Color me excited…

You can never go wrong with color studies.I’m not a “color” guy. In college I did not do well in my entry level painting class which might explain why my concentration ended up as sculpture. So of course after paying a lot of money to learn about sculpture (and I think a refund might be in order) I decided to learn how to paint like a big boy.

It is difficult.

I poured over books about color theory, looked at tons of paintings (not really understanding what I was looking at or for to be honest), and made more color wheels than I would like to admit.  All for not. Trying to match a color used to inspire as much panic as I felt when I was in high school algebra… and geometry…. and college physics. I’m feeling much better now.

Lots of artists out there now all about different kinds of pigments and their chemical properties and all that. I don’t. Not yet. Some day I’ll ht the books on all that stuff. For now I’m working on matching a color, making things advance, making them recede, looking at how color unifies and structures a composition. I’ve taken a more discovery based path to understanding color. I feel comfortable with this process. Even when you het something wrong you learn from it. And if you learned from it how wrong can that situation be? I don’t mind my mistakes (though I still say impolite things when I’m not quite understanding things at a rate that make me feel like an artistic genius. Here are a couple of color studies in oil, Van Dyck’s “Moses and the Brazen serpent” and the “Portrait of Mulay Ahmed” by Rubens. These guys are pretty small (they’re called thumbnails for a reason right?) You can cover them with one hand with room to spare.

Van Dyck Moses and the Brazen Serpent color study      Van Dyck Moses and the Brazen Serpent for Blog

Rubens Maulay Ahmed color study       Rubens Mulay Ahmad for Blog

Color studies should be part of any serious painters agenda. I think about 75% of what I’m working on should be some type of copy of work that inspires me and expresses a level of craftsmanship that I would like  achieve some day. Someday never seems to be today. Funny how that works.So, Bargue it up. Do compositional studies after old master drawings. Plant yourself in front of your favorite painting or sculpture at your nearest art museum and let let those works teach you what they know.

A scanner, a good art history book, and decent printer works well. I just IMG_0864make little copies of paintings I like (maybe I need to learn about blue so I pick a “blue” painting or I want to create a sense of deep space so I choose a painting with deep aerial perspective) and make some color studies with “too big a brush”.

If you’ve ever thought something like “I wish I could paint like Rubens” you should give it a shot. He’s been gone a long time but he’s still a good teacher. After you have learned to paint like your favorite artist it won’t be long before you’re painting like yourself.


Van Dyck Jerome color study      Van Dyck Jerome for Blog



~ by Kelson Barber on January 2, 2016.

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