“You smell like Paint and Coffee Grounds”

April 25, 2010

That’s because i’m covered in paint and my body is seven tenths caffeine.

Of late, i’ve been splitting my time between my day job, and making some painted artwork for a few friends. It’s been super challenging, and incredibly labour intensive, but I think I am starting to qualify as ‘Almost Competent‘. I’d mostly like to talk about Colour Theory, and a few ideas I consider important.

Please forgive the low quality photo, I had to ask the owner of the piece to take it for me. This was one of my first paintings, done for my then-current boss in 2008! Damn that was awhile ago. But i’m showing you this to give you a general idea of what ‘winging’ it achieves. There is a gratuitous number of layers in this, and the end result is a vague sense of lighting, and a whole bunch of muddy looking colours.

So if you flash forwards to the beginning of this year, the same guy wanted another piece, for his cafe. (Thus the coffee theme). He wanted the same sort of style, something I was happy to comply to. The comparison to make note of here is that this piece was created in a much tighter timeframe, (A week of actual paint time once concepts were okayed) and in my opinion, it holds together a lot more than the Brain.

Sequence of delicious biscuits.

The coloured mosaic background posesses the same colours, but by using larger blocks, I was able to avoid the colours intermixing too much. This effect is caused by the Human eye misinterpreting colour data when at range. It generalises. Makes something up and sends it on it’s way. The problem lays in what exactly it comes up with to represent the masses of colour on the canvas. Putting a Medium Yellow streak next to a Dark Green can turn into a Medium sort of.. brown. So if you were trying to draw a fine, golden filgree on a Green Bear, you’re shit out of luck.

Click for the link-through!

That’s not to say it’s neccessarily a bad thing. My Brother, Chris, uses is pretty well in some of his work which you can see above. Notice how you seem to get more of the gist of it when it’s shrunk down a little? The larger, and certainly the real life, versions both show far more detail and hint towards the tactile nature of the physical piece.

Sorry to bombard you with the Colour charts you’ve undoubtedly seen a million times before, or even been forced to try and replicate. But it turns out, Dru Blair, other older guys, the Ancestors of the craft, know what the hell they’re talking about. The best way I can explain what I think is going on is this; Amateur artists think they’re working with an additive colour spectrum. But we’re not! It’s subtractive, like CMYK printing inks. I’m not sure if it holds up to every paint medium, but if you mix complementary colours, you aren’t going to end up with White, are you? No! You end up getting a crappy grey sort of tone. Sure, if you want that flavour of Grey, than that’s great. But chances are, you wanted a Blue that was a little bit greener.

So, say you want a blue-green sort of Aqua, and you want it bad. If you were to draw a line across the colour circle from Blue to Yellow, you’ll notice pretty quickly that you’re getting into Desaturation territory. But, if you draw a line from Blue to say, Yellow/Green, you’ll notice that you get a hell of a lot more saturation for money. Take your your Blues and Yellows, make a nice Green, and then mix that with a Blue that you created for that specific situation. Another compounding factor is the idea that sometimes you need to desaturate, because real life is full of far more subtle variations in colour. I mean, hold up a Toucan and a Peregrine Falcon next to each other. Which one do you take more seriously, really.

If you read all that, fantastic. I think I lost a bit of cohesion near the end, but hopefully i’ve given you enough so you’ll at least mull over your colour theory now instead of colour picking whatever looks ‘about right’.

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