Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wheel of (mis)Fortune

Does anyone else here collect color wheels?



Am I alone in this obsession?

As I stumble along trying to teach myself the many nuances of color use and theory, I have amassed a fairly sizeable collection of color wheels: The Quiller Wheel, the Artell Wheel, Nita Leland's Color Wheel, Harley Brown and Margaret Kessler's versions of the Munsell Color Wheel, Bruce MacEvoy's Handprint Color Wheel, just to name a few.

And. Every. Single. One. Is. Different.

Some slightly different.  Some majorly different.  And it initially drove me crazy.  Why wasn't there ONE darn color wheel?

When I first started this little artistic expedition, I was turning out little works that couldn't possibly be called art that even the dogs refused to look at.  I knew I needed help, and lots of it, and I wanted to find some answers.  Being impatient when it comes to these things, I wanted sinple, straightforward answers on how to improve my artwork.  I wanted to create good art NOW.   I wanted to find a book or a class that would say "Here.  Here's everything you need to know.  Here's the steps you take to create the perfect composition.  Here's the colors you should use on your palette, and how you should use them.  Here's how to create great art.  Start at Step 1, and go on from there."

Phooey.  I never did find that book, and never will, but I read many, many good ones in the interim.   It's taken a few years just to start figuring out some of the answers to some of the questions.  Just figuring out the difference between the typical triadic color wheel, and the Munsell version of the color wheel gives me a small personal thrill.  So I read, and I research, and I study, and I practice, and I busily collect the basic tools and rules, and file them away under "Things I Think I've Figgered Out".

A lot if it is about how very personal art is.  How we do it.  How we view it.  Our preference of mediums, supports, subjects, and styles.  Some painters use the three primary colors and white as their palette, some use more than fifty different colors.  Even if we all used the exact same palette in the exact same medium, our art would still be individual. It's whatever works for each artist, however they get there, whatever diverse and different paths they take. With every piece, a little bit of each artist is transformed into the physical world. Understanding this, and seeing that little bit of each artist makes the viewing that much more interesting. I always thought it would be interesting to be a traditional animation artist. Wouldn't it be fascinating to see characters you've drawn on paper actually come to life on a screen, complete with voices and personalities, lives and adventures?  It has a certain draw to it (no pun intended).

OK, I'm done waxing philosophic.  While exploring the Interwebs, I came upon two artists who use their respective palettes brilliantly. Mario Mirkovich creates incredible, classically composed landscapes with beautiful colors. Beverly Wilson also creates incredible landscapes and figures, in the style of the "California Colorists".  What fabulous stuff!  Give me a few seconds to put my eyes back in my skull and stop drooling all over my keyboard.  I would love to experiment with the "California Colorist" colors, it's a beautifully luminous palette.

Another favorite artist, Katharine Cartwright (check out her "Eggshell" series) is starting a new blog called "The Twenty Minute Challenge".  In this challenge, you start with a blank piece of paper, set a timer for twenty minutes, and draw or paint something in your surroundings.  It has to be painted from life, and when the timer goes off, it's done.  No going back.  Sounds like a great exercise for those of us who have short attention spans, and need to learn how to make every brushstroke count.  I know that doing "exercises" like these could help me tremendously, but I find myself whining and making excuses not to do them.  Time to suck it up, take twenty minutes, and maybe even learn a thing or two.

My Muse is digging through the kitchen junk drawer trying to find the timer.  To achievability, and beyond!

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