Sunday, January 1, 2012

A limited color palette

Last week I started work on another one of my recent landscape shots, one of the Tualatin River near the historic community of Willamette on an overcast afternoon. I worked on it for a few sessions, trying to make something I liked out of it. In the end I felt happy with the colors I got, and some of the brushwork, but it still falls way short of what I'd like to be able to do. I was looking at one of my favorite books on painting, Ted Goernschner's "The Workshop Experience" and decided I want to do some experimenting with limited color palettes. I wanted to reuse the same composition, using a split complementary color scheme of yellow, red-violet and blue-violet. For the first time, I succeeded in getting some photos of the painting process. I only did one session a day on this, as I needed to take that much time between sessions to screw up my courage and go forward with these rather unfamiliar colors.

The first session was limited to blocking in the larger masses, except for the tree foliage on the left. Not sure why, but I left that till last.

In the second session I worked on the background, the foreground, and the shrub and tree structures.

In the last session, I finally laid down the tree foliage and made a few more adjustments in the shrubs in the foreground.

I'm going to stop here for now, even though it doesn't look finished to me. I want the colors to soak into my brain for a while. Maybe they'll help me grow some new brain cells that aren't bogged down in a rut. I keep thinking of something Carolyn Lewis said in her video, about painting from photos: "Make your painting look better than the photograph."

And by the way, Happy 2012, and I hope it's a great year for everyone!


  1. Love, Love, Love the color combination. It looks so impressionistic. What a challenge you gave yourself, but I would say from an artistic point of view, it looks better than a photograph. If the values are correct you can paint anything any color. I do beleive you got it right!

  2. I really think you're on to something here Patty! Beautiful :)

  3. Thank you, Ruth! I'm working on some more different combos. I'm also finding examples of other limited combinations which I really like that don't follow the formulas. I think I'll be playing here for a while.... Hope you have a great workshop this weekend. Looks like you're going to have a little good weather, at least! -Patty