Workshop Number Four of Five In Tonalism
Tutor: David Chen
Similarly to previous workshops in tonals, the goal of this workshop was for students to complete two paintings for the day on a subject they had with them or from the still life that David had arranged in the studio. The dark tonal painting was the morning assignment, and the light tonal painting was to be completed in the afternoon. As with the previous workshops, there is not enough time to attempt the mid-tone painting, and as most people have a better grasp of these, the more difficult dark and light tones are worked on.
Orange can be for many, the most difficult colour to have as your dominant colour in a painting. This is why is was left to late in the series of workshops. Like any other colour however, it isn’t the only colour you use in an orange dominant painting. It is the colour that use dip into to knock back, or tint other colours with to make a harmonious painting. The orange that you get in your paint tubes is not the only colour that can be called orange. When you mix your own colours, a huge range of oranges can be discovered, from the very light yellow-oranges to the very dark red-oranges, they can be cool or warm and the other colours that go along with these are Van Dyke brown, Burnt Sienna and Australian Red Gold and Golden Yellow.
In the landscape, you may think of orange being in so many places, but if you look at clouds after a storm or at sunset or even on certain mornings you will see tones of orange, you can also find it in the landscape and on the shorelines of the sea. Look at the work or Streeton where he used tones of orange with the complementary and split complementary colours pale tones of blues and purples.
Another example is Monet, who used warms such as oranges with complementary colours in his paintings based his garden, as well as the haystack series.
These artists didn’t just grab any colour or attempt to copy exactly what they saw in nature, they were experimenting with colour to create a unified and cohesive painting.
My palette for this workshop consisted of Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Golden Yellow, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange, Burnt Sienna, Vandyke Brown, Lilac, Ultrmarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson and White. The complementary colours were used to knock back, cool or warm the oranges that I mixed, as well as mixed with a very tiny touch of orange in a few spots for highlights to the painting. The lilac was given a touch of orange and used for the tips of some of the flowers for example.
When painting a light tonal painting using orange, use of the complementary colours to replace background colours for example, can help to push the subject forward and define its edges. Making the background as light as possible will also help to define the focal point. Creative use of soft and hard edges as well as making sure that you get the modelling of things like the vase is more important in the lighter toned paintings. Shadows in the lighter toned paintings can be made up of complementary colours, so you effectively get a cool shadow adjacent to a warm object like an orange or lemon.
When painting dark toned paintings, push your darks to get your darkest the as dark as possible. This may involve mixing colours like a Van Dyke brown with Ultramarine Blue for darkest shadow areas. A touch of Alizarin Crimson will warm this colour up and deepen the tone even further.
In dark, light or mid toned paintings, remember your light source. The highlights and shadows need to be from a consistent source and direction.
Remember when using this method that you are not trying to make a copy of nature, you are creating an artwork. The goal is to take a subject and make it your own. You decide your dominant colour, you decide the other colours that will work with that colour to make a cohesive palette. This will help to create a painting that works, where all the colours relate to each other and the painting just “looks right”.
This is how artists expresses themselves in a painting. Mood, form and tone are the goals. This is how we can create art that is unique to us as artists.
I will place both my paintings from the workshop below so you can see examples of what I have been discussing.