Thursday, July 28, 2016

Capturing Atmosphere With Color

"Sun-Soaked Afternoon" watercolor

"Invitation" acrylic

Same Scene, Different Mood

Whenever I am kayaking on the lake I stop by this scene just to take in the natural beauty and the man-made additions which just seem to invite us to stop and take a break. And since I'm usually tired from paddling I do stop. Sometimes I take a few pictures, other times I have sketched this scene.

The two paintings above inspired by this scene are very different in mood. "Invitation" was painted in acrylic using a full palette of color. And it was under-painted in complementary colors to give an extra depth to the painting. The red chair on the dock is in real life a white chair, but I painted it red because I felt that the scene needed a bright warm color to draw attention to the focal point. The reds in the trees and on the ground create a balance of warm colors throughout the painting, leading our eyes around the composition.

"Sun-Soaked Afternoon" a watercolor, is less about depth and detail and more about creating a mood: a hot, sunny, somewhat hazy day. The limited palette of harmonious colors (all lying next to each other on the color wheel) and lack of detail create a dreamy atmosphere. I omitted the hammock in this painting because I wanted less details in the composition. Color, especially the push and pull of warm and cool colors becomes more important than details when trying to set a mood. The fade in/fade out quality of the wet-on-wet watercolor technique lends itself nicely to the subtle blend of colors giving an overall dreamy, hazy feel to the piece.

Related post on limited color palette:

Related post on painting atmosphere:

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