Saturday, October 10, 2015

COLORWAYS...or I did it all for the COLOUR.

This week I'm working on a commissioned piece. I did this color study chart to determine just how much color I can include, as it's supposed to sorta kinda “match” a previous portrait by another artist. It's for a Christmas I've fuzzed the image to protect the surprise.

While working on this color study, I was struck by a running theme in my artistic life.....colour. In any bio I've written, no matter the audience, I reference my love of colour. Ever since I got my grubby paws on that 64 color crayon box, I've loved playing with color. I got into fiber arts (knitting, crocheting, spinning), just so's I can have luscious colours run thru my fingers. Being able to use all the color I wanted led, in part, to my children's picture book illustrations.

(Acrylic paints on bristol board-back cover for Little Things Aren't Little When You're Little)

Most paintings I create, I already know the kind of colors I'm going to use.....they are often already decided for me, especially if I'm doing a commission. “Local color” or the native hues of a given subject....(.i.e. A fire engine is red or an orange is, will most often determine a painting's color scheme. On the other hand, if I'm the one deciding the subject matter, I will often paint something just for the colors involved;

colored pencil on bristol board 

Or spin a skein of yarn just to play with multiple color ways,

2 ply spun wool that I hand dyed

If I'm working on a commission, and the color choices aren't immediately evident, I often go back into my artistic “toolbox”, and pull out some help. With this portrait commission, I've got a white main subject from the client's reference photo. So what colours do I need to set off the subject the best? How to best “frame” the white subject, while keeping the portrait subject....the main event? One way to find out is to do little colour “doodles”.....and put them up side by side and see which one looks best.

If on the other hand I want to paint from my own (or Frank's) photos that inspire me, just 'cause of their hues....then I might do something like this “purples” help me see clearly just why I fell in “artistic luv” with an image. I have seen a few websites where they have a program to do this automatically, but I've been playing with doing it myself in Photoshop. I took one of my photos, and pulled out the colours that attracted me to the image
in the first place. This bitty chart is one is of a purple iris:

I did the same kind of thing when I was looking for a good gradient colorway for a spinning project. I made this chart to preview what different fibers would look like:

It doesn't matter what media you are using, paint, pencils or fiber.....if you have questions about can often find the answers in a bitty sampler “colorway chart”. It lets you have a colourful ,visual, conversation with help solve an artistic problem.


  1. Your fiber colors are gorgeous, as well as those in your paintings.

  2. Thank you! I've tried to keep the different parts of my "colourful life" separate....(fine art, illustration,fiber), but they keep on insisting that they can indeed co-exsist! So I'm letting them have their way.**grin**