Jerry Lebo, 2007
Day three started with high hopes. I had promised we would look at color today, so I woke up early this morning with my paints and easel ready to go out for some field painting. Unfortunately, it was raining and cloudy. My plan had been to go out and show you how to prepared a color harmony study out in the field--but the clouds put an end to that. Not to worry, I have another approach that you may find useful. Steal them.
I should give Scott Christensen some credit for the approach I am about to describe--since he gave me the idea in his DVD where he steals a color harmony from one of his own studies and puts it in another composition. I have put a twist on this approach. My thinking was, why steal from yourself--when you can steal from someone who is a better painter? I am not talking about stealing someone elses painting or even copying something they have painted--I am talking about taking the basic color scheme from one painting and using it in your own. Let me show you what I mean.
First, you need a painting that is worth stealing from. In this case, the painting I chose is by Dennis Miller Bunker, a friend of John Singer Sargent and student of William Merritt Chase. I didn't know much about his work until I saw a painting of his at the National Museum of American Art several months ago as part of the "Masterworks from the American Art Forum Collection". The show closed at the end of July, but I managed to get a electronic picture from the Internet that is available for educational purposes.
"Pines beyond the Fence", oil on canvas, 28 ¾ x 21 ¼ inches.
Dennis Miller Bunker, 1886, Private Collection
I mentioned the other day, I just bought a HPA510 photosmart printer which prints pretty accurate colors right out of the box. So I took Bunker's painting into Photoshop on my computer and sampled (using the eye dropper tool) various points in the painting to get a sense of the color. I essentially took 10 color samples as follows: (i) highlight of the right hand pine (foreground tree) and the mid-tone; (ii) the highlight of the left hand tree (background tree) and its mid-tone; (iii) two points in the sky (high and low) and the mountain on the left (peeking through); and (iii) three points in the ground plane--foreground warm color, dark, and color farthest back as it meets the trees. I took each of the sampled colors and printed them out on my printer on a 4x6 photo paper. Here is a picture of what it looked like.
So can using "borrowed" color harmonies improve you painting. You be the judge, here is the previous study and new painting side-by side.
Here is where we left it yesterday.
And here it is with the new color harmony, thanks to Dennis Miller Bunker.
What do you think? Send me your comments. I will post the other painting I did from this palette tomorrow--which I think turned out even better--since I was not constrained by my previous study and was able to play with the composition a bit.
Until then, all the best. Sixtyminuteartist.