Mellow Yellow

Color reappeared in my new work in a large way. I had put increased attention on color in my summer evening monotype class, because I realized that most people at that level of experience anyway, can use a little background in color theory. Most artists at that level don’t have an intellectual program for color. They tend to pick up a bright looking tube, and go for it. But color is complex, and especially when brushed on to a plexi plate, can turn to a muddy mess so easily.

My Summer workshop was a rockstar class. In my 4 years of doing this, I hadn’t seen one so ambitious and engaged. I decided a nice little talk about  color theory was in order, and they responded well. Here’s what I told them:

The three primary colors, Yellow Red and Blue, when mixed, equal secondary colors Orange, Green and Violet, of varying brightness and warmth depending on what ratio of a certain color is used. Red and Yellow make Orange, for example. Red and Blue make Violet.

Each Secondary color when paired with the remaining, complementary Primary not its parent, yields a neutral tone, depending on ratios used. A little Orange mixed with Blue equals a bluish Gray; a little Blue mixed with Orange equals a rich orangey Brown. These are the Complements. Along with the Primaries, they are key to any of the thousands or even millions of  hues available from just the 8-color tin paint set you used to get at Christmas. You may have, like I did, experienced unneccesary jealousy in that each color in the giant sets your well off school friends got could be quickly concocted with your own set.

My new class has started Tuesday. A very experienced class; many of them have returned after taking the class in the past. I hope that means they liked the things I talked about, and I hope it means they’d like to try new things, because I’ve added some.

I’m also leading discussions about the work we produce. This sounds intimidating, but most artists tend to concentrate on their perceived failures in a given work, while most other people tend to notice things that are working well in that same work. So it’s of great value to discuss the work. I’m also giving “ghost” prints” ( second impressions from the ink remaining on the plate after the first run through the press) new emphasis. They can provide a way forward when artists get stuck, and torpedo our natural tendency to be results-oriented.

Everyone, even the instructor, can benefit from pushing through the first iteration of an idea and letting the “ghosts in the machine” take over for a bit.

From my latest gallery show at Zip 37. I had been taken with Emily Dickinson's several poems on the subject, but also saw a contemporary commentary in the reversal of roles: it's the man who wears the Hijab in this scenario.
From my latest gallery show at Zip 37. I had been taken with Emily Dickinson’s several poems on the subject, but also saw a contemporary commentary in the reversal of roles: it’s the man who wears the Hijab in this scenario. The sudden color burst was as much a surprise to me as to anyone. They are mostly secondary colors, as even the bright Yellow has a touch of Green, and most of the darks are actually a dark Violet.

 

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