Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Most Common Mistake When Checking Colors

I haven't blogged in the last week because I've been so busy with one of my workshops. It went really well! These will look even better once they're varnished, but here are two of the student paintings from the class:

Sue Gutierrez's painting from the Draw Mix Paint Portrait Workshop
by Sue Gutierrez                click to enlarge

Susan Sims's painting from the Draw Mix Paint Portrait Workshop
by Susan Sims                click to enlarge

There are certain problems people run into in every workshop I teach, including this Portrait Workshop where I saw it happening over and over again. This is probably the most common mistake when checking colors and painting them in.

Let's say you are checking the colors of an eye in the image below.

Let's zoom in and look at the "white" on the left side of this eye:

Typically, people will check the color of the white of the eye by putting a little spot of paint in the middle of the area, where the black dot is in the image below.

Then they turn to their canvas and paint in the entire area like I have illustrated here:

As you can see, the white of the eye was not a uniform single color as one might assume. Instead, it gets much darker toward the edges, and lighter toward the bottom right.

It is much better to check the color on the edge of the area, which I've indicated here with black dots:

Then paint the whole area with this darker color, and only paint a small spot of the lightest color in at the end right on top of the darker color, as I've illustrated below.

This is just one example, but it's easy to make this mistake anywhere. When checking your colors, find the spot where the color matches, then ask yourself "how high up does it go? how far down does it go? how far to the left does it go?  how far to the right does it go?" This is the only way to know for sure exactly what color goes where.

So do not make assumptions about color and value. Let the color checker teach you.

— Mark Carder
my free videos: drawmixpaint.com

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