Drawing

Every Artist Has a Color Theory

Every Artist Has a Color Theory


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What’s Your Color Theory?

When I ask friends and colleagues about landscape painting artists with the best use of color, the conversation gets downright heated. Mostly because there’s so much to consider when you look at each individual artist’s color theory or purpose he or she has for the painting.

Color schemes are going to vary depending on whether the artist wants to convey mood or expression; to capture the light or a time of day; or to craft a dynamic composition that is less about reality and more about creating a painting that visually holds together.

Below are four great examples of color usage from four great artists.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

I’m not sure how Corot did his color mixing, but I’m consistently amazed at how pearlescent his colors appear.

He rendered form tightly with the brush, but his colors were all about a delicate, natural unfolding.

Isaac Ilyich Levitan

I think if I’d had Levitan’s eyes, I would know what true color is. That’s what I think of when I look at his work.

His colors are so pure that it almost seems like he was painting with colored glass.

Camille Pissarro

To convey a time of day or year with the skill that Pissarro possessed was all about seeing light when mixing colors. Looking at any one of his works, you get the sense of a chill in the air or an overcast shadow to the sky.

Pissarro believed in painting in the natural settings he found in the outdoors.

James McNeill Whistler

An incredible atmosphere envelopes all of Whistler’s nocturnes. They go from murky to jewel-toned, shadowed yet pierced with searing light.

His color theory was all about building form through the arrangement of color that is beautiful and compelling — but may not necessarily be true to what is found in the natural world.

One thing that sets an artist’s color abilities above the rest is his or her ability to paint light with color. With light comes form, depth and power on the canvas.

Are you as excited at the prospect of painting light with color as I am? If so, consider Capturing Light Color: Landscape in Pastel with Alain Picard. It is a feast for those of us who love color and light and how the two come together. Be sure to check out the preview trailer below for a sneak peek of this video. Enjoy!


Watch the video: Colour Theory for Painters (May 2022).