Basics and Color

July 19, 2013

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Homemade color wheel, approximately 3″ x 3″ 

I made this color “wheel” a few years ago during a one-on-one lesson with a new student from my Watercolor Workshops.  We were going through the primaries and how the other colors were made from them.  I found this little scrap of watercolor paper and painted the colors and numbered them.  The primaries I numbered with “1”, the secondaries “2”, the tertiaries “3”.  This was all new information to my student, an adult, who hadn’t learned it in grade school.  She had gone through her whole life until then not knowing something that is an elemental building block of information, not only to making art, but I think to life.  

This happens more frequently than I had ever thought.  I have been teaching more frequently lately, in the local Jr. College’s community education, to teens at a local library in an after school program, and in my Every Other Saturday Watercolor Workshops.  I’m amazed and sad that art is less and less a part of primary and secondary education.  So soapbox time!  

Kids need to be introduced to art early, so they have the experience of being artistic, creative, think inductively.  And because its documented that art especially helps young brains think more creatively.  There’s so much information available about this, about how art helps people to think in alternative pathways.  Art was a regular part of my primary education, regularly in elementary school, and then I took ceramics for all but one semester of my four years of high school.  I ended up a painter, but though I don’t work in clay any longer, there are things I know from those hours of potting that still inform my art.

So now I have my students paint their own color wheels using their own watercolors. Yes, you can buy very functional color wheels in an art store, but there’s nothing like the experience of creating a new color by mixing two others, or layering one transparent color over another one, to make a third color.  And it lets them know what colors the paints in their palettes will be able to make. Oh the discoveries they’ll make!  

I kept the color wheel I painted, its pinned to the wall next to where I paint.  Not because I need it, but to remind me of the basics, and how fun it is to open others’ horizons about color.    

 

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“Still Life in Yellows” ©Jill Rosoff 2012  5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″

Today I set aside just to make art.  And I cooked a little too, which sort of counts, cooking is also about making something.  But primarily I worked on art, with “soundtrack” of the Olympics playing in the background.  No business, no marketing, just all drawing and painting.  

One of the things I did today is that I finished this small painting.  I started it in June as a demonstration in one of my workshops, I wanted to play with the idea of all the objects in the painting being variations of a single color, like a one note melody:  sing “Long Tall Sally” to yourself, see what I mean?   On this one day we had all these yellow objects that people had brought in to the workshop  to use as subjects for their paintings.  The idea literally presented itself, right there in front of me, to make a composition of the different colors of yellow.  So I blocked in the pepper, the lemons and the bananas.  Then I rendered them using glazes and dropping-in color, which is also referred to as ‘charging’ (ok, a vision of the battles in the movie ‘Braveheart’ just came to mind as I wrote that–this is the way my brain works).

I decided to complete it using versions of primary colors–there were the three yellows: rich warm, bright and cool, and a little lighter and muted, plus a warm violet as the blue for all the shadows and the background, and a diluted Winsor Red became a warm pink, which also turned orangy glazed over the yellow.  Oh and a bit of green for the pepper’s stem, and on the bananas.  The fun result is that even with those few colors, it’s a pretty rich palette.  

Its available for purchase on my Etsy shop.  

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