Tuesday, August 14, 2012

day 2 color theory

Local Color-the next part of the color theory formula is local color.  Identifying what color the object is outside of a light temperature influence.  If the hue is saturated it is easier to identify than if the color is tinted, grayed or pale by any means.

If we think of an apple, a red one, we can think of any number of reds in the family but some will inherently look warmer, with more yellow, or cooler, with more blue in them.  When put under the influence of a spot light, we get a warm healthy looking red.  When under the shadow light, usually blue, we get something that feels cool, cold, and maybe even crisp.  When photographing food it is important to think about the lighting by color to keep the food looking healthy and edible, not peaked or decayed, something we would not want to put into us.

Local color for flesh varies from race, age and exposure to the elements.  But we can say that most of the time skin is very neutral by color, maybe even earthen.  Flesh is not a color formula, especially since there are so many colors that can perform similarly when mixed.  But, there are other formulas that work well to help guide the artist to making better mixing decisions.

LocalColor + DirectLightColor +Indirect Light Color + Reflective Light Intensity/Color = The Color mixture for whatever spot you are about to paint in the direct light

LocalColor +Indirect Light Color + Reflective Light Intensity/Color = The Color mixture for whatever spot you are about to paint in the indirect light

The reason color is difficult to teach is because there has been no real formula for getting a color correct.  Some schools teach temperature but do not give a thorough description.  Many schools teach from an organized well-used palette that has been traditionally handed down over the years/centuries.  Some have learned a specific artists palette and teach through that.  This color theory I show is a combination of a color technique perfected by Albert Munsell and altered by Sorolla’s theories by one of my former mentors, Sebastian Capella and then reinforced by Johannes Itten’s Color Theory.  Like I have done with figure drawing, I have taken several systems and distilled the system down into common traits, unique functions, and discarded the extraneous. 

So with these two formulas above, we can go on to finding color and how it works. 
One more thing you should know.  Without the understanding of the chemistry behind your paints, there will be a misunderstanding of mixing colors as some metals and organic stuff do not mix well, resulting in mud, or a dull version of what you thought would be something more vibrant or saturated.   Read the labels, have a copy of
The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques: Fifth Edition, Revised and Updated (Reference) by Ralph MayerThis book is a must have if you are investing in a career in art and will have a space to work in.  Knowing how your materials function and what they are made of is a must know for every artist regardless of whether you are self trained or studio trained.  Make sure you have a solid working knowledge of your materials; it will save your life, and preserve your work for a long time.

So far we have learned to identify the color of the light source.  Next we look at what or whom we are going to paint.  This helps us with identifying the kind of palette we might need to accommodate for all the colors to be mixed.  More specifically it helps us pick part of the palette for the local colors of the objects.  

From all of this banter we can identify a few things about the palette.
 1.  We need a tinter and a toner of sorts.  Some artists will tell you that no black is necessary on the palette.  The primary reason black is not added is because of the way it dries matte to everything else having some kind of sheen to it, the sheen being produced from the oils in the paints or the oils added to the paints.  TOOL/RULE:  To make black work effectively, always mix a color into it to help dilute it.
 2.  We need to know the color of the light source to include a color set to accommodate for its influence on all the local color(s) and for the indirect light source and its color(s).
 3.  We need colors that will help the painter achieve a complete spectrum, or to help the painter paint within the local colors confined to his/her proximity of view.

As a professional painter, the guiding force is this:
 4.  I need colors that suit my mood and temperament to how I feel about me as a painter, the world and how I should perceive what I am about to paint and the subject that stirs my emotions.

So far, we are looking for the color of the light, and the color of the object.  A helpful hint for any unidentifiable color:  for the studying what we see before us, or naturalistic lighting/realistic lighting naturally displayed, identify the color by using temperature as a key we can identify anything to its root color or original hue.  This means finding within our setting or within the photographic space a clearly identifiable warm and cool color and comparing them to what you are trying to identify as a color to mix.  This might seem contradictory to thought at first, but it is a very useful way to pinpoint a mixture almost instantly when skillfully used.  I call this one of the key training wheels in studying color outside of the theoretical content we must intellectually understand.

Once a local color and once the light source has been color ID’d, these can be adjusted or modulated through the process of tinting and shading or graying/toning.  This can be done by adding pure gray scale tones or by any other formula, one of them being adding the color opposite, however anything outside of adding a tint or tone has the additional need for understanding which colors chemically we are mixing together to make a perfect mixture.  By adding any old blue to any old yellow will not always make a green, or make the green we need.

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