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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

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