Color Boot Camp: SATURATION. Overall Low Saturation, Study 2, 11x14" oil

Color Boot Camp: Saturation. Overall LOW Saturation, Study 1 v.2, 11×14″ oil on Dura-Lar

In each of Bill Perkins’ New Masters Academy Color Boot Camp courses, he introduces one aspect of color (e.g. Value, Saturation, Complements, Temperature), demonstrates and explains further with a quick oil study of the same model in different color/lighting situations. I tried this one twice (second version above, first below) because even though he emphasizes these assignments are NOT meant to be portraits, I’m as interested in learning to capture a likeness as I am color. I did a better job on the positioning of her head and getting a likeness in the second one, above. (See bottom of post for reference photo and teacher’s rendition.)

Color Boot Camp: SATURATION. Overall Low Saturation

Color Boot Camp: SATURATION. Overall Low Saturation, Study 1 v1

Mr. Perkins uses the concepts of Major Key and Minor Key for each color topic. In Saturation, the Major Key describes the Level of saturation—how intensely saturated the colors are in the greater proportion of the image. The Minor Key represents the Range of contrast between neutral gray and the most saturated color in the image. This first study in saturation is supposed to represent a Low Major and Minor Key.

I was confused at first by how highly saturated the model’s face seemed to be with her very rosy cheeks and golden skin. But after getting some valuable feedback from the teacher, I now understand that the Major Key is Low because the proportion of saturated color (her cheeks) to neutral areas (the rest of the painting) is small; and the Minor Key is Low because the range of saturation from neutral to the moderately-saturated pink in her cheeks is also fairly low.

Below are the photo reference, my paintings,  and the teacher’s study. He painted her skin tones much darker than I did. Maybe I need more study with value?  I can see how I could have gone a little darker but not as dark as he did. Coming up next, Study 2 with very saturated High Major and Minor Keys; just the opposite of this one.

Art theory, Faces, Oil Painting, Painting, Portrait
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Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing the studies and tips. You are obviously a great student (as well as a great painter!). The important message from your blog is that art education is a life-long pursuit – this is so important to realize right from the start. You certainly set a good example for artists at any stage of their development and career.


    • Thank you Gaelle. I think the best thing about painting and drawing is that the learning is endless. Even after a total “failure” by the next day I’m eager to try again and see if I got it this time. I really appreciate your thoughtful and kind comments!


  2. Glad to see you’re continuing with this course Jana, I haven’t returned to it as I have found other subjects more appealing as of late. The information is very compelling though and I need to study up on my color and value. Thank you for posting it always motivates me to do more.


    • Thanks Chris. I’ve done all of the Saturation exercises and just started on the latest series on Complementary colors. I had a bunch of questions about what the learning goals were supposed to be, more about major/minor keys and some other things and was delighted when I got a full page response from Bill Perkins (via their Help/Ask a Question form). One thing he explained was that the course is not meant for beginners–more for experienced painters (since he doesn’t explain the usual color wheel kind of basics). I’m really enjoying the challenges.


  3. WOW, Jana! Your paintings are incredible! You are an incredibly dedicated artist. Thank you for sharing your work with us.


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