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Learn to paint with color correctly and with confidence.
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How to Paint with Color
Hi there. Welcome to my studio and welcome to Mastering Color course. I’m Richard. I’ve been a Professional Painter since 2001 and --. I’ve been making these videos for the internet for a couple of years and it turned out really well, over 90,000 people have seen the videos so far. And I asked these people, what was the main problem that they have with painting? What was the biggest -- and an amazing 72% say that color was the biggest problem, so color is your biggest problem then join the club, you are in good company.
So I’ve got -- and I’ll do a painting lesson on color. But it was only when I started trying to write down exactly what I knew about color that I realized just how little I did know and how much I have been painting and doing my color work instinctually. So I started learning again.
I scoured the internet for months and months looking for the best online sources. And eventually I started teaching workshops where I used my guinea pig students to test out my new information and new teaching techniques and there they’re really learn what’s the best way to simplify this really complex subject. And help them learn in a very practical way.
What was really special to me was that moment when the light came on in their heads and they began to understand what I was showing them.
It completely turns around from being a real worry to being an adventure and real joy. So some of the stuff we’re going to cover in this course, there’s color theory, seeing color, describing color, values, mixing color, manipulating color, color harmony and light effects.
After years of struggle I have a real thorough understanding of color and how to use it with real conference and with paintings. So let’s get started with the history of color theory.
I think it’s important to know where we’ve come from in terms of our understanding of color so that we can see clearly where we are at the moment and know what discoveries led us to this point. I don’t want to bore you with the physics of light and everything. So I’ll just give you a brief overview and make sure that you know roughly how it all works. So we’ll not go reviewing something like what Plato first -- in his emanation theory that -- and gives rise to visual ray shooting outward from the eye interacting with the outer rays and thereby learning object to be seen.
Newton showed us in the 1700’s that what light from our sun contains all the colors of the spectrum. The ones you can see in a rainbow plus a whole bunch of others that we can’t see like ultraviolet and infrared. You then notice the similarity between red and violet at either end of the spectrum and join them together making a circle, the color wheel as we know it. This was the birth of modern color theory.
That knowledge didn’t become practically useful to artists until Michel Chevreul who managed the production of dyes for a French tapestry manufacturer made a remarkable discovery that an intense dye color would produce the appearance of color on surrounding neutral areas and that this new perceived color was almost directly opposite in the original color on Newton’s color wheel.
Keep your eye in the middle of the orange square for the next 20 seconds. You’ll see when I remove the square that a blue afterimage is formed in your eye, and blue just happens to be the complimentary color of orange, meaning it’s directly opposite orange on the color wheel.
Again in France the painter Eugene Delacroix used these new discoveries to further his realistic lighting effects. He learned things like red cloth has greenish shadows and the shadows of yellow objects had intensive violet on it. And doing this he was able to break way from classical dark backgrounds and the dull eternal treatment of shadows and introduced color into shadows effectively making the whole painting more vibrant.
He was later reported to say that “I can paint a skin of a goddess with mud provided you let me surround it with colors.” This is actually possible too. If you surround a warm gray with a strong blue it will actually resemble more Caucasian flesh.
The impressionist were inspired by Delacroix’s discoveries and aided by the invention of a wider range of more vibrate paints sold in easily transportable tubes, they painted outdoors in search for a more meaningful expression of natural lighting color. Instead there tinted paint in a -- key and add compliments to the lighter shadows. These artists included Monet, Renoir and Pissaro. In London at the same time Joseph Turner was exploring bold color and atmospheric effects which also had an effect on the work of the impressionists.
Meanwhile George Seurat developed a very technical approach to color. A painstaking method called pointillism which intended to make colors visually on the canvass rather on the palette. To make a green for example he would place a small stroke of blue beside one of yellow so that from a distance the two colors combine an eye to create a more vibrant green than what can be achieved by mix of color on a palette. This is in fact how a modern four-color printing press works, by placing tiny dots of pure color next to each other to create an image in the eye. The process is just two tasking for most artists though so pointillism as a movement didn’t last for very long.
Post impressionists like Paul Cezanne and Van Gogh learned the techniques of the impressionists but began to use color in a more emotional manner. They were less concerned with the external appearance of light and atmosphere than with emphasizing the beauty of pure color and light in a fairly flat picture plane.
Van Gogh felt that colors had symbolic meaning. To him yellow symbolized love and light, red and green conveyed passion and conflict; deep blue was the color of spiritual rest, and gray was associated with surrender.
Paul Cezanne’s later work can be seen as one of the bridges between the art of 19th century and the 20th century. He used color almost as a chisel to shape objects. He enjoyed the contrast of grayed color with saturated color. He wrote, “When the color achieves richness, the former paints its fullness also.” His work along with others inspired the cubists, expressionists and -- who all used color in an arbitrary fashion, no longer concerned with representing nature and their enriches but turning more to the inner world of the artist to draw inspiration from.
So post modernism was born and a gap of some hundred years ensued until today when we are seeing a resurgence in the academic popularity of representational at. Over that time though there have been added who have kept the flame alive and passed it along to their own students safeguarding the knowledge that was -- for many years. Some include rational painter Sergei Bongart, American Charles Hawthorne and Henry Hensche. So through all these artist’s efforts and many more we now have a good understanding of what we can achieve with color and painting. We are standing on the top of the mountain of discoveries and achievements and we’re now in the enviable position on having the knowledge and technology to achieve with paint, arrange in depth of color expression that was simply not possible in the past.
So the next chapters are going to walk you through discovering your own power with color so you too can climb up the mountain and see what the view is like from up there.