Saturday, March 22, 2014

Warm and Cool, who knew?

Hi its Desiree here. I love this months theme as it causes me to stop and think about something I do naturally, without much thought anymore. That's the one nice thing about practice, pretty soon it just becomes natural and organic and it can be done without over thinking it. I also need to admit that I am not one to follow rules when it comes to creating art. It needs to be a bit intuitive but knowing some basics about cool and warm can help you create more successful artwork. I thought I would share some simple tips that I use when I am painting that have helped me and I hope they will help you too.

COOL TIP: One of the things is that is cool about cool colors is that they go back or make things look like they recede in the painting while warm colors come forward in your painting. That is why when you look at landscapes you will notice that mountains are often painted in blues and purples for a few reasons. First, like I mentioned, those cool colors recede but also the farther things are away from us the more layers of atmosphere cover them. So I always think about layers of blue sky covering things as they get farther away from me. This atmospheric layering also softens the colors so as they go back they also get lighter.
Remember my sketch from Crater Lake, I was tucked in the lodge when the blizzard hit but you can see here how the warm colors of the rock wall stand out from the cool colors of the trees. As the trees got farther away they became less colored and lighter (the blizzard also helped the effect).  This is also a good tip for creating the look of blowing snow or fog. Do you see how if gives the feeling of depth?

In this sketch from the window at my moms house you can see how the warmer colors come forward and lead your eye through the painting. As the hills get farther away they became cooler and softer.

HOT TIP:   Warm colors bring things to the front of your painting, they tend to draw your eye. Norman Rockwell would use red in selected areas in his paintings to move your eye around the painting. Next time you see one of his paintings see if you can catch it. It is often something we do with out even realizing it. Do you remember the movie, The Sixth Sense, they used red in much the same way, to bring attention to a specific thing.

This is a painting that I have done on fabric with acrylic inks. I use cools and warms together to lend interest. Do you notice how your eye follows the red up the path, jumps the road to the bushes on the left and then across the roof to the bushes on the right? I am asking the viewer to explore the painting.  See how the stronger colors are close and soften as they recede. I did darken the cypress behind the Duomo to make it stand out even more. But do you see how the warm building comes forward off of the trees behind? I will be teaching this at the San Diego Quilt Show in Sept!

Greens can either be cool or warm depending if you use a green blue or a yellow green , do you see that here? Scan back up and see if you notice the warmer greens verses the cooler greens. Cool huh!

warm forward, cool back

I love to mix cools and warms, the results are sometimes so exciting! 

Well, let me encourage you to try and see if you can create the feeling of things receding and moving forward using cool and warm colors this week in your sketchbooks.  But most of all have fun!! Hope to see you in San Diego!

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  1. Thank you for the helpful and interesting tips!

    1. You are so welcome I cant wait to see what you might paint using them!

  2. Fabulous examples and explanatory text! Thank you. Barbara R.

  3. I always enjoy your posts so much, Desiree. Your work is inspiring!