Exploring Colour Palettes
I’ve been mulling over my “style”. You know, I haven’t tried very hard to have a style, in a lot of ways I just paint the way that feels natural to me and that happens to be a fairly painterly, impressionistic way of working when I work in oils. In watercolour, it’s always been what I feel is a pleasant mix of mess and precision.
Since joining the local plein air painting group, I have been watching other artists work in a way that wasn’t really accessible to me before this. They, too, mostly seem to just paint the way that they naturally instinctively paint. But some of them create work that is SO different from my own!
It does seem that plein air painters tend to adopt an impressionist style in general, probably mostly because you have to paint so flipping fast that you literally can’t paint any other way. If you stop to take out a tiny brush to paint that one plant, that’s it, you are done for! The light on the rest of the painting will all change and you will be left confused when you look up from the tiny details.
Which leaves me thinking of the tools we have at our disposal that help make a certain painting “ours”. Brush choices, brush strokes, colour palettes, canvas sizes, outlines/no outlines, how we frame the scene, how much contrast we introduce, the vibrancy of our colours, how much of the canvas we do in detail and how much we leave vague and suggestive, whether we liberally move things around to suit a composition or try to faithfully recreate exactly what was there.
I own colours that I NEVER reach for (looking at you, lemon yellow), and I think that my colour choices are a definite factor in my artistic style. Lately I have been wondering if I should be making more careful colour selections when painting. Like maybe I will try painting with a limited palette more often and just letting the true colours of things slide a bit. Using the two paintings from my sketchbook as an example, the yellow coneflowers were in reality quite a strong lemony yellow (Version 1) but I almost always prefer a more muted yellow or cadmium yellow (more of a sunny yellow - Version 2). I also never use phthalo green, finding it too artificial and blue in tone… I prefer to mix my own more muted greens, even sap green usually gets mixed with red or yellow to tone it down or add warmth.
Style is a constantly changing thing, anyways… but I definitely feel with oil paints that I am still working things out and forging a path. Which of the above images do you like the best? I am curious to know!