Artist Tips

For practical tips and techniques to improve your artwork click on the following tips:

Color

The Power of Color

One of the most exciting tools in an artist’s toolbox is color. Effective artists seek not only intrigue, but also to make an emotional connection with their audience. Serenity, passion and affection are among the emotional responses color can help to evoke.

Marketing professionals understand the power of color. It is no accident for example, that the color scheme for the buildings of all the major auto dealerships is blue and white. Buying a car is an expensive and stressful purchase. The blue and white of a warm summer sky is an appropriately calming color. Luxury dealers often use grey with small touches of mauve which is even calmer adding a hint of passion. It is also note worthy that fast food chains, which wish you to be quickly in and out in of their establishments, tend to choose the active and warm colors of oranges and golds. Valentine cards are red and pink which speak to us of love and passion. Baby cards are in bright pastels.

When depicting a warm day I sometimes ignore the local color and paint an analogous painting using primarily yellows, quinacridone gold and quinacridone burnt orange. Or if I am painting people I may change the color of their clothing to blend in with the background chosen to reflect my impression of their personality. In the jazz clubs of New Orleans I sketched on top of some paper which had bright red and blue color previously painted on it. My goal is not to document what I see so much as respond to it. 

The example in this article is of a small painting of a young girl that I observed in Saint Marks Square during our recent art adventure in Venice. I chose to set the mood by using soft pastels in the background. This was to reflect the caring feelings we have as adults toward young children. If I had used strong reds and purples for example, it would have communicated something entirely different.

Next time you approach a piece take a little time prior to beginning for reflection. Ask yourself which colors best reflect what you are trying to communicate? Would bright or neutralized color be the clearest expression of your feelings? How about warm or cool? Consider doing a series of the same subject matter with different color choices.

Happy painting - Lee Baughman

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