Sunday, May 04, 2008

Stages of Creation: Part 3

Step 3: Cultivation Stage

Now that I have the idea or concept and a composition is drafted, I can explore color! Color is a very important factor to my paintings. It is probably the main thread that connects all my varied styles of art. I am drawn to saturated colors. I like rich, vibrant colors that are still natural and not too garish. This is probably why spring and autumn are my favorite seasons, as they tend to be the two most colorful seasons.

The purpose of this stage is to determine the color palette that best suits the piece. The colors I choose are not only part of a visual aesthetic, but should also match the theme and concept of the particular piece. Color not only reflects the world we see, but it can also evoke mood, create atmosphere, and act as symbols. I try to incorporate all these in varying degrees in each of my paintings.

In this stage, I will create a color sketch of the painting. First, I transfer the drawing onto paper, then I will start to paint the image using the colors I think will work best for the piece. I am not as concerned with detail or exactness of the image. I am focusing mainly on color relationships. While I am painting, I keep track of the colors I use and think are right for the piece by making a small color palette on a separate sheet of paper.

One of the side benefits of doing a color sketch is that I get a second chance to see if the composition works. In the case of the Goose painting here, I realized once I started adding the trees in the background, that the painting was feeling too cramped. So, in the final painting, I will get rid of the trees and leave an open sky with a low horizon. Now the goose can breathe!

Often, while I work on the color sketch, I make notes to myself about the piece. For example, on the Goose painting, I didn't like how dark the grass was behind the black-berry bush, so I made a note to lighten the green in the final painting. I might make suggestions about altering the composition, adjusting a color, or adding or subtracting details.

The tools I use here are:
On the left side:
Colored pencils for coloring small details or fine lines
Permanent marker for writing comments on the color test.
Paper for testing out colors.

In the Center:
Bottles of Ink.
Bottle of blending medium for mixing with the ink to keep it from drying too fast. (Once ink is dry it is permanent and nearly impossible to make corrections.)
Color Palette of selected colors for the final painting.
Color Sketch.

On the Right Side:
My cup of tea. (I am back to black tea here, as this part of the process doesn't require any careful brush strokes.)
More bottles of ink.
Jar of water.
Small containers for storing newly created colors. (Sometimes I have to combine two or more ink colors together to create my own color mixtures. It is much easier to make large quantities at one time to make sure the color is consistent in one painting.)
Dropper for mixing colors.
Ceramic palette for mixing colors.
Paper towel for absorbing excess water and pigment from brushes and for clean-up.

Once I get the colors right and have a good color palette created. It is on to the next step: the Creation Stage


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