This week I continued with the project from my previous post and made 6 more paintings. Please read the previous post if you haven’t, it explains the study. Before I show the paintings though I want to take a look at the color in these paintings, and analyze them a little bit, maybe we can learn some generalities from it. As I said last time, these paintings are referenced from video screen shots. I then sampled some colors from one of the screen shots and put them by the side of the canvas and sampled from them as I worked. I thought I’d show what that set up looks like:
On the left you can see my palette, and on the right is the base layer that all of these paintings are painted on top of. Each row of color corresponds to a particular part of the painting, the third row for example are colors from the sea foam. I will refer to these as “color ramps”. That is, a range of colors from dark to light the correspond to a particular object. Notice that they are not simple gradients from light to dark of a particular hue, but rather, the hue and saturation change along with the value. Primarily, I only used those colors on the side for all of the paintings, but there are some instances when I would take one of those colors and then tweak it slightly by shifting the hue, saturation, or value to more closely match my reference. Now as we know, the way a color is perceived is always dependent on its surrounding color. So rather than look at these colors isolated like this, lets look at a more analytical view of them.
This is what the color picker in MyPaint looks like. You can change the hue by spinning the wheel, and change the saturation, and value by moving the dot inside the triangle. In the corners of the triangle lie white, black, and the pure saturation of the selected hue, and the colors in between blend between those three extremes. The top row are colors picked for the background rocks. The bottom row, for the foreground rocks. The background rocks have a smaller value range, because as objects recede into the distance, atmospheric perspective builds up and makes further things hazier. The further an object is, the less contrast it will have, and the closer its hue and value will be to the color of the sky. Maybe I can talk about this more at a later time. Anyway we can see that the colors are more or less a de-saturated orange, but interestingly the hue shifts a bit towards yellow as it gets darker.
Speaking of the sky, lets take a look at it. Given that all the paintings are painted on top of a canvas filled with the color of the sky, its a really important thing to consider. In other words, all the other colors are placed on top of the sky color and thus will be perceived relative to it. While it just looks like a grey, its actually a very de-saturated yellow. This is important, as that yellow will help all the greens in the water read as slightly more blue, because as we’ll soon see, there’s almost no blue in these paintings, really. The effect is pretty subtle but still significant I think. Here’s a more dramatic way to explain color relativity: Green is a color between yellow and blue. If you have a picture that is just green next to blue, then that green is the most yellow thing in the picture. However, if you have just green next to yellow, then that same green is the most blue thing in the picture.
This picture shows the colors of the water. The top row is the shallower water seen more towards the foreground, and the bottom row the deeper water seen mostly in the background. Obviously there’s no blue here. The color shifts from light, medium, dark, as orange to yellow to green. Simply moving along the color wheel in order. I think its quite interesting. The color is quite de-saturated so the large steps in hue are less noticeable. The middle value, the yellow, is also the grayest. The yellow gray mid-tone helps the green shadows appear bluer. The orange color is used somewhat sparingly, but where it is, it emphasizes the blue in the colors around it.
These colors are the foam of the waves. I think this is the most interesting part. The lights are peach rather than white, the mid-tone almost a gray, and as it gets darker moves more towards blue. While the color never reaches blue, it is perceived to be blue as it is the most blue thing in the paintings, and also because it contrasts strongly against the peach. The lightest color is the most saturated, then as it moves towards the mid-tones becomes increasingly more grayish. As it moves towards the darks the saturation begins to go back up. The two darkest colors are also used in the water where I needed bluer colors. Having the lightest color not be white helps set the lighting of the scene, and establishes the tonal range of the painting. The scene on a whole is darkish, kind of overcast, so having a bright white might seem out of place in the context of the lighting. It also allows the lights to more saturated, and contrast against the more gray areas of the back drop via saturation and hue, rather than simply contrasting by value. In some areas where the wave was splashing and the light was really hitting I had to use a slightly brighter color but I found that making the color too light would de-saturate it too much and make it look out of place against the rest of the splash. Its important to note that changing any aspect of a color (its hue, saturation, or value) necessarily will affect the other two in some way.
Because this post is already somewhat long I decided to put the paintings into a separate post.