Design study 1 (3-A-Week Challenge)

8×10 design study

This week I’m focusing on the next topic in Matt Smith’s online mentorship program: design. For this study, I used a reference photo that I’m just crazy about because of the way the low sun is casting long blue-violet shadows across the snow, with the contrast of the warm-colored shrubs.

The designing of this one involved removing our old car that was in the shot and rearranging some of the brushy elements to help move the eye around the visual path I was going for. I also made note of where I wanted strong value, color, and saturation contrast as a part of this path.

value masses

I enjoyed working with this palette quite a bit, which I based on two pairs of complements plus a blue:

  • cadmium yellow (the Holbein version of this pigment is quite deep)
  • ultramarine violet
  • quinacridone violet
  • chromium oxide green
  • cobalt blue pale

Something I’d like to try on the next paintings is to go darker with the initial washes of color for the dark areas. I think that will keep them a little more transparent/less heavy looking if they start out darker because I found that when I went back in later to darken them, they got much more opaque and heavy.

This is a subject I’ve done a few other times: at the beginning of my 30 Days of Value Thumbnails and as a color mixing study with a much larger palette of colors. I always liked that mini color study from the value thumbnails project, and this new painting feels like it’s in the same spirit but an improvement on the design. And the color palette on that other one was so huge! I see now why I was struggling with color harmony and saturation — using a more limited palette that’s built for efficiently neutralizing colors has been really helpful for wrangling over-saturated colors.