Sunday, July 25, 2010

Color Study and Composition Workshop for Art Educators, July 12 -16, 2010

Days 1,2 and 3 Intro to Color Study, "We're not in Kansas any more..."
Box studies

The stage is set. The set ups are very simple to begin with. A single box under warm artificial light, situated so you can see 3 distinct planes. One light source. Simple drapery, one for the bottom plane and another for the background. A cast shadow on the down plane or the back plane adds another color shape. This should create a set up with 6 or 7 different colors to relate, a good starting point.

Start with a grisaille and construct a simple drawing; lightly mass in the shadow shapes. Keep the paint thin. This step should take about 5 minutes. Start with the most easily seen color. It should also be a color that is easy to mix. This is usually a color in the light. Keeping each color shape simple, try to see color as the effect of light on form, not as a "local" color.

Start with strong, simple color statements for each shape, exaggerating each color. Don't spend too much time correcting a color at this point, state it and move on to the next color. Work your way around the canvas, relating each color to the adjacent colors, scanning your eyes back and forth from one color to the next to help you see the color relationship. Color is relative. Work your way around your study until you have stated all of the color shapes. Keep it simple. No variation in the shapes at this point.

Express each plane change as a color change. Don't add brown or black to make a color darker, instead see each plane as a distinct color, influenced by the light source. After your first pass around the canvas, start by making adjustments to each color spot, making them more correct in relation to the surrounding colors. Try to adjust the colors by applying paint directly on the canvas, without premixing on the palette. Use enough paint to really cover the color when you are adjusting it. Use a little stand oil to help subsequent paint layers stick, if necessary. You can use a little medium- stand oil and turp- to get the paint flowing if necessary. When relating one color to another, as yourself the following questions, "Is it warmer or cooler (hue), lighter or darker (value), saturated or dull (intensity)?"


  1. Great workshop. Can't wait to see Days 4 & 5!

  2. Hi, nice coverage Nat! I wish I could have joined all the workshop folks at the open drawing/painting session today. Seeing Nelson's new paintings saturday is so inspiring. Hi Pam - do those colored boxes look familiar?

  3. I love seeing all of his work too. I am amazed every time I go to his studio! And inspired.......what a privilege to see all of that beautiful work in progress.