|Portrait of a Man by Jan Van Eyck, 1433, oil painting on wood.|
Vermillion, crimson, scarlet, fuchsia—the color red comes in so many different shades. And of all the colors in the spectrum or on the color wheel, it’s the most easily visible. It’s also the hottest of the warm colors and has even been proven to raise blood pressure and respiration rates. No matter the hue, if you paint it red, it will command attention.
The color red can tell you a lot about an object or subject of a painting. Take Jan Van Eyck’s Portrait of a Man, for example. Yes, it’s a portrait of an anonymous man (possibly a self-portrait of the artist), but that doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t know anything about him. Looking at the sitter’s expression, pose, and, most of all, that awesome, vivid red hat, I’d hazard a guess that this man was assertive, wily, and someone with whom you wouldn’t completely let down your guard. Although these are just observations, I’m guessing Van Eyck knew what he was doing when he was mixing colors for that hat. It embodies a power and force that goes hand-in-hand with what the color red is all about.
Not all artists take advantage of what red has to offer. Although the color is luscious, when applied thoughtlessly it can appear garish or even gory. It is the root of all the healthy glows and flushed skin that painters depict, but a little goes a long way. Keep in mind that in basic color theory, red projects forward to our eyes, so don’t use it for objects that you want to recede or items that are supposed to remain subtle and in the background.
When pairing red with other colors from the color wheel, note that cool blues will mute it and pinks, oranges, and yellows make it pop. Green and red can come across as too seasonal when put together. This may seem like basic information, but with red you can never be too careful, and to be forewarned is to be forearmed. I say use it with caution and care, but definitely use it!
Just like my musings on the color schemes surrounding red, the Making Your Mark in Watercolor Kit, is all about delving into the details of color, brushstrokes, and layering through sumptuous watercolor. From how to render volume to understanding wet-in-wet and more, this kit gives artists the in-depth knowledge of the techniques and methods we want to employ in our artistry. See if these top resources rekindle your creative passions—or if a new tool or technique catches your eye. What better way to celebrate ourselves than by honing in on what we love in our art?