Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Carriage image, Slight Revisions

Here's the carriage image without the bleed cropped, and with a few minor changes. I think it looks better without the crop, but the crop will be necessary for a mailer and I needed the image to work with a crop.


  1. Interesting seeing them all together after they popped up separately. The travelers arrive at their destination.

  2. this is so beautiful, you have such a way with color I wish you would teach me, I am in awe.

  3. Caron, thank you so much. If you want to talk specifically about a piece and the color decisions I made and why I made them I'd be glad to. My color choices are part intuitive and partly reinforced by what I know about color theory and what I've culled from the impressionists, other illustrators and such. Delacroix is a good one to look to as well. I'm a big fan of the illustrators DeCrecy and Mattotti who are both great with color.

    You also have to understand the forgiving nature of the computer. SInce everything I do is assembled on the computer, I can tweak it and tweak it until it looks right to me. This piece, for instance, like most, started with a very different, uglier palette that wasn't working. It's just so much easier to take risks with color on the computer.

    You're a peer, of course, and your work is at a professional level, so I wouldn't presume to do this with you, but I've been teaching my teenage student to paint recently and have been teaching him glazing techniques in acrylic, a technique that involves some of these color concepts. We're going to the library next week and I'm going to pour over books with him and we're going to talk about why different artists use different palettes and what makes them work. I sort of feel my way through this stuff with him, so it's not like i can give a lecture on it or anything.

    Like a lot of my technical skills of late, my facility with color has been developed very recently, in the last three years or so.

  4. A few things here: the most important thing was to make sure the little girl didn't get lost in the background, so I tried a lot of different colors for the ground until I landed on purples and blues. It all came down to her skin color, which is essentially pink, so to have her pop I needed something on the other end of the color wheel, but it also needed to recede. So if I used green for instance, the girl's skin's compliment, it would have been too warm, and it might have contrasted but it wouldn't have dropped. So purples and blues were nice and cool, contrasted nicely and pushed the background back. I also had to pull some of those purples into her dress and into the shadows of her skin to make her look as though she belonged in the space.

    Then we've got the grasshopper and the frog. Green and purple go really nicely together, Purple right next to red on on the color wheel, green right next to yellow, so the purple really contrasts nicely with the green--contrast, again, is really the most important thing with color--and with just a little high saturation red here and there, complimenting the green, but not in a distracting way--the focal point balances nicely with those reds. Too much red and it would distract from our little girl, but these little accents balance nicely with that focal point. Again, more purples in everything here as reflective color in the shadows, pulling everything into the space, providing contrast.

  5. I want the background to recede, the very background now, so that's the coolest color we have here, and as you can see, the road is cooler than the purple of the ground, adding that progressive depth. This is a chromatic progression, and chromatic progressions can be used to generate depth on a landscape like this, or on a smaller scale, like on a portrait. Using chromatic modeling you can add a lot of depth as you go through both the color and tonal spectrum of a form.

    If you're coloring an apple for instance, if you've got blues in your dark shadows, you can go from blue to purple to red as you go around the form from dark to light. Highlights in orange and yellow would really set off your apple well, because then you have two colors analogous to your compliments, yellow and blue, blue next to green, yellow and orange next to red. Your going through the spectrum both in tone and color!

    Ok, back to the background. Making that tree a part of the space with some reflective color--a little blue and purple from the ground, yellow from the frog--it's analogous rather than strictly green, because green wouldn't recede enough, so yellow is a nice reflective color for that tree. Here the lightest lights match the background sky, again, making that tree recede but giving it a nice sense of form. There's a lot of background color in that tree. It might be in warm browns, but its not warmer than any of the warm colors in the foreground and doesn't compete. Even the mouse is warmer than that tree!

    Also the badger's fur is very dark purple, not black, as are the highlights on the coat and hat, integrating it nicely into the space, but having those nice blacks in there provides, again, lots of nice contrast. The leaves on the ground are meant to recede, again, not to compete with our little girl.

    So generally think about what color is going to do for your image, trying not to default to local color when you can. Skin color is seldom simply pink or brown (unless it works better that way in your image!) You would be surprised what you can get away with in the service in your image with color that doesn't have anything to do with the color things are SUPPOSED to be.

    I hope that helps a little. I'm not sure how great I"m explaining this. And keep in mind, I didn't just dive into this and know exactly what I needed to do. There was a lot of trial and error. That ground started out with browns and greens and it simply wasn't working. As I made each new color decision, it would suggest another decision, or I'd make an accident that worked and try to think about why it worked, then I'd do something similar on purpose elsewhere.

    Painting opaquely or in glazes, there's a lot more back and forth, and it can be nearly as forgiving as the computer since you can simply paint over stuff, so you don't need a computer to make up for all your mistakes. If I had a mostly brown green ground and needed to make it purple, the greens and browns would have served to neutralize the purple a little, and I don't want a full saturation purple on there anyway, so it would be just as well. There are limits to what you can change in traditional media, but not as many as you might think. Opaque paint, at least, is a pretty flexible medium. Watercolor, less so, which is why I get away with so much on the computer.