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Color Theory Trudi Green Smith

For my piece this week, I wanted to focus on complementary colors using acrylic paint. I decided to create three small landscape paintings and to explore a complementary color pair in each painting. For each of the paintings, I limited my palette to only two complements plus white. I used the same process for each painting. I started with an underpainting using a thin coat of the warm color of the complementary pair (orange, yellow, red). The next step was to sketch the basic shapes and dark values with the cool complementary color (blue, violet, green). Next, I mixed white into the color I chose on my palette to block in the sky (blue, violet, red) considering atmospheric perspective. I then mixed the complementary colors together to create neutral tones to block in foliage in the distance, etc.

My final piece is a triptych of complementary color studies which illustrate the powerful effect of using complementary colors adjacent to one another, and also the neutralizing effect of mixing complementary colors together. These studies also illustrate the basic approach that I use in my paintings and that I teach my high school students: underpainting with a warm color, sketching basic shapes and values with a cool color, and then adjusting colors and values. If I were to add one more step to these studies, I would add some "local color" which would primarily be some of the greens that I observed in the landscape, while still letting much of the underpainting to show through.
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Trudi Smith
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