Studio Materials 2

Studio Materials 2

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chromatic Shades of Gray

I'm working on a series of landscape paintings in which I am experimenting with working on top of a highly chromatic background color. Ironically, this backdrop allows me to see grey in a colorful way. These paintings have a low horizon line, therefore the cloudy skies I am immersing myself in take up most of the compositional acreage.

When we think of cloudy skies, we tend to imagine them as being grey. The question I like to ask myself is, "What kind of gray?" Is it green gray, purple gray, yellow, orange? When we paint gray, we can, of course, include color into our palette. In fact, I always mix my grays by mixing opposite colors. For example, the warm grey at the bottom of my palette in this photo was created by mixing burnt sienna and sap green, two somewhat opposite colors, helping to create a still warm but more chromatic grey.

When I began work on the structure, I used a purple grey that absolutely sang on the yellow canvas. Immediately, my grey painting had color. What a joy!

Here, the yellow underpainting still shows through quite a bit and I am working to match the chroma of it with greens at the bottom. The "grays" in the sky appear blue and purple.

In this last image, I've adjusted the movement of the blue grey in the middle of the composition, a very important element, and shifted it's location to the left in order to better balance the painting.

The painting at this stage still feels "yellow" but now the background color is more integrated into the heavier layers of paint. It shows through just a bit here and there in it's raw state, yet informs every color choice I have made.