Playing with colour and finding new marks

Playing with colour using oil pastels
Playing with colour using oil pastels

One of my favourite activities is playing with colour and finding new marks to help convey what I am trying to say in my paintings.

Picking Colours

Keeping it simple I try to pick just 2 key colours, often complementary but also an analogous pair. Variations of orange and blue or purple and yellow are some of my go to colour choices. Firstly mix a number of combinations of these with white and with each other to create a lovely range of colours which work well together. Then I just play with these colours and make marks.

Mixing colours
Mixing colours that go together well
monoprint created with mixed inks
Monoprinting using intaglio inks and playing with colour choices

This process creates a mood or texture of the colours I like. Layering them to create muted and de-saturated areas. These often turn out beautifully just on their own or can be a starting pint for further development.

Monoprint created with orange and greens using ink rollers
Monoprint created with orange and greens using ink rollers

Playing freely I can produce a lot of prints with great variety of marks and tonal values. This allows you to be less precious with each piece and often creates something new you weren’t expecting.

Working into my monoprints and finding new marks

Once dried, torn pieces or neatly cut out areas are used in collages. They can be drawn into with different types of media which produce different types of marks.

Soft pastel can be rubbed with your fingers to create a coloured haze over an area to make it softer or push it back.

Oil pastels produce an intense coloured mark, dense but with texture. I often  scratch and scrape oil pastel marks to make even more texture.

Graphite is a wonderful mark maker. I like to play with a variety of graphite pencils and sticks, thick and thin, soft and hard to create different marks.

Acrylic inks will create intense coloured areas and I enjoy using them with sponges, brushes or pens, or just splashed or dripped.

Acrylic paint pens, which are available in millions of colours and thicknesses. My work often features fine expressive lines and I use post pen for this. You can also create bold opaque marks of colour with the lush fat marker pens.

The possibilities are endless…

Monoprint enhanced with oil and soft pastels and graphite marks
Monoprint enhanced with oil and soft pastels and graphite marks

Sketchbooks – Just pretty or really useful for artistic development.

FB link to sketchbook video

I didn’t used to ‘do’ sketchbooks, but I find them such a great way to store ideas and experiments now that I always have a few on the go.

  • Drawing practice
  • Larger one for collages from outdoor sketches
  • printing experiments & notes
  • I currently I have one storing my 100days project too

How useful are they really ?

  1. Resources for future finished work. When I’m starting a new painting or print perhaps, I can flick through my sketchbooks to find an image or even a few images that I want to use as a starting point.
  2. I find them really useful as reminders of ideas I had previously and now forgotten so that if desired they can be reincorporated into new work. It’s amazing how many good ideas are forgotten if not documented. You don’t even need to write it up in great detail, as just some elements of it will serve to bring the whole of it back.
  3. Reflecting and reviewing where I’ve been and where I’m going is such a useful process that I’ve only recently discovered the benefits of. It helps to see your own progress and also find links between what might appear very different work. These can be great clues to pointing to underlying themes or characteristics of my work that I might want to really dig into as a way of finding my own artistic voice. Using as a reviewing tool with another, mentor, teacher, fellow artist, is also an excellent process, often identifying properties you’d not noticed in your work.
  4. Using a sketchbook which has been the resource for a series of paintings helps me to talk and explain my work with potential buyers, followers. This is really important when connecting with people new to my work so that they can really quickly appreciate where it’s coming from. It’s a great idea to take them to exhibitions. I know I really love to see the ‘internal workings’ of an artist through their sketchbooks and can significantly change my appreciation of their work.
  5. But yes they can also be great to look at aesthetically and why not. Mine often cheer me up when I’m feeling negative about my abilities, and it’s lovely to share them with likeminded folk.😉

Albers Interaction of Colour app for iPad

Check out #AlbersIoC! Get the app

Juliet Docherty, a fabulous artist and educator whom I recently spent the day with on a colour theory course reminded me of this app. I had down loaded a free check it out version previously but not spent much time with it. I have purchased the full version now, which gives you the full text of the book it’s based on plus some really cool interactive colour plates you can move colour sections about on and the ability to make your own colour plates using his clever formats and save them as an image or vector file.

It is fabulous teaching tool for your own colour theory adventures – highly recommended.