Artist’s colour theory on canvas
For an artist, choosing the right colours for your artwork is crucial.
But what if you can’t see the colours you’re using?
Paremata artist Alistair McDonald found out he was colour blind when he was 5.
He did not think he would make a career from art, so became a lawyer instead.
But he continued painting, drawing and sculpting as an escape from his office job.
‘‘Doing art was quite a good antidote to doing law,’’ McDonald said.
He struggles to tell green and red shades apart, but has developed strategies for reading on/off buttons, and dressing himself without clashing – ‘‘ Never wear brown or green. You wear blue, black and white.’’
Traffic lights were also a challenge, but otherwise he coped with colour blindness fine, he said.
‘‘ Everybody sees a different rainbow, so it doesn’t matter.’’
Since retiring from his office job he has taken up art fulltime, filling his house and workshops with paintings, sculptures, drawings, cartoons and stained glass.
One of his paintings of an earthquake-stricken Wellington featured on the cover of the Wellington telephone book in 2003/04.
Next week his first exhibition opens.
Although he enjoyed the freedom of painting for himself, there were advantages to holding exhibitions, McDonald said.
‘‘I’ve got more than 100 [works] sitting in the back room.
‘‘It’s more to get the spare room back.’’
Despite studying colour theory, McDonald uses a simple strategy when choosing colours for his works.
‘‘A lot of it is intuitive. I just think a colour might work and I can change it later [if it doesn’t].
‘‘I don’t know how you’re going to see them.
‘‘I just work out if it works for me. If it works for you, it’s a bonus.’’
Contrasts, with photographer Tanya Wintringham. Greenock House, 39 The Terrace, July 1 till 4, 10am till 5pm.
Paremata artist Alistair McDonald uses a different colour chart than other artists.