I hope you have been enjoying my teaching blogs.  I have learned a lot by reading and applying what I read.  It isn't always easy to do and it takes lots of practice, but the results are SO worth it!  When you paint daily, you can see your artwork improve right before your eyes!  An easy way to see your progress is to set a painting you did a year, a month, or even just a week ago next to the one you just finished.  The difference can be dramatic or perhaps more subtle.  But, trust me, there IS improvement!  Yes, there will be days of frustration when you feel nothing is going right. But at those times, you can lay down your brush and take a breather.  When you come back you might like it more than you thought, or, you may see what is wrong and then proceed to fix it!  It's important to never give up!  Just keep painting!

     I have been posting about the books on Color Theory.  Some of you may feel that it is too complicated and others may want to dig deeper.  Some may feel either way is fine, but for me this is fascinating information!  If you have ever done a painting and you feel it is good, but, as you keep looking you can tell something is just a little "off".  The composition is good, the structure is good, each tree, mountain, or stream (or whatever your subject is) is good.  Still, you're just not happy with it and don't know why.  That is when you need to look into the color harmony concept.  Study the color wheel THOROUGHLY.  By that, I mean we actually need to memorize the color wheel!  For an artist, is as important as learning the vocabulary.  Before we can write, we need to be able to spell.  And before we can paint colors in harmony, we need to understand the principles of harmony.  The only way to learn and know it, is to memorize and use the color wheel.

      Dr. Betty Edwards is a professor emerita in art at California State University, Long Beach. I haven't done all the exercises in her book yet (COLOR; A Course In Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors: $16 on Amazon) but I will be doing so.  I read it through first, and now going back through doing the exercises.  It takes time, but the effort put into doing all these exercises will reap rich rewards. She tells how she used to teach color mixing by using pieces of colored paper, but when the students tried to carry that method over into actual painting, they faltered. So she revamped her class and the students actually mixed paint instead. That worked!  Her first class to use the mixing methods won awards in their very first show and those paintings sold, something that was almost unheard of until then.

     In her book there are templates to be copied and then cut out on stiff cardboard.  Several are needed and on them we paint the different colors of the color wheel, a value wheel and intensity charts. By the time we go through all the exercises we have learned a lot.  And, because we actually do the work, we remember what we've learned.  Then she has us do specific paintings in which we put those lessons into practice.  Her system works and it gives us a valuable education!  It's not hard, just time consuming, so I'd plan on at least an hour or two to work on this project each time we sit down.

     If you consider your artwork as just a hobby, you might not want to invest the time.  But if you are a serious student of art and want to really succeed, then I strongly recommend that you take this course.  I found out it is offered as a professional off campus course, and like her course "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" it is one week long, and it is QUITE EXPENSIVE!  So if you're disciplined enough to study her book on your own, it is easy enough to follow.  Just be sure to do each exercise in order and you'll succeed.  Cutting corners will not be to your benefit here, but the rewards are well worth the effort expended.  Your artwork will take a giant leap forward and maybe you'll be winning awards!

     Below I have a painting I had done previously and my first painting done with color harmony.  Compare the two and you can see a big difference.  One is definitely more pleasing to the eye!  Please let me know if you do this course and how you felt about it, ok?  I will be adding some of this curriculum to my Community Enrichment classes that I teach, so I'd truly appreciate your feedback!
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This painting was done about a year ago.  I felt it was good, but I wasn't really happy with it.  Now I know why that is!
The colors are not in harmony.  The sky is great so I will keep that, but the water and beach are too bright in color.  I will tone them both down to fit in with the sky.  Oh, and I will paint a couple walking on the beach instead of one person.  I just like that idea better.

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     This painting is much softer and more pleasing to the eye, don't you agree?  I will be adding three birds and renaming it, but for now,  my point is to show how color harmony can make a BIG difference in your paintings!  I used yellow, blue, purple and a touch of orange, plus a little white and black to create this painting.  FYI:  mixing complementary colors is a way to make gray.  The rocks were made with yellow and purple plus a touch of blue, and then darkened with some black.

                                       Enjoy, then get busy and paint!


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