Art theory Faces Oil Painting Painting People Portrait

Color Boot Camp Part III: Complementary Colors, Red/Green #1


Usually I pick the one image that I like the best to put at the top of my posts but after doing this exercise six times, I don’t know which, if any, I like at all. My struggles and mood on the day I was working on these studies really came through in the images. Each portrait seems to be saying what I was feeling, from “WTF!” to “I’m confused” to “Erk!” to “Help! Get me out of here!” To “Maybe it’s time to move on.”  More about complementary colors and what I learned from this exercise after all the awful paintings below:

The goal of the Complementary Color part of the New Masters Academy Color Boot Camp is to work with different pairs of complementary colors under different lighting conditions and observe the way the colors interact, both visually in the image, and when mixing together on the palette. Complementary colors are clearly explained this Wikipedia page.

The easiest way to remember which colors are complements are to think of the triad of the three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. Pick a color; the missing part of the triad is its complement. If you pick green (composed of blue and yellow) then red is missing. Red and green are each other’s complements. Pick yellow and what’s missing? Red and blue. When combined they make purple. Therefore purple and yellow are complementary colors. Ditto for orange (red+yellow) and blue.

Things I noticed: Red and green, like all complements, when beside each other make each other look brighter, more vibrant. When mixed together they dull each other down and make a grayed color. I really struggled to get a likeness, and even though that isn’t the point of the color exercises I got determined (obsessive?) until I finally gave up. Flat, frontal lighting makes it hard to find landmarks and planes in the face.

The last images are of the original photo reference, the teacher’s painting and two Photoshopped pictures where I selected color spots on the reference photo using the eyedropper tool and painted a spot of that color on a layer above the photo layer (displayed here with and without the photo). I do that when I have trouble recognizing what colors I’m actually seeing. I never really nailed any of these, in likeness or color. But the next exercise came out really great and I’ll post that soon.

Art theory Still Life

How to Draw Bottles that are Symmetrical

Daily Sketch, bottle-drawing practice, graphite, 8x10 inch
Daily Sketch, bottle-drawing practice, graphite, 8×10 inch

After struggling with a crooked bottle in a still life painting with lopsided shoulders, this morning I figured out how to draw bottles and keep the curves and angles on both sides symmetrical. 

The solution: 

  1. Make a mark for top and bottom and widest point of width on each side and draw a rectangle enclosing the shape. Draw a vertical line down the center of the rectangle.
  2. Next I  lightly drew a rectangle (or enclosing envelope) around each “section” of the bottle, with the bottom of each rectangle at the spot where the exterior of the bottle changes direction from a curve in or out. I left some of those marks in the sketch above.
  3. Then draw straight diagonal lines from section to section and soften them into matching curves. It’s much easier to draw straight lines accurately than curved ones.
  4. Draw the ellipses for each section using the guidance here from Sadie Valerie. 
Art theory Faces Oil Painting Painting Portrait

Color Boot Camp Part II: Saturation Study #4: Low to Moderate Saturation

Color Boot Camp SATURATION: Neutral Areas vs. Saturated Areas, 11x14" oil study
Color Boot Camp SATURATION: Neutral Areas vs. Saturated Areas, 11×14″ oil study

In this last  Saturation exercise in the New Masters Academy Color Boot Camp series, the Major Key is low with so much black background. The most contrast of saturation or Minor Key comes in her red dress. I was happy with the way my study proceeded, without too much struggle, and how it turned out. It was easier to paint because there was more contrast in the reference photo.

Below are the reference photo and Mr. Perkins’ 30 minute study.