What would life be like without colour? Well, duller for one thing. A scientist could explain how colour is all about how light reacts on the retina and… yep, I’m already boring myself. I don’t much like science, but I do love colour.
It simply makes the world a better place. Can you imagine a carrot, a sunset or an orange as anything but orange? I can appreciate the beauty of black and white; thinking just about my own vanity I would always go for a black and white photograph as opposed to a colour one of myself (playing about with the contrast can hide a multitude of imperfections!). But a world without colour would be a sorry place.
Colour for me means… rich… vibrant… and eye catching. You can see my love of colour in my artwork. And often I won’t put backgrounds into my work as I think they can detract from what I’m trying to show.
My most obvious painting of colour is a commissioned piece I did of a cat in a bed of flowers, (which I imaginatively titled ‘Cat with Flowers 1’). If you know anything about gardening and flowers you’ll know that you would never get all those different types of flowers growing in the same spot at the same time. That is where artistic license comes in to play. That’s one of the many things that I love about drawing, painting and designing, there doesn’t have to be any rules. There are rules.
The rules of painting: Composition and ‘The rule of thirds’, (very handy when you’re first learning to draw and paint). ‘Thirds’ is fairly simple to understand and boils down to this; divide your paper or canvas into thirds both horizontally and vertically. This is the planning bit. When you start to draw out your image place the focus of your design either one third across or one third up or down the picture, or where the lines intersect. Your aim is to draw the viewer’s eye around your painting rather than them just looking at one spot.
The same rule applies to still photography, film and even most TV interviews, (look for the eye-line – where the cameraman has chosen to frame up a subject’s eyes within the frame). And once you understand the rules you can then chose to use them, incorporate elements or ignore completely as you see fit. There doesn’t have to be any rules once you know what the rules are. That’s art anarchy for you.
So… back to colour. Once you’ve decided how much of a rule follower, bender or breaker you’re going to be, gets some paint on your brush. With colour work, if you want your sky to be beige and your sea to be vermouth, I’m not going to object. I’d say keep an open mind and don’t be too worried about screwing up.
You will screw up. Some screw-ups will be consigned to the bin, some may be the making of you. Some of my best stuff could generously be labelled as ‘happy accidents’, (or screw-ups-that-look kinda-cool’). It’s your world in your colours, you decide how best to capture or represent it on paper, paint, film or digital media.
Next blog will have some incredible colour photos I took while spending a weekend in East London. Light, bright and bursting with colour, I promise a smorgasbord for the eyes.