Cedars on orange, 6" x 12"
In this experiment you’ll work on different colored grounds using the same photograph for each painting to see how the ground color affects the finished image. You’ll observe more clearly how much influence the ground can have on a painting once you try this.
Choose a simple photo that has good contrast and interesting colors. Cut your paper to the same size so that you aren’t trying to recompose the painting each time.
White paper is easy to find, as is a medium tone. However, you might want to try toning your own paper, which allows you to experiment with a variety of colored grounds. My method is simple. You can see just how I do it in CHAPTER THREE -- GETTING STARTED.
You might try some of the Pastelmat colors for this experiment.
|For more about Pastelmat visit www.pastelmat.com/|
Complete each painting separately, not side by side. Let each one come of your response to the ground. It’s not necessary to retain the same palette of colors for all three paintings. (If you do use the exact same palette, use a light touch that allows the ground color to be seen beneath the colors.) I prefer to allow each paper color to inspire me to use differing palettes. I usually find that light colors move me to use brighter colors, while darks result in richer colors that are deeper in tone. Very bright grounds make for a saturated colors – and sometimes a heavy hand as I desperately try to cover all that offending color.
Think of these as three paintings, not one painting done on three grounds. Let the color motivate you from the beginning, and try to analyze your responses to those first color choices. My observations on how I usually respond are below. Yours might be different.
White or very pale ground: Usually a white ground allows darker colors to harmonize quickly and intensifies pure colors. The light of the paper seems to glow through every color. Because it’s light, however, you need to nail your darks in place early. Take notice whether this light color inspires you to play with bright colors more, or if the lack of color bothers you.
|Cedars on white, 6" x 12"|
Black or very dark ground: Dark grounds instantly harmonize lighter colors, which is often the majority of a pastelist's palette. Depending on how dark or black the color the ground, you might notice that all of your light and medium-light colors look similar in value until you have covered most of the surface. You therefore need to pay attention to the medium values in this painting. Notice whether this ground color influences your color choices. Are you inclined to pick up more muted tones? Does the somber tone make you feel differently about the colors? Or do you prefer stronger contrasts as a result?
|Cedars on black, 6" x 12"|
Once you’ve completed all the paintings put them up and study them together. Don’t lightly go over this step; really study the images and decide what worked.
• Analyze what worked and why.
• What colors made for a more successful painting and why?
• Do you feel better about working on a light, medium or dark tone?
• How about vivid colors?
• What other ground color experiments do you think would be helpful?