In Living Color

1 Jan 2013

It's a brand new year and I want to start it off with a bang! And the one thing that I can't get enough of is color. The color wheel holds such simple beauty and complex mysteries, from saturated primary colors to more involved color mixes, that I don't see how I could ever feel like I've learned everything about it.

 female figure, turquoise pillow  20” x 17”  oil on illustration board  2011
Female figure, turquoise pillow by Peter Van Dyck, 20 x 17,
oil painting on illustration board, 2011.

But while I may revere all that the color wheel is capable of giving us, creating sublime and impactful color schemes for actual paintings can be a bit unnerving. I often get so involved with a color that I forget how to paint the necessary value and tonal changes that I need to make so that the color isn't just an independent and abstract stroke on the canvas but a part of how I will add dimension and atmosphere to my subject.

Camper by Peter Van Dyck, 22.5 x 32, oil painting on linen, 2008.
Camper by Peter Van Dyck, 22.5 x 32, oil painting on linen, 2008.

Peter Van Dyck is an artist who features sumptuous and often surprising color mixes in his artwork without letting the pigments take over his compositions. Teals, ambers, and pearlescent whites appear on Van Dyck's surfaces but they always serve to perpetuate what the artist is depicting, whether it's a camper van parked at dusk or a dim studio with nary a soul in sight. When I look at one of his paintings I fall a little bit more in love with the colors every time I look at them, but I don't ever forget what I am looking at. Instead, I just shift from color to object and back again, mesmerized and taking lots of mental notes.

Alabama studio interior by Peter Van Dyck, 24 x 22, oil painting on board, 2009.
Alabama studio interior by Peter Van Dyck, 24 x 22,
oil painting on board, 2009.

If you want to enhance or change the way you see color so you can improve your art, see if The Cape School Method DVD is right for you. Taught by Camille Przewodek, an award-winning plein air painter, this instructional DVD is all about color theory, and will show you how to get the tones and values you are looking for when you mix color. You'll also gain a richer understanding of light effects as well as how to spot all those tricky colors that hide in the shadows. Enjoy!


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