Karen LeGault ~Fine Art Blog

October 13, 2015

Your color looks different from what I normally expect watercolor to look like. Do you use a special kind of paint?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Karen LeGault @ 07:10
Tags: , ,
"Tea Party"

“Tea Party”, watercolor by Karen LeGault


This is a question I often hear at art festivals when viewers are looking at my work.
Watercolor is a flexible medium that can be used in many ways. So, no, I don’t use a special kind of paint. It is normal watercolor. My preferred brand is Schminke, but I used others too. I like intense luminous color. To achieve it I layer my color, sometimes with as many as 20 layers, occasionally with a single layer.

In a painting, color is all about what you put next to it. Neighboring colors influence each other, much in the same way that friends influence each other. Who we are next to can change the way we feel and function at a given time.

For example, red and green are complements, or opposites. Together they can stimulate each other and they both appear brighter because of a phenomenon called simultaneous contrast.
You know how when you stare at a solid color and then look at a blank white paper, how you see the opposite color ghosting on the paper? A colors’ opposite gets cast out from it, so that its neighbor gets some of that opposite added to it. If a green shape is next to a red shape they will each give more of their complement to their neighbor, so the red appears redder and the green appears greener.

Working with those relationships is what the balance of a painting is all about.
Too many pure colors next to each other can be loud and annoying. In music a band can allow a particular instrument to take the lead, while the other instruments become background support, but still have their own character. In painting, finding ways to support color so that we can enjoy the subtleties involved gives visual interest. A color can be “shaded” (mixing black or a dark mix with the color) or “tinted” (adding white) or “toned” (adding its complement for tertiary effect.)

Tinting, toning and shading the color while leaving small patches of pure color, makes the color stand out. So, for example, if you want a red to stand out you can support it with a neighboring tone. (A mix of red and green creates an rich brown that can either be redder or greener depending on the mix). In context the red will stand out and have meaning. Red by itself is very flat! Yes, even red needs help from others.

This is part of what makes my use of color unique.


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