Vacationland (detail)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Color Choices

Thomas Dewing: Summer oil on canvas 42 1/8 x 5...T.W. Dewing, "Summer", oil on canvas
I'm working on a project that, for many reasons, has me thinking about Ben Kamihira's paintings. His paintings are amazing in many, many ways, but I most admire them for their controlled use of color.
Each morning for the past few years I've had a constant group of pigments on my palette--usually the anchor is somewhere in the Burnt Umber neighborhood with a few chromatics nearby for good measure. The resulting paintings have a nice warm feel and there's plenty of range in the value scale to model forms, but a one-palette-fits-all approach has its obvious flaws. However, there are so many varieties and combinations of palettes that it ultimately feels quite arbitrary what one chooses. So, the other day, after looking at an old Kamihira print ad from many years ago, I opened a book about another one of my favorite artists, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, and was tempted by the desire to paint on a much more green ground than I normally would. I quickly realized that now I'd have to reassess what colors would work with this particular panel. The first question becomes: does one use the green as a strong counterpoint to observed color, or to stay in close harmony with the green? I chose harmony for this go round. So here we go--four pigments, that's all: Terre Vert, Quinacridone Violet, Burnt Sienna and White.

Study of CBB as a Wizard, oil on panel