Jane has reminded us how important the concept of colour is in our lives. We are surrounded by colour and we think and talk about colours and their effects all the time. We can’t even serve a meal without making sure we have the right mix of colours on our plates!
To make a decision, the artist employs his/her understanding of colour.The ArtClassCurator has some excellent guidelines on using colour which I will utilise in this blog.
If you are learning to paint I hope that this information will help you.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec also utilised the primary colours for his famous lithograph poster Ambassadeurs Aristide Bruant in his Cabaret, 1892.
Next we have Complementary Colours which are opposite each other on the colour wheel and are used in art to create contrasts. There are three basic sets of complementary colours: red and green, purple and yellow, orange and blue.
If we return to the paintings of Erin Hanson you will note she is using complementary colours to effect contrast. Colour Reflection utilises the contrast between tones of orange and the mauve/purple/blue range.
Picasso’s Woman in Striped Armchair (1941) is probably one of the best examples of the use of sets of Complementary Colours working against each other in our minds to create dramatic dichotomies between the shapes.
Australian painter Ben Quilty makes great use of Analogous Colours to create his remarkable paintings. In his painting for the 2005 Archibald Prize of Beryl, analogous colours in pale flesh tones are used to portray a sense of dignity and tranquillity in Beryl's face. The flash of turquoise in her hair, a complementary colour, establishes the line to pursue to also find harmony in her clothing with the blue/greens. Often with the use of analogous colours one colour dominates as seen in the portrait of Beryl where the turquoise and dark blue are used for highlighting and shadow on the basic blue/green shirt.
Of interest is that the subject of Ben Quilty’s portrait is Beryl Whiteley, mother of acclaimed Australian artist, the late Brett Whiteley, and the founder and patron of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. Very soon we are going to study more of the paintings created by Ben Quilty, especially the works he produced as Australia’s Official War Artist.
Remember that warm colours are bold and can overwhelm a painting so use them with care. They evoke strong emotions.
But cool colours, especially blue can also convey sadness or doom. Look at Picasso's tribute to his friend, Casagemas in his Coffin Death at a Funeral (1901)- all blue with a touch of blue/green to evoke some feeling of naturalness and peace.
Teaching Hint: Violet/purple can be both warm and cool depending on how much red or how much blue is in the violet.
In the next Blog we are going to look at the two artists who can be considered to have changed the way painters perceive colour. Probably that should be three artists because as we know from Jane’s earlier Blog, one, an unknown Australian called John Russell, taught the famous one about colour!