Tuesday, November 6, 2012

F is for Fifty Shades of Grey

Limited palette pears with grey shadows
No, I am not writing about that book. Neither am I writing about the hair colors of my senior students. No, the fifty shades I am writing about today, are the amazingly beautiful greys I learned to mix in a recent Understanding Color class.

As an artist, the one area I feel quite confident about is my ability to use color. Of course, even a cursory look at my work makes it clear that I favor bright, jewel-like colors and lots of them. I rarely use greys, and, frankly, always thought of them as only shades comprised of black and white. So, the class on painting greys was quite surprising.

At least fifty shades of grey
Some of what I learned:
  • Greys have different temperatures, some are warm and some quite cool.
  • A grey mixture is not necessarily made of black and white, and for this lesson, could not be blended that way.
  • A grey will appear different within different contexts, such as against different backgrounds or against different-colored objects.
  • Greys may include bright colors, such as reds and violets.
  • Greys, when used as shadows should be mixed with the colors of the things they are shadowing.
  • A full spectrum of grey shades can be made by combining two complimentary colors, such as red and green, or violet and yellow, with various amounts of white.
 The chart on this page was the sampler I developed in class, following the rules above. Not only are the greys beautiful, but combining them results in a very harmonious palette.

The painting of the pears (16x20, acrylics on canvas) was done using the same limited palette as the greys - and the greys were mixed with the colors of the pears. Very interesting, and, on the wall, very soothing to look at.