Friday, January 7, 2011

Sheep Mountain - Colors

I picked up a copy of Jim Gurney's new book a while back, and it has proven to be one of my better book purchases. Had Color and Light been my college Color Theory textbook, I am certain I would be many times more confident with color than I am today. Well, it didn't exist back then, but now that I have read it, I decided I need to give it's lessons a go.

I thought that the sheep mountain piece would be a perfect opportunity to try out some of Jim's sound advise on how to handle both light and color. I started with a small color study, and decided to implement two of the color restrictions Mr. Gurney outlines in his book. The first is a simple color gamut based on the Yurmby wheel. For those of you unfamiliar with the Yurmby wheel (as I was until I read the book), it is a color wheel that employs six primaries of both the print and light spectrums: RGB and CMY. The wheel goes like this: Yellow, Red, Magenta, Blue, Cyan, Green. It provides a much fuller range of colors than is allowed with the standard Red-Yellow-Blue color wheel. Anyway, my color gamut looks like this:

(the image was made using photos of the wheels in Jim's book)

The idea behind the gamut is to limit the number of colors you allow yourself, in order to create a strong unity in the piece, and as a safeguard against overwhelming the viewer with too many colors. It also is a quick way to develop a strong mood in the piece. My gamut for this painting is fairly neutral, with the strongest chroma falling somewhere between pure blue and pure cyan.

The other method I am employing to limit myself is to use a very limited pallet. The only tubes of paint I am using are Vermilion, French Ultramarine, Cadmium Yellow light, and Titanium White. This is a huge hurdle for me to jump. I am really used to using about 10-15 different tubes of paint on any given painting, and cutting back to only three colors, plus white was a huge challenge. The color study for the painting turned out pretty ok though, and I am excited to get cracking on the actual piece. Here's the study (sorry about all the white spots, photographing canvas with overhead fluorescents is a bitch):

Oh, and I didn't forget about the self-portrait, I just am not at a point with it that I am ready to post anything. Maybe after the weekend.


Joycer said...

I've been looking for a good color theory book! Thanks for sharing! The palette you chose worked out really well here.

Ryan Brady said...

I've been meaning to pick up a copy of Gurney's book as well - you're one of the many people to mention how great it is. But then again, if you have the modern day norman rockwell putting out a book, its bound to be amazing.

Anyway, the rough looks pretty solid. Are you approaching this more in an alla prima style? Those clouds are looking nice too by the way!

Matt said...

Not sure if I am going to go full alla prima, but I do intend to do direct painting. I tend to enjoy it a lot more then glazing, and it is a hell of a lot faster. I still don't have enough brush-control to do a good alla prima, and I want this one to turn out good.