6 Thoughts About Color

Color is one of the things artists love about painting, but it can also be one of the most frustrating. There are lots of “rules” out there which try to make sense of it and they are a good starting point, but ultimately every artist, as with most other aspects of painting, has to find their own way.

Here are six thoughts on color, based on my own experience and information I’ve picked up over the years. Add some of your own in the comments!

1. Color is relative. How we perceive a color’s hue and value depends entirely on what’s around it.

2. Come up with a “color plan” for your painting. Decide if it will be monochrome, use complementary colors, analogous colors, etc. Do very small (5×7″ or smaller) color roughs, if necessary.

3. Value is how light or dark a color is, separate from what hue the color is. If you get the values right, you can do anything you want with the color.

4. A good rule of thumb is when you change the value, change the temperature. Warm highlights/cool shadows. Cool highlights/warm shadows.

5. While there are a variety of useful “rules” for using color, ultimately you do whatever works to let you say what you want to say.

6. Don’t be afraid of color. Go for it!

This post is illustrated with details from my latest painting in progress. Check back next Friday to see the whole thing, plus step-by-step photos.

And……I will have a major announcement on Monday about my next trip to Mongolia!

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