Monday, September 17, 2007

Learning Acrylics

My bed, my art station! ...LOL... (See photo. ...I just shove stuff to the side when I want to sleep!)
Acrylics, I suppose, can be separated into two endeavors: technique and color. One technique, I've been practicing is "sfumato," the gradual blending of one color onto or "into" another. Think of the appearance of airbrush, and you'll understand. But it's all BRUSHWORK. In the one photo here, notice the "bright star" effect on the right side of the little painting (NOT the lousy planet). That's my best sfumato effect so far; it really seems to "glow" like airbrush (or spray paint), although it's done totally with a sable brush. It's somewhat difficult to do smoothly, and requires a special technique and lots of practice. (The rest of that little painting is just "celestial experiments," really, no big deal.) ... But sfumato can be used with any color transition on any subject which needs that "smoky," smooth blend.
As for color, besides wrapping my brain around HUES (and their mixing) I'm also learning how to adjust VALUE in each of the hues ("colors"). To lighten, just add white (or, really, add the original hue TO white, which is more efficient usually). To darken, you can add black, but that will distort some hues (especially yellow, which will often turn green, since black has a great deal of blue as a component, e.g. mix ultramarine blue with burnt sienna for a nice black). So to darken, it's better to simply add darker versions of the hues. For instance, add yellow ochre to yellows (or add burnt umber for a really dark yellow); add thalo green to darken greens; alizarin crimson for reds... etc. This really works well. Note the photo of the color bars I did, practicing this stuff. ....
....Now, there's one more characteristic of color which is fundamental: CHROMA. I've always been confused by this concept, because it's a completely separate idea from VALUE, yet they're similar at first glance. But it's pretty simple, really. First, start with a hue (color), and then think of a gray (white mixed with a little black) but not just any gray. No, this gray must match the value of the hue. For instance, yellow has a light value, and red has a darker value, naturally, in their normal state. So, for a lemon yellow, mix a grey that is mostly white, you know, very light. And for a cadmium red, mix a darker grey, one which is the same "darkness" of value as the cad red. Now, to reduce the chroma of one of these hues (or, in other words, to make the hue DULLER) simply add some of the grey. And to make even duller? Just add more of the grey. But remember, you're NOT making the color darker (or lighter) when you do this. The color will remain at the same value, but will get progressively duller and grayer as you add more and more of the correct-valued gray. ... Does that make sense to anyone? LOL. ...Oh, well, I tried.
Anyway, that's what I've been up to this week.


Kenny Durkin said...

Rock on Tim. I love color theory, I took two semesters of it in college. But much like most of what I learned in school, I don't remember it very well. Thanks for the refresher course. Pretty sure I learned some new things from you too.

Tim Gardner said...

Thanks, Kenny.