Tuesday, April 23, 2013

5 Ways to Create High Contrast Oil Paintings

14x11 Oil on Canvas

My taste in art has varied over the years. As I am now intrigued by oil paintings with high levels of contrast, it seems as if much of my artwork reflects this preference, including my latest work.
Here are several concepts I use for creating high contrast paintings:

Selective Color Choices— With this painting, most of the colors are similar on the tonal scale and vibrancy. Brilliant yellows, reds, and oranges make it easy to identify subjects from a distance. I was once told by an art instructor that particularly in landscape paintings, adding yellow in the foreground fosters a sense of close proximity.
Tonal Variations – Use the whitest whites and the darkest darks. While this may seem obvious, sometimes the “whitest white” is the lightest shade of any color verses pure white. The “darkest dark” may be purple, brown, or blue, instead of black, depending upon the image. Modify light, medium, and dark areas, and examine their tonal relationships to each other.

Avoid Creating Mud— Allow layers to dry in between applications when using oils. Avoid creating mud… the dreaded result of mixing too many colors, therefore forming a less than desirable grayish-brown tone. You may want to stay with a limited color palette until you know which formulas play well together.
Planned Underpainting— Experiment with underpainting your canvases black, gray, or red, instead of basic white. Think in terms of the end result, before beginning the process. The base coat should serve as a foundation from which the other colors mingle. The base coat I chose for this painting was magenta.

Using Professional Grade Paints and Transparent Oils – Avoid the temptation of using white to lighten every color. Higher quality pigments and transparent oils can often increase the depth and vibrancy of your paintings. Venture beyond the basic color set and incorporate wider color variations of pre-mixed tubes.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can't wait to read lots of your posts.
    Oil Paintings


Thanks for your comments!