How to render form in colour.
After years of study I’ve learned working methods that help me to simplify my colour and painting process. One of these methods is rendering with temperature shifts. So when I change the value of a colour, I alter the temperature by adding more yellow, more red or blue.
I start with a limited palette of white and only two colours: usually a warm earth tone such as Burnt Sienna and a cool blue, for example Ultramarine Blue. Later, I’ll add a yellow and a red to bring about the necessary temperature shifts.
When painting, my first concern is value and I’ll squint to see the value shapes. I’ll also simplify the values and group value shapes as much as possible. With these simple value shapes in mind, I can then mix a colour for every step or transition in value.
I begin by blocking in the shadow with a medium-dark cool tone, ignoring details and variations in the shadow. Then I mix the next value shapes that comprise transition tones, making sure this is warm enough so they separate from the cool shadow. Then I mix the next value shape and shift that temperature as well. I’ll continue this process to the brightest highlights. As long as the temperature shifts are dramatic enough, the values will read and the colours will feel lively.
Canvas or illustration board Bristle brushes of various sizes Oil paint colours: Titanium White, Ultamarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Alizarin Crimson Solvent or thinner
1 Block in shadow
Once the drawing and placement is defined I’ll block in the shadow. I mix a greyish blue tone using Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue. I also make sure to simplify the shadow shape by disregarding details and nuances. Shadow variation and details can be added at a later stage.
2 Transition tones
I begin rendering by moving from shadow to light using a warm brown comprising Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue. This warm ‘pops’ against the cool-blue shadow. For subtle variation, I mix in yellows and cool reds. These temperature shifts make the colour lively and life-like.
Mix cool reds in lower area
Ignore details in shadow