If last week was all about value, then this week has been all about colour.
After a few months of consolidation I feel like I am in the middle of another period of development in my art practice. I’ve been aware over the last three months or so that I’ve not been as keen to go into the studio, the work hasn’t been flowing quite as easily and I’ve been feeling slightly dissatisfied with the paintings I have been making. Reflecting on this, it seems that I’ve not been that excited by what I have been making. It hasn’t felt that new, but more of a variation on a theme that began about a year ago. And I haven’t quite known how to change that.
So I have been thinking, and painting and getting feedback, and painting and thinking some more. And then I watched one of Nicholas Wilton’s short videos on Colour and something clicked. I already had knowledge and awareness of how to de-saturate colour to reduce it’s intensity. As we do this the colours adjacent will then be seen with greater contrast. But like many things that are part of ongoing learning and development we can come at something we think we already know and with a new context experience it differently. We can find a different perspective and discover something new or that we hadn’t quite grasped. Sometimes we experience a greater level of understanding and integration. So, the video was something of a light bulb moment as several things fell into place and I understood why I’d not been liking my work. I began to get some ideas about how to change it.
Working with Limited Palette
Firstly I had been working with limited palettes. Generally no more than three colours, with variations of light and dark.
I had also been wanting to bring in a sense of space and simplicity to the design of my work. But because the colours were so limited, the paintings were feeling too simple. As a result I was then using lots of texture to compensate and create more interest. Resulting in work that was beginning to feel the same or certainly very similar.
When I did use more colours, because I was working with paint that was only slightly de-saturated the work would feel garish. And rather than think to de-saturate the colour further, I would paint over it and go back to the limited palette. And round again.,
So, armed with a greater understanding I have playing with de-saturating colour and it has felt very different. I think I have a lot still to learn about how to do this, make it work effectively with how I paint. Design takes on a whole new set of exciting challenges. I definitely feel a sense of lightness and space that wasn’t so easy to attain before. And I am experimenting in new ways with new ideas.
Does this experience sound familiar to you? Have you found something in your art practice that you revisit and gain new understanding each time?
See some of my work at the Chatsworth Exhibition during January and February with Peak District Artisans.
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