Oct 25, 2010

A New Challenge

This post is about a painting I just finished of historical significance. Not of historical significance to the world. Just to me, really. The reason it's so significant to me is that it is the very first painting I have ever done using only the three primaries (red, yellow, blue) and white. All previous paintings have used various tubes of pre-mixed colors, especially browns.

My tube of Burnt Sienna is feeling very jealous and neglected at the moment.

Why did I do this instead of using my tried and true loyal friends, Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber? I'm not sure. I think part of it was I didn't feel I really knew my colors. How can I really understand how to mix Burnt Sienna with Naples Yellow if I don't even know what it takes to create either of them?

Or, maybe I just needed a new challenge.

Oh, never mind the "why" of it. Let's just get on with it.

Last year I attended a wildlife photography workshop in Montana at the Triple D Game Farm hosted by wildlife photographer Paul Burwell and I got a lot of great photos. Well, maybe "great" is a bit strong, since I'm not a great photographer. But I did get a lot of photos, close to 1,000. The nice thing about being an artist is that my job is to enhance the good parts of a photo and paint away the flaws, so I don't have to be the world's best photographer. Thank goodness! :)

This is an example of that. Below are two photos I took from the photo shoot. In the first one, I thought the fox pup was adorably cute, peeking out of his den. I really wanted to paint him in that pose. The problem with that image was composition. I didn't want my subject (the fox pup) to be dead center. Not very exciting composition-wise.

In the second image, I liked the position of the fox and den better, being more off to the left, closer to the rule of thirds. I also liked the addition of foliage and shadows to the right, adding some interest. But, of course, this pup's pose was not nearly as cute.

In addition to the pose/composition not being ideal in either image, the colors were also a bit drab. The overall color was a rather boring, cool gray. I decided to do a little digital editing on my computer, combining the two images to get the best of both, and also enhance the color to give it a little more warmth. Here you can see I moved the cute-pose pup to the lower left and added the foliage to the right. Here's the result:

Ah, much better! Even with these digital enhancements it still wasn't exactly what I wanted. I thought the tangle of shadows on the lower right was a bit distracting, taking attention away from my adorable pup. Also, I liked the idea of the little green sprout in the front to tie in with the rest of the foliage, but I didn't like its position. So I cut out the shadows on the lower right, and I moved the little sprout over to the lower left to help balance the greens. Here's the final painting:

As for painting this with only the three primaries and white, it was a bit of a challenge at times, especially when it came to creating the darks and grays. There was more than one time I pulled some hair out. I'm glad I did it, though. I like the subtle color variations in the grays and shadows. And the darks and grays are richer and more vibrant than they would have been had I used black and Payne's Gray. I'm very pleased with the way this painting turned out. I think I will continue to try to do my paintings with limited palettes such as this.

I just hope my tube of Burnt Sienna will forgive me someday.

1 comment:

Brenda D. Johnson said...

Lovely subject and brilliant painting Crista.

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