Of necessity this will become a series of posts. Books can be and have been written about colour, what it is and why we use it the way we do. I have even read articles about graphite paintings, otherwise known as pencil drawings, extolling their colour. Quite evidently this is a subject that is fraught with the possibility of misunderstanding.
For me, and the purpose of these posts, I quite deliberately focus upon the landscape and what we see before us when we go outside to paint. Again, I am not at this stage going to write about unusual or extreme cases. They may well be examined later in subsequent posts. For now I am choosing to ignore twilight, moonlight, dawn and misty days, all of which I have painted in the past and probably will do so again in the future.
Rather I will take for my prime case that well lit subject “The nice day.” Most of us when heading outdoors to paint tend to hope for a gentle, well lit and picturesque subject in temperate mild conditions. No rain, no wind, and a minimum of irritating insects. Under those conditions we expect to see a pleasant range of colour from the blue skies above us to the green grass before us.
This is what I refer to as a question of colour. As artists are we bound to record as accurately as possible the colours before us? If we take liberties with composition and what we choose to include or leave out, should not this also include colour? Is it about colour matching, or colour harmony? If we consider that we are conveying some truth of what is before us, does not this imply that emphasising some aspect and minimising another part of this clarification?
The painting above this post is the initial block in of my latest painting, “The Road Goes Ever On.” The actual scene is blue sky, green grass. I chose to begin using basic earth colour: Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and Ivory Black. This is a very subdued version of the basic three colour palette, red, yellow blue. It has the power and drama that I sought for its initial statement.