Some of my students have continued to struggle with understanding color value, chroma or intensity and color temperature. Therefore, we did this exercise. We took a red, yellow and a blue (works best with a blue that is more to the turquoise hue (rather than ultramarine blue which leans more red or purple). We also used white and transparent oxide red or burnt sienna.
Here are the directions:
First row: Put a square of the tube color directly from the tube.
Second row: Keep the hue (color) the same and match the value across the row
(As many times as we have worked on value, this was the first time some students relearned that each color has its own value For example looking at their value scales, they re learned that yellow is a lighter value color than red or blue. Therefore, going lighter was a good option to solve this challenge). In my example, I lightened all the colors. You can see that adding white also cools the colors. Adding white also decreases the chroma (the intensity) of the colors.
Third Row: Keep the value of the new color the same as the value of the color from the tube but decrease its intensity. You know (from above) that adding white decreases the color intensity. However, it also lightens (and changes the value of the color it is added to). Instead, using a small amount of the compliment of the starting color corrected to the original color's value or adding a small amount of the transparent oxide red also corrected to the starting color's value, decreases the intensity but maintains the value of the challenge color.
Fourth Row: Keep the value the same as the starting color but change its color temperature. Again row two cools the starting colors, but it also lightens its value. Therefore, this example adds a small amount of a warm color to the starting color ( a small amount of yellow was added to the red, red to the yellow and the tiniest amount of yellow (to not change the hue to green) was added to the blue).
Looking at this 3 x 4 grid, you can already see the wide range of harmonious colors and see colors move forward and backward in relation to each other.
This to the left, is a painting by Julie Ford Oliver (link) that illustrates her "fracturing" technique. You can get her video tutorial where she demonstrates this technique for only $15 from Daily Paintworks (link). I have watched it many times and continue to learn from it. Our exercise was adapted from her tutorial.
Our subject was a strawberry. We used our exercise canvases. None of these surfaces move paint very well. Therefore, we put a fairly thick layer of paint mixed with medium all over our surface. Using a mid or light value color was more successful than using a dark color for this step. We then used our wipe out or Kemper tools (link) to drag paint off the surface and create interesting random marks. These were both thick and thin lines. Next, we sketched in our strawberry using either the Kemper tool, or pastel pencil. Now, we painted the little painting. Everywhere there was a line, we pretended it was the border of a mosaic and changed colors. For example: in painting the dark strawberry flesh we could paint alizarin crimson and magenta. At a line, change to alizarin crimson and purple (still dark but a change in color). Once the little painting was completed (including the background), we took the Kemper tool and created new lines (or redrew lines that we liked and wanted to repeat) and dragged the strawberry color into the background and the background color into the strawberry. Them we repainted our strawberry composition, again altering colors at the lines. If some lines didn't work for our evolving painting, we painted over these.
This was fun for everyone. We stopped after these two passes. However, we saw that we could continue adding more layers. All of the little exercises were delightfully loose and interesting.
Here is mine:
This exercise was adapted from a lesson from Virtual Art Academy (link), Virtual Art Academy is an on line class that I have been enrolled in and highly recommend.
I painted this example in a variety of colors to make it easier to follow. Draw simple geometric forms to represent the masses of the tree foliage (For this exercise, we drew three circles). Mark the source of light. (Here it is coming from the upper left). Sketch in the form shadow shape (remember the shape is concave toward the light).
Get out your value scales to continue. Paint the areas in light a value 6. Paint the shadow areas a value 4. I included the values of the three colors I am using: value 6 (light) to the left.
Add some of the light color into the shadow area: larger strokes in the center of the form where the leaves are closer to the viewer. Smaller strokes are at the top and the bottom (as the form moves AWAY from the viewer). Add some dark color into the light area using the sizes of strokes noted.
Paint the edge of the light area a half value darker than the light area (you painted the light area a value 6, so paint the edge plane a value 5 1/2). If this were round still life object, the edge plane, as the form moves away from you is less lit, so slightly darker. In this case, the explanation given by Virtual Art Academy is that at the edge of the tree form, more of the leaves are seen end on, so the shadow side of the leaves affects the edge plane color.
This is the exercise painting described in the previous post overpainted with color. Our main teaching point was to evaluate the color of the raw egg yolk. In our mind, an egg yolk is bright yellow. Yet, when we compared the yellow of our tubes to the yolk, we discovered that the color intensity of the tube yellow was always too bright. Therefore we adjusted the intensity of the yolk yellow using a tiny amount of alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue (red and blue make a purple which is the mixing complement of yellow, so it will grey down the yellow.) Since the yolk is very yellow, it takes only minute amounts of the alizarin and ultramarine to adjust it. Other things that were valuable to paint were the transparency of the raw egg white, and the colors in the white shell.
The colors used in my example of this exercise were: cad yellow light and deep, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, white and the underpainted asphaltum (which was still wet but thin).
Stuck for a subject? We think a raw egg is one to revisit.
Mom, Wife, Former Pediatrician, One who LOVES color, creativity, paint, and lifelong learning.