Painting and Color Theory

Four different workshops are offered in painting and color theory. Workshops can also be customized and combined to fit the needs of a particular group.

 1. Oil Painting and Trompe-l’oeil

St. Gerome 600Oil paint has traditionally been a favorite medium for rendering fine detail, luminous and illusionistic surfaces. Before the impressionist period artists used a technique of layering color, called glazing, to give a heightened sense of form and depth to their subjects. Painters started with a tonal image done in a limited number of earth colors to establish a strong sense of chiaroscuro– the movement from light to shadow. This under-painting technique was central to the final illusion. Once the first layer dried, more intense and varied colors were added in translucent layers. These were called glazes, because the first paint layers showed through them, (like glass). This workshop will present techniques for mixing under-painting palettes, creating under-paintings, mixing glazing palettes, and applying glazes to the under-painting. By learning to paint in layers, participants will gain greater control over a wider variety of color combinations and effects than are available in “alla prima” or “plein air” techniques. Participants will also learn some standard faux-finishing techniques as well as how to use them in illusionistic compositions.

2. Large-scale Murals and Paintings

Fall 600Artists can get commissions for a large works at any time in their career, but will they be ready for it? A large work of art is not just a small work enlarged; its design will require a different relationship to the viewers, a different color palette, and likely call for a different use of perspective. Projects for large works are usually planned in advance and may include presentation drawings for the client. Once a work is in production, it  usually requires materials, planning and techniques that are different from smaller works. Often it is impossible to “stand back” from a work and judge its effect during production due to scaffolding, or because the work must be executed in a different environment from where it will be displayed. Participants in this workshop will learn how a large work is designed and presented to the client as well as how the painting materials and color palette can be organized to facilitate its production.

3. Color Theory- Color Mixing

Colors 600During the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, color theory did not exist as we know it today. Artists knew how to mix the colors they desired, but had no unifying “theory” of hue, value and saturation similar to what we use today. In the twentieth century, Johannes Itten and Josef Albers developed the color theory we currently use. This theory organized colors well, but because the authors were abstract painters their theory was not concerned with the use of color to describe form and space. They were primarily concerned with flat “fields” of color and their influence on each other. The resulting lack of organization has resulted in the fact that current computer graphic color configurations are unable to correctly model skin tones, for example. This workshop explains the essentially proportional nature of color mixing, both as a digital model and using artists’ pigments. Participants will learn how to construct a full palette of balanced colors that can better describe form and space. They will also better understand how to work with digital color configurations.

4. From Nature to the Studio

center600Before the diffusion of photography, artists seldom attempted to make finished paintings directly from nature. Instead, they created numerous sketches, tonal drawings, watercolors and sometimes fairly loose oil sketches. They would return to the studio with these and begin to compose a large-scale finished painting from their visual “notes” and their memories of the days or weeks they spent “on site”. The final finished and highly crafted work of art was not meant to “capture a moment” but tell a larger story of their extended experience with the landscape. Ironically, the diffusion of photography seemed to prompt artists to actually try and “capture the moment”. Thus landscape painting moved from an activity that had little in common with photography, (although the finished works were intensely realistic in their effect); to a process of painting that was more like photography in its attempt to capture temporal reality, although the technique was more “painterly”. This workshop will propose a return to the earlier artistic process. Participants will create a number of studies directly from nature, then compose them into a studio work that tells the story of their experience rather than attempting to capture a “snapshot” version of that experience.

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