In a recent email titled Revisiting a Familiar Subject, I shared two of my paintings featuring the jetty at Kingfisher Bay, Australia. One was done many years ago when I was a beginner, and one was done earlier this month.
The biggest difference between the two paintings is in my handling of color. In my early painting, I thought the best way to convey the sunset’s brilliant colors was to jam as much color as I could into the painting. But this was naive. Back then, I didn’t really know what color was or how it worked. I just tried to guess my way through.
My recent painting shows more restraint. I set the stage with weaker colors and saved the strongest colors for only the most brilliant parts of the sky. I used less color overall, but I think the end result is much more striking.
This is a common issue for beginner artists. When you don’t know much about color, your first intention is often to use as much of it as you can. More color is better, right? But to get the most out of your colors, you must exercise control and restraint. Color is relative and for some colors to stand out, other colors must fall back.
If you want to learn more about color, why it works the way it does, and how to get the most out of it in painting, you might be interested in our new course, Color Masterclass. Enrollment is only open for the next week.