Analogous Complementary color scheme study

Cool and Crisp landscape oil painting study Apr 23 2019
“Cool and Crisp” 6×8 oil on panel

I’ve been scouring my landscape photos for more interesting compositions — something other than the horizontal bands I found myself repeating lately. This scene was from a photo I took at the Grand Tetons National Park. It’s Schwabachers Landing, a peaceful wildlife habitat that’s a popular photography spot. Our trip to the Grand Tetons was one of my all-time favorites. It was so beautiful there I didn’t want to leave!

For this study, I chose an analogous complementary color scheme to work with: blue, blue-green, green, and red-orange. Since it was a cool and crisp day when we visited the spot I wanted an overall cool feeling to the painting, I gave it the title “Cool and Crisp” to help me stay on track with that.

Four-value thumbnails
Reference photo
Underpainting on light peach-toned panel, using ultramarine blue and transparent earth red
Color map to test colors together (four values)

After testing my pre-mixed palette of colors, everything was reading too dark to me so I lightened them all up. I wish I hadn’t though because it ended up lighter than I wanted. Part of the problem may have been that I was testing the colors on a piece of white card stock, not the same surface I was ultimately painting on. Next time I would just make my best guess on colors/values, still testing them on the paper next to each other, but reserving small shifts until seeing them on the actual painting.

One of the things I really liked about the photo was the cool of the water next to the warm green of the grass. But with the color scheme I chose, it loses that impact quite a bit. I think there’s a lot of good stuff in this basic composition — it would be great to explore this with more studies, changing the colors and value zones, and overall temperature for different moods.