Color is to me, the most delicious aspect of painting. The ability to recall intriguing color arrangements is a most helpful tool for the artist. The following exercise will help train the eye and mind to memorize color.
It’s best to start with single colors. Choose flat colored papers to begin. A box of Color Aid paper is ideal but a bit expensive. If you plan to do other color exercises it is worth the investment, otherwise any colored paper with a variety of hues will do.
I think oil paints are the best to use for this practice because the color you mix will be what you see when you compare it to that which you are trying to recall. Tempera changes value as it dries and watercolor, being transparent, is greatly influenced by its ground.
Cover the table you are working on with a grey cloth or paper. If you don’t have grey, black is the next best choice. Have your paints, brushes, 4 x 4 squares of illustration board and anything else that you need ready but out of your immediate visual field.
Place the color you are trying to memorize in front of you on the table and focus on it for 3 minutes. Close your eyes, remove the paper, and mix what you just saw. Paint the illustration board. When you are finished, take out the original paper and compare them. Ask yourself 3 questions~ should it be lighter or darker, warmer or cooler, duller or brighter?
Put this aside and try another color. A good strategy is to choose 3 or 4 colors and practice these for a week or until you can mix them exactly. Try another set the following week. Once matching simple flat colors is achieved, more sophisticated memory exercises for color combinations can be approached.
Boston Artist, Melody Phaneuf is well known for her evocative still life, landscape, and portrait paintings. Her paintings are regularly on view at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street; at Fenway Studios, Boston by appointment; and North Shore Art in Gloucester from May through October. Phaneuf ‘s paintings have been exhibited at The National Arts Club in New York City, Galerie Herouet in Paris, and with Art du Monde, in Japan.
Melody The Artist Home, founded with photographer and color specialist, Martha DiMeo, features Phaneuf’s original oil paintings on tumbled marble tile murals and beverage coasters, fine art prints, and handmade note cards.
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