I thought this color and portrait exercise was going to be hard, if not impossible, because of the crazy neon green and red lighting on the model. But because she was lit from the sides her face was modeled with visible planes and shapes it was surprisingly easier than the previous red/green portrait experiments. It was fun to paint and I’m really happy with everything about it. Below is the reference photo and the teacher’s study. I enjoy seeing how he makes each painting look like a different person, using the model as a jumping off place rather than going for a specific likeness.
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.
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.
This Color Boot Camp, Saturation exercise, like the previous one, is about painting in a high major and minor key. The High Major Key means that overall the greater proportion of the image (the background) is very saturated. The Minor Key, or range of contrast of saturation, is also high because if the contrast between the highly saturated background and her shirt and her skin tones are moderately saturated.
The underlying drawing and so the painting itself is rather awkward and not a great likeness but I was going for value and saturation. The reference photos with flat lighting and without strong shadows are the hardest to draw and paint since there is no contrast showing the bone structure or planes that give a three-dimensional look to a painting.
Below are the reference photo and Mr. Perkins’ 30 minute study. Again I love the way he simplifies and makes a “painting” without worrying about making a “portrait” on an exact person.
Continuing in the New Masters Academy Color Boot Camp series, this second Saturation exercise is about painting in a high major and minor key. The High Major Key means that overall the greater proportion of the image is very saturated. The Minor Key, or range of contrast of saturation, is also high. As you can see, the background is very neutral relative to her blouse and skin tones.
I was very happy with the way my study turned out. I spent closer to 3 hours than 30 minutes but the session went very well without much struggle.
Below are the reference photo and Mr. Perkins’ 30 minute study. I love the way he simplifies and makes a painting without worrying about painting this exact person.
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.)
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.
When my art friend Chris Beaven commented on the previous version of this post that it would be interesting to see my studies compared to the black and white versions of the photo references, I did a virtual dope slap (Of course! What a perfect way to see if I got the values right!) and then decided to redo this blog post to show that comparison (above).
While I often convert color photos to black and white to see the values, when I did these studies from Bill Perkins’ Color Boot Camp on New Masters Academy I wanted to try to do the conversion in my artist brain instead of using technology. But putting my studies next to the converted photos gives me just the reality check I needed. I can see that I did pretty well in painting the values from the color photos.
In the lesson he set up one model in four different lighting situations and then demonstrated doing a 30-minute painting of each in black and white. He recommends doing the studies in no more than 30 minutes, emphasizing that it’s more important to do many starts, without worrying about getting a likeness or making finished paintings. I have to admit spending longer than 30 minutes, probably up to 3 hours on some, and in retrospect, the longer I worked the less effective the study was.
If you want to see Bill Perkin’s studies and mine in greater detail, click the “read more” link below. Read More