CHOOSING & KNOWING
You’ve decided on the composition for your next
painting, but there are further color considerations.
Be familiar with hue, lightness and saturation as well
as the emotions discussed in May Art Perspectives.
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
What effect are you trying to create and what colors
will help you to reach your goal? Are the colors appropriate
for the intended audience? Can you improve the effect
by changing any of the colors?
THE BACKGROUND COMES FIRST
In many paintings, the background is the largest visible
area, so choices are critical.
CHOOSE SHADES BEFORE HUES
A tint is a light value and a shade is a darker value
of any particular color. Pick the shades first when
choosing a color scheme. The light and dark values
are more important than the straight tube colors.
VARY THE SHADES
Subtle shifts in color will lend a realistic look to
USE COMPATIBLE HUES
Varying shades makes color compatibility important. Your
hues do need to be compatible because the line between
contrast and chaos is a fine one.
LIMIT THE NUMBER OF COLORS
If you are doing high visibility, high impact work such
as posters, brochures or signs, the way to increase
color harmony and contrast is to limit the number of
hues in your scheme. The flip side is that nature contains
every possible combination of color, so knowing when
to limit the numbers is not always easy.
USE FAMILIAR COLORS
For conventional audiences, use conventional colors.
Uncommon colors can look disagreeable even if they
follow the rules of color harmony.
USE “NATURAL” COLORS
The most familiar colors you will find are the ones you
see in nature everyday. They are harmonious by definition.
Since objects in nature are rarely lighted evenly,
subtle shading is important.
Ignore all the guidelines rather than use a color scheme
that is boring. Some rules are made to be broken.
Art Perspectives from Shirley Reade ©