Saturday, 24 March 2012

On Colour

I'm a great lover of hue.  Who's Hue?  No, not that kind of hue.  I mean colour.  Part of what draws me to drawing and painting is the chance to pour colour onto the page.  But I'm discovering something interesting about hue.  Although it seems like the most important part of a picture, it's actually hardly important at all.  What's more important is the relationships between the colours you use.

Take an old master like Rembrandt.  His painting are set on dark grounds and with a limited palette of colours, but the secret of his lifelike portraits is the hue is perfectly chosen to convey not only form and shade but also the character of the subject.

So you don't need a whole spectrum of colour (my first mistake) in fact the more colours you use the harder your task in conveying form.  But finding just the right hue is no easy task and takes a lot of trial and error.  This weekend I have tried copying one of his pictures with pastel pencils on a ground of black acrylic. It's been a fun exercise to find which shades to use for flesh colours and I'm modestly pleased with the result.

And I can't help thinking that fiction is a lot like that too.  Hit the right note with your characters, give enough light and shade, and your story will come to life as you'd never expect.  Too much and nothing works.


Rosalie Warren said...

That's a really interesting parallel, Sandra, between visual art and writing. I like your suggestion about not overdoing the range of colours and using contrast to convey your characters. I'm not sure I've quite worked out yet what it means (for me), but I'm working on it.

Sandra Patterson said...

Thanks, Rosalie. Me too!