Exercise: Still life with complementary colours

This exercise is using just two hues, one colour and its complementary colour, plus white to lighten tone. I like the idea and freedom of just using 2 colours, but now I have to decided which ones to use. The background and the glow from the lamp is orange-yellow so maybe I’ll go with blue (which is in the record sleeve) and orange-yellow as the complementary colour. I can mix, I hope, something for the scarf (which is red) and I can use white to lighten as well. I am looking forward to see what I can mix with these 2 colours.

Sketches and ideas worked out before in this post:


I have decided to use colbalt blue and yellow-orange. I think these are good complementary colours. I am going to start by using the yellow-orange as a ground wash. I am having a play with these two colours to see what I can mix while this dries. I have used some canvas that was given to me, cut to fit over my board, so it is about A2 I think. Seems nice quality!

Ok, so I have been over confident here. Working with just the two colours is very difficult. I abandoned my large work and started a new, A3 sheet. I was now aiming to paint a dark, shadowy version using the grey/greens that can be mixed from the yellow and blue. After a while this, too,  I felt, was also not going well. I have now gone back to the other A2 piece and painted over some parts I was not so happy with and I am working on this again now. I hope I am learning from my mistakes…. So my mistake was to think I had done enough sketches of this still life but for this exercise I needed to look at the colours and work out in advance how I was going to use them. Still, I think I am back on track now.Will continue tomorrow.image1-27

I have had a good afternoon’s painting and I think I have finished. I painted the handkerchief white in the end, with blue spots and stripes. Strangely, it now looks as if made of silk rather than cotton – it was hard using different colours for things and getting the tones to look ‘right’. I do like the colours – the orange- yellow works so well with the dark grey/green that comes up when mixed with the blue, but I didn’t like the blue alone in this picture, it just did not look right.

So, the next day I looked at this again and decided that I was not happy with the handkerchief  white…I think not having the actual colours to look at has made it tricky to describe…so I have painted it over blue, with just a little of the yellow to darken, then added some white.  I am missing black more than I realised, but have also learned that you don’t actually need it – if you are clever! I was pleased with the handkerchief when I did it red as in the colour accuracy exercise but it has been the trickiest thing for me here. So now I think it is a little better than it was although I am not really satisfied with it…

I was bothered by the handkerchief so I did a sketch, using the original photo I took, then I tackled it again. Much better I think…. See, Wendy, slow down and study things, don’t try to rush 🙂image2-22







Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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