As a visual artist I continue to challenge my courage for color. I love color, period. Well, is there such thing as too much color? Is it ever more appropriate to use color than not?
I truly love to dance with color whereas color field artists conduct an orchestra with it. Perhaps how color is used is solely dependent on the composition and emphasis of the piece—even though the artist may never voice this. How many artists exist that do not know what colors they will choose at first—but decide along the way? Others know from the start that it will be all about color and plan the piece based on the colors they want to use. One color field artist friend of mine loves ‘playing’ with paint and is always reworking and changing colors. Still some experiment—the first colors chosen are for swapped out for different ones—adopting a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude (hey, why not you can always gesso over mud). Based on my current work (Children at Play) which uses color contrasts as part of the composition, I already know what colors I’ll use and how they will work to communicate what I’m trying to say. The background colors I choose are just as important as the foreground or subjects’ colors. To avoid stagnation I strive to vary the intensity and effect making sure I have a good balance between dark and light tones with other elements of the piece.
The courage for me comes in being true to the piece and not letting my rampant color desires take over and disrupt what I’m trying to get to say to the viewer. BUT, what about the unquenchable love for color that I told you I have? Taking a “break” from my primary theme is a must for me. This has been especially true of my recent Death by Skittles series—it can be too emotionally draining. So I use printmaking, collage, mixed media, and fiber to get off on color. Here’s one called Birds in Flight (mixed media) and Musing at Lake Serene (mixed media).
Um yes, it is possible to have color overload in a painting. Just because you have access to every paint color variation in the rainbow doesn’t mean you have to use them all. The eye can only take so much. If many variations can be created from a few colors, why use 25 different ones. I am sure—less is more.