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Challenge Prompt: 2 Colors

Colors of Summer Art Challenge

PROMPT 2: Two Colors

This post is intended to supplement the Colors of Summer Art Challenge that I am co-hosting on Instagram throughout the month of August (2019). Exercises in color are generally meant to help with color theory and color mixing. While I believe this challenge can accomplish both, I will be focusing on color mixing. I would encourage you to experiment and try new things. Color mixing is fun and really helps you get to know the colors that you have. I genuinely hope that in the process of this challenge, you discover something new! For more information and the challenge prompts, please see the challenge post on my Instagram feed.

This is a tough one!

This prompt is, in my opinion, the hardest out of the bunch. Working with just two colors is really challenging but it also means you will learn a lot. If you have no idea where to begin, I suggest you start with color swatching. Pick two colors at a time and just see what you can make by mixing them together. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to approach this exercise but luckily I came across a reference photo and immediately realized I could manage it with two colors. So that may be another option. Keep your eyes peeled for images in a very limited color palette. Photo filters can be your friend here as well, and trends like orange and teal could also work in favor of this prompt.

Example of an orange and teal photo reference.

What colors to pick?

Ideally, you want to choose two different colors (pans, tubes, etc.) preferably not from the same color family. So, for example, not two different greens or two different purples. Choosing colors from the same color family avoids color mixing which is the intention behind the prompt. Also, there is little value in it in terms of learning about color. Choosing black will have a similar impact, diminishing the usefulness of the exercise. So again, I would say that black and white do not count as colors for this. However, if you mix two colors together to create your own black, this is completely different and absolutely okay.

The goal is to make as broad of a range of colors as you can from just two starting colors. Additionally, you want to be able to create a full range of values using color rather than relying on black. Keep these two things in mind when you pick your colors.

Some things to try:

  • A dark neutral plus a bright color. Example of dark neutrals: Sepia or Payne's Gray.
  • Complimentary colors, this will work some of the time but not all of the time. Example: Red and Green.
  • You can also try compliments that are shifted slightly, like blue with an orangey-red or pink and a bluish-green. Example: Magenta or Carmine and Perylene Green make an interesting shade of dark purple.
  • In general, colors that mix to create a neutral are a safe bet. Example: Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna.
  • Avoid picking two colors that are light in value as this will lead to problems with creating contrast. Example of light value colors: Potter's Pink and Naples Yellow.
  • Simple subjects like a pitcher or a piece of fruit may be an option if you are running short on ideas in regards to subject matter.
  • It does not have to be a full edge to edge painting. Feel free to leave the background white.

This photo reference could be painted using only dark blue and dark brown.

What colors did I choose?

For my painting, I have chosen Indigo and English Red (both from White Nights). A slightly unusual combo but it is effective and suited the photo I wanted to use. Using only these two colors I can create delicate pale washes as well as a near black mix and everything in between. They also combine to create a very nice neutral grey.

A Few Final Tips

  • Don't undervalue the importance of the color of the surface you are working on, aka the white of the paper.
  • Don't be afraid to push the limits of your comfort zone, this is a challenge after all!
  • Remember to have fun! Learning through play is one of the best ways to gain experience and develop your skills.

I hope this helped you and I can't wait to see what you create!

P.S. - If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment here or reach out to me on Instagram @amyearls.art

Reference photos shown here are from Pixabay.

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Challenge Prompt: Monochromatic

Colors of Summer Art Challenge

PROMPT 1: Monochromatic

This post is intended to supplement the Colors of Summer Art Challenge that I am co-hosting on Instagram throughout the month of August (2019). Exercises in color are generally meant to help with color theory and color mixing. While I believe this challenge can accomplish both, I will be focusing on color mixing. I would encourage you to experiment and try new things. Color mixing is fun and really helps you get to know the colors that you have. I genuinely hope that in the process of this challenge, you discover something new! For more information and the challenge prompts, please see the challenge post on my Instagram feed.

Artistic License

From one artist to another, please feel free to interpret the prompt however you wish but if you are looking for a little guidance or a few suggestions, read on and I will do my best to explain without getting too technical or going off on a tangent about Physics lol.

What does Monochromatic mean?

According to Google, monochromatic means, "containing or using only one color." This means all of the colors in the color spectrum (aka - the rainbow) are fair game. To offer further clarification, you are not limited to primary colors. Orange, for example, would be considered one color, even though it is made up of red and yellow. For our purposes think of using just one pen, or one colored pencil, or one tube of paint, etc. This is how we will define "one" color.

What about Black & White?

While a black and white image is considered monochromatic, I would encourage you to not to choose either of these as your "color". In fact, I would go so far as to say that white and black do not count as colors for the purposes of this challenge.

Why am I making this distinction? One very simple reason, this challenge is open to all art mediums. When it comes to opaque mediums such as acrylic or gouache, white is used to lighten a color and black can be used to darken a color. In other words, in order to create a range of values the use of black and white is unavoidable and I don't want this to hamper your color choices. That being said, the black or white should not be used alone for this first prompt, but mixed with your main color. For the watercolor painter, this consideration is more than likely unnecessary. I almost never use black or white, and if I do it is not to create changes in value.

If you want to get super technical, Wikipedia says that, "Monochromatic color schemes are derived from a single base hue and extended using its shades, tones and tints. Tints are achieved by adding white and shades and tones are achieved by adding a darker color, grey or black."

Why just one color?

The monochromatic prompt is intended to encourage you to explore the range of values and dimension you can create using just one color. It is also good practice for keeping your values consistent. Think of this exercise as a more in-depth value study but instead of being limited to greyscale you are using a color instead. Using color can make it a bit trickier but also more fun. In general, darker colors are the easiest to use for this purpose as they only require you to change the value in one direction (make it ligher). For me, as a watercolor artist, this just means adding more water. However, I think that changes in value can be created in most mediums so please do not be discouraged if painting is not your thing. Here are a few ideas on how to explore this prompt using other mediums:

  • Pen - changes in value can be created using hatching, crosshatching, stippling, or even just scribbling.
  • Colored Pencil - the pressure applied to the pencil with effect the darkness of the color and can create beautiful gradients.
  • Marker - I would suggest starting with a color that is more towards the middle of the value range. Leave the white of the paper for highlights. Add more layers where you want darker values.

A Few Final Tips

  • Don't undervalue the importance of the color of the surface you are working on, aka the white of the paper.
  • Don't be afraid to push the limits of your comfort zone, this is a challenge after all!
  • Remember to have fun! Learning through play is one of the best ways to gain experience and develop your skills.

I hope this helped you and I can't wait to see what you create!

P.S. - If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment here or reach out to me on Instagram @amyearls.art


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