Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Not Gaudy!

Well howdy there, dear reader.

Glad you came back to find out what I'm up to with my Van Gogh project. As I mentioned in my previous VG post I've been working on a new approach to doing art in my (seemingly) never-ending quest to incorporate more colour into my work.

Last year over on WetCanvas! I posted a piece that I had been working on in which I had used some colours that wouldn't have been part of my palette at the time. You know, colours like Periwinkle, Pale Vermillion, Raspberry and Yellow Chartreuse. I love work that features bright, bold colour but at the time the thought of using them in my own work scared the bejeezus out of me.
I posted my work (and to be honest I can't even recall which one it was) in the hopes of getting some feedback and critiquing. People were more than happy to offer up their thoughts and opinions and it was one comment in particular that prompted me to think that perhaps I was on the right track. The commenter wrote that they liked my use of colour (as in colour not typically considered for the subject matter) because it worked well with the piece and that I had used it in a way that didn't look gaudy.

Sure, some folks may think that sounds kind of blunt or perhaps wouldn't have even given the comment a second thought but I was quite pleased with myself for having received this particular comment. As I mentioned before, I like work that features bright, bold colour but I've also seen some works where I have to ask myself whether the artist wasn't quite in a proper state of mind... if ya know what I mean.

In the big book of Van Gogh that I've been reading (and yes, I've been reading other articles and books on VG) there was a particular letter he wrote to Theo describing the colour and people of Arles in which he states:

"...Although the people here are grossly ignorant about painting in general, in themselves and their way of being they are far more artistic than in the North.
... They know how to add a touch of pink to a black outfit, and have a knack of putting outfits together in white, yellow, pink, or even green and pink, or indeed blue and yellow, so that nothing needs to be changed from an artistic point of view."**

That particular passage, combined with the comment I received last year gave me such a clear idea of what I'm trying to do with this project. I'm trying to attain that knack that VG is speaking of in regards to the people of Southern France but in a way that I can apply said "knack" to my art.

Now I know I said I was working on a daisy picture as my experiment but it's not the piece I have to show you today. Instead I finished up my "snow day" work of the horse and with the above thoughts in mind I figured colour-wise I'd just go for it and see what happens. First is the beginning stages, the second is a close-up of the forelock and the third is the completed piece:

"Mystic", WIP
8x10, coloured pencil on Colourfix
Copyright Rita Woodburne

"Mystic", close- up of forelock and head.
Copyright Rita Woodburne

8x10, coloured pencil on Colourfix
(With my apologies as the colour is slightly washed out in this pic)
Copyright Rita Woodburne

Now I must admit, I'm quite tickled as to how this came out. I managed to keep the softness that's part of my style and I got to use Henna, Lavendar, Limepeel and a slew of other colours that I wouldn't normally have picked up when working on a piece like this... without it looking gaudy!

I pat myself on the back.

Now don't go thinking that I've forgotten about my daisy piece. Far from it, in fact while I was finishing this one up I was working out the daisy piece in my mind and figuring out ways to apply the same ideas and methods to that one. At the moment I can see two main issues that I'm going to encounter in completing the daisies: 1- Aside from the lilac piece, it's been a good long while since I've done a floral. Flowers have lots more fiddly bits than horses and I've chosen an image with a rather different perspective so I've double whammied myself in that regard and 2- I'm working on Mi-Teintes which isn't as forgiving as Colourfix because it doesn't allow for as much layering. With that in mind I'm going to have to be very deliberate in my application of colour and how heavily it's applied.

With those obstacles laid out on the table I'm hoping I can finish it up this week-end and have it posted to you for next week. I do love a challenge.

Until Friday, keep on art-ing! :D

** "Vincent Van Gogh: A Self-portrait in Art and Letters" Edited by H. Anna Suh and published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, New York


Regina said...

Beautiful! I love that bit of unexpected color. I think it takes the painting up a notch.

Meg Lyman said...

I LOVE the colors in the mane. Those yellows really shine. Great job!!

Lisa B. said...

The colors look more natural than their description. Limepeel? Really? Looks like sunshine!

Rita said...

Regina- Thanks! I'm enjoying the process of using the "typical" colours and then throwing in little punchy bits.

Meg- Thanks, the manes of horses (and actually any fuzzy critters) are one of my fav things to do. I love those sweeping strokes of the pencil! :D

Lisa- Limepeel...really! It's re-assuring that you said they look natural. That's one of the things I'm hoping to work on too, making sure the unexpected colours look like they belong.