By Tim Seaward
Producing an abstract is NOT an easy thing to do. While
applying pigment to ground may not take very long - coming up
with the image itself can be a far more time consuming
So I am going to briefly look into one aspect of abstract work
- the use of colour ... as part of the abstract progression.
Let us break down the constituent parts of utilizing colour.
2. Hue and colour combination
3. Colour balance
This can portray important elements such as contrast,
loudness, and texture. A very worthwhile exercise is to carry
small hardbound watercolour paper book, a tiny container of
black watercolour (two plastic bottle tops of different size
that one can fit into the other), a small watertight screwtop
vessel filled with clean water, and a small paintbrush (an old
fairly fine sable with most of the wooden part cut off and
sanded smooth). Seek to find a visual of any of the above
elements - say "contrast". Once you have found something that
contrasts with another try simply painting the contrast
necessarily portraying anything - just try to produce the
Hue and colour combination
This could (and has for me!) take a lifetime of study.
the fundamental sections include tints, harmony, disharmony,
complimentary, and combinations. I refer to the book, colour
pot, water bottle, and brush again only this time instead of
the pot containing just black have a pot with medium cadmium
yellow, crimson, and cobalt blue - nothing more. This is one
the most fscinating of exercises you will ever carry out,
because it will force you to mix these colours to produce ALL
other colours - remember to use the white of the paper for
white. Hunt out a visual that applies to one of the sections
mentioned above and seek to find varieties of tints. Look how
nature harmonizes colours very specifically - make careful
notes of these. Try and obtain a personal understanding of
you see as harmonious and disharmonious colours.
I have already mentioned harmony, but in this section I want
concerntrate on complimentary colours. We are entering the
scientific world of colour theory - and here we need to take
note of the specific combinations like red/green, orange/blue,
yellow purple. Careful consideration must be taken when the
complimentary combinations are utilized. You will have to
decide on what you want the viewer to experience. For instance
- you can give them quite a headache ... and even cause
migraines if you combine both colours at their strongest. Many
years ago when VAT was first implimented in the UK as a
some businesses used bright red ink on bright green paper in
order to cause reading difficulties for the Inland Revenue.
it. Try other combinations. If you desaturate one of the
(either adding a little black or white) you will find the
colour becoming much more bolder and louder. One other
experiment is to add a third colour - say red and green
separated by a line of black, orange and blue separated by a
line of deep red. Test out other combinations for yourself ...
and ALWAYS make a note of what you do.
With all these "try-outs" see how the colours vary if you try
increasing (or decreasing) the area of one colour. Different
textures will also add another "colour".
When it comes to applying the paint, be fearless and bold -
even while you produce something delicate.
Finally, here is a piece of advice I was given many years ago,
and have never forgotten: Whenever you experiment like this be
sure to always complete what you have started - even if it is
simple exercise. And if you truly want to succeed then you
always be painting - when you are ill - paint, when you are
angry, sad, frustrated - paint, and when you simply do not
like painting - then that is the one time you should paint.
Never stop yourself painting. If you do not stop yourself then
there WILL come a time when you find that you cannot STOP
painting! ...A painters paradise!!
About The Author: Tim Seaward is the author of "Abstract
- How to use it". He is also a practicing fine artist living
working in the UK. Visit his site to find out exactly what he
paints. www.ablot.com or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org