). Add to this the ingredients for mixing black (burnt siena and french ultramarine) and a white, and I have all of the tubes I would use for the entire painting. No, this was not my comfort-zone palate. Game on.
I laid out the colors and began to imagine what I could mix up from different quantities of each. Once a lovely color is found you can lighten it and get several tones from it. This part is really fun.
The hard part is reproducing in a large amount something that suddenly works in a small bit.
My subject, the entrance view to the Santa Elena Canyon, was already laid out on my 24" x 24" canvas in the three tones of black and white.
done with a black charcoal, medium and white oil
Now I went in with large swatches of color mixed from the limited palate and staying carefully within the tones I had established with the charcoal and white above.
you might be able to see some texture I laid down in this first pass:
I used a roller, made scribbles with a rubber tip and drew lines with my palate knife
I kept mixing and began to add some dimension to the grassy bank, put a little more interest
in the front bank and tried to get a handle on how the rocks would jut in and out.
I like working on dry layers (this helps preserve the texture which will eventually show up better) so by necessity I worked slowly and methodically. I would eat my lunch talking to the piece trying to determine what would be tweaked on the next round, the next day. Again, I had to use only the few tubes of paint I had laid out.
Here's the final...maybe.
24" x 24" oil
Santa Elena, incomplete
I'm not so pleased with the mound of the upper left rock....which was going to be my focal point. I need to redefine it in some way that is believable (the top edge really softens near the sky) but still remains an eye grab (lightest light next to the darkest dark). But otherwise I think the piece hangs together nicely. Perhaps some of that lighter gold up there will help? See? The problem solving is actually fun when you have limited tools at your disposal.
Right now I have a totally different piece underway with the exact same palate. Stay tuned to see how different it is in coloration.
LIMITING COLORS...for now,