Thursday, April 21, 2011

why use a dominant color?

8x8 pastel on Uart, plein air last summer
4x8 pastel on Uart, today's plein air
 Since saying that I would write about dominant color I have been doing  quite a lot of thinking and organizing of my thoughts. Above you see two paintings each with a clear dominant color.  When you choose the colors for your painting you do so with thought as to which color scheme you want: complementary, split complementary, triad, analogous, and monochromatic. After deciding on your scheme you next choose which color or color family will dominate. It's important to remember that all colors need to be present (some in a very limited form, or completely grayed) in order to have balance in a landscape. The one (dominant) color can appear pure (above ) or neutralized (below.) If another color begins to creep take over, you have to restrict it, even if it is in the's the two divas rule.
The bottom line: having a dominant color makes for more harmonious paintings.

Oil and watercolor painters will often choose a "mother color" and add that in large or very limited amounts to each color. This too creates harmony. Both pastelist and other painters can use the underpainting to unify the whole. I often "lean" my colors to the dominant side. For instance if I see blue, but my dominant color is violet (and dominant temperature is warm) I will lean towards violet.
Please add your thoughts for dominant color n the comments section. I am certainly not the authority...just sharing what I know.

That's it for now...I have to go off to teach my wonderful 5s. We are once again outdoors painting. I leave you with Luchianna in climbing mode.


Donna T said...

Loriann, you are sharing some valuable information! Two words from today's post hit me (in a good way!): "you choose." I realize that I must give much more thought to the color scheme and not just obediently paint what I see. Harmony doesn't just happen on its own. Thank you!

loriann said...

Hi Donna,
Thanks for your comment! It is amazing how we forget we ARE in charge of the painting, especially plein air painters. I am happy that the words that help me each day can help someone else.

Caroline said...

Hi Loriann, I find myself working towards balance in my paintings, my work used to be stronger in colour tones in the past but now my oils are moving towards more harmony meaning that the colours sit together gently and light brings the contrasts together. I am back to finishing a painting by adding a final glaze of perhaps one or up to three colours which are transparent to give the harmony to the painting.

loriann said...

Hi do you mean," the colours sit together gently and the light brings the contrast together. Thanks too for mentioning the final glaze method of harmonizing colors. I really appreciate your thoughtful comment.

Caroline said...

Hi Loriann, I am using more greys and even the pinks and blues are very pale in comparison to the colours which were much bolder in the past. I used to like to place a very dark colour next to the light. I now graduate colours so that darks are softer. The lightest part of the painting is often painted palest cream and the amount of white in a sky is less a pure white and more a cream or rose white. I hope that explains things better. It can be hard to find the right words to discribe a painting process.

Adam Cope said...

dominant colour paintings tend to be harmonious, n'est pas

loriann said...

You are so right Adam!