Wednesday, March 21, 2012

thinking about neutrals

unfinished piece of larger painting (oil)
9x18 pastel on watercolor (plein air)
Now, more about neutrals. After last week's post about neutrals I received an email.  "why are neutrals so important? In short, neutrals create harmony. Beautiful neutrals or grays are created by mixing the perfect amount of the opposing colors on the color wheel-complementary colors. What that means is you have a little bit of each of the primaries in that neutral.  Balance and harmony. The landscape is really made up of many neutrals with some small bits of intense chroma thrown into the mix.
When painting with all intense color it becomes's like a room full of loud voices and you don't know who  to listen to. Neutrals are the small conversations that make you lean in to know more.
In oils it is so easy to control and understand neutrals, but in pastel you have to understand what is in each stick since you have not mixed it. Having an abundant supply of neutral pastels is encouraged. You can also mix your own neutrals by layering the right value of the complementary color of pastel on top. Or using your underpainting and layering on that.
One of the secrets of neutrals is simultaneous contrast.....I will save that for next time.


Deborah Elmquist said...

Spot on about neutrals and I also love the analogy comparing it to loud voices.

Anonymous said...

Hi Loriann,
Very good advice about the use of neutrals in landscape painting. I am going to write this down and post it on my easel. I have enjoyed viewing your paintings & reading your blog posts the last few weeks. Have a
creative spring painting season!


loriann signori said...

Thanks Deborah! You KNOW your neutrals!

Thanks for stopping by NJ! And thank you too about my recent posts. Have a wonderful warm Spring!