Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the secret to color harmony is grey

7x8 pastel on Uart
Grey or neutral colors are probably the number one most important tool for making a painting work. In oil it's easy to neutralize color. In pastel you have to choose the right family grey or layer to make your own grey. Oftentimes pastel sets include so many luscious colors- pure hues, like candy. They really should be used more as the frosting, not the cake. A really good set of greys is made by Girault.  They have sets of 25 and 50. Layering to make greys, and using the underpainting as a warmer greyer tone work well too.

Here is a photo of my box. A Heilman backpack box, it has two rows of greys, green and cool greys and warmer greys. There is a tiny section (at the bottom of the blues) for the lightest values possible..white with a tiny bit of color.

Today I was walking to Starbucks and noticed that this small "landfill" hump of land had remained unmowed all summer. Yipee! Queen Anne's Lace, blue chicory and wonderful wild grasses. . My focal point was that wonderful place where the flowers met the tree. The mall looming in the background became one splotch of neutral color.
Below is a tiny study I made while the underpainting was drying on the top painting.
I will definitely return here.
Oh, and just to let you know, good news, part one of Marla Baggetta's interview will be Monday. mmmmmm good.

11 comments:

Donna T said...

Thank goodness you have the gift to see beyond things like malls looming in backgrounds. This is so serene and beautiful and I'm glad you found some lace!!!

Casey Klahn said...

Here is an excellent post! Someday I'll mention my gray organizer, but today I'll just admire this beauty. The first thing I noticed was a harmonized (but varied( group of subtle marks - just so. And the value is the same: perfectly calm.

I admire this one.

Interesting box set up. Analytical (like Richard) and I am surprised at how many grays you employ.

loriann said...

Hi Donna,
That lace and chicory was a real surprise...just a 5 minute's walk from my house. Have you seen any good lace fields up your way?
Thanks for your comment!

Hi Casey,
Thanks you so much...I am really humbled by your comment.
And for you....a grey organizer????? hmmmmmm. Tell me more!
I guess you really wouldn't know just how many greys I use...I guess that is the point right..no one else but a grey user like us notices it. They truly are the great unifiers. I know you agree when I see your work..
As for the box set-up, I am definitely influenced by Richard, although to him, my box is disorganized and unclean. It's the best I can do.
It's funny the greys are slowly taking over my box..a few years ago it was only one row..then they multiplied like rabbits. In the studio I have a whole box just for them!
Thanks !

Nika said...

I like the light and thoughtful feel of this one. It feels so natural, no struggle. As if it just flowed onto the paper.
You leave me hopeful with your ability to find these little enclaves scattered among the suburban jungle.
And thanks for showing us your box, looks like you also "never met a violet you didn't like" :))

loriann said...

Hi Nika,
You make me laugh...never met a violet I didn't like!!! HeeHee. Is it that noticeable? I guess I never quite thought about it that way!
As far a beauty scattered in the suburban jungle...it's there, with our help others will see it too. This one really surprised me. I wish they would just ditch all the mowers in the world and let it all go wild!
Thanks so much about the painting!
PS Before I left for Washington I painted my bathroom a deep magenta violet. What a shock to my husband when he returned home that day. I love it! So dramatic! Just a whim...a violet family whim.

Brian McGurgan said...

Beautiful mark-making here Loriann and I love the composition and soft tones. It's a pleasure seeing your pastel box nicely organized by hue and value - and I chuckled at those little light pieces tucked away in the cool, dark blue corner!

SamArtDog said...

Grey (or gray--which is it?) may be taking over your boisterous palette, but it's still inside of you, occasionally exploding. Like onto your bathroom walls! It actually sounds quite lovely. And like peach-colored lampshades, it probably makes you look really good!

Jala Pfaff said...

But what about those of us who've always eaten the frosting first?

You're very organized.

Lovely painting, as ever.

loriann said...

Hi Brian, It's good to hear from you again! I am glad I gave you a chuckle. I bet you wonder why I would put the little light pieces there instead of integrating them into their mother hue. The answer- is to remind me (and they do stick out) to use them...especially in the sky. I need to have a lightest light and normally that is the sky. Working on toned paper can make that harder. A little crutch.
Thanks about the mark making!

Hi Sam! Gray or grey, it's still the same color, right???..well sort of because there are a thousand grey/grays.
Peach colored lampshade, now that sounds good.

Hey Jala, what about us that ONLY eat the frosting and dislike cake? I still think it's the same. Thank you for saying I am organized...I TRY real hard, but if you could see my car, studio, house, you would know there is still work to be done! heh.
Thank you about the painting!

Sara Mathewson said...

I just love your work and have to agree with Casey that this is an excellent post. I love seeing other pastelists pastel boxes, how they are set up. It inspires me. I have a lot of grays too but no girault grays. They are one of the next purchases I have been contemplating. there are always more purchases on the horizon with pastels:) i just bought the Dianne Townsend thinline plein air box and the 1/2 stick set of Schminckes that Dakota is selling. I'm loving the DT thinlines! I'm sure I will love all of her lines. i thought this was a good way to try hers out. Good colors too.

Anyway, I so enjoy getting your posts in my email everyday:)

loriann said...

Hi Sara, It's funny how we pastelist love to peek in another pastelist's box. I love doing it too. Fascinating!
DT has some beautiful colors, I must say I am sucker for her terrages and her thinlines. Giraults are great and so multipurpose. I think they are one of the best for plein air- hard and soft at the same time. Try the 25 or 50 grey set. You will fall in love.
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