Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cool Bird, Warm Colors

Warm Color Experiment in Progress

I have this t-shirt with peacock feather pattern on it, and it's black, purple and yellow. One day that shirt got me thinking about making a collage of a peacock with warm colors rather than the traditional cool blues, teals, greens and yellow greens. It was a challenge to take the peacock and swap out the colors, but it was also a reminder to me of one of my own lessons: It's not the color that makes the subject read as real, it's having the right values.

I tell my workshop students that if they can't always find the right color in their painted collage papers, that's OK. What you need to be sure you have is the right value. Light, dark, medium, darkest dark, lightest light.... that's what makes objects read as real and dimensional.

So, this "warm peacock" is not in its local color (the true color of an object or surface as seen in typical daylight), but the proper values are what makes it work and read as real.

Here I am about half way done, with the tail feathers and the background. the head and neck are still in an underpainting state. I plan to leave the nice drips in the lower left. Did you know that a peacock from behind is totally black and white? That can be seen in the lower right with an area that I created from old library book illustrations...

Stay tuned...


  1. Now that's a bird of another feather! Love it - and you're so right - it's the values (something my watercolor teacher tried to get me to understand and use for years!).

  2. yes, i'ts all about the values, and when you have trouble with that you just go back to black and white shading and you "get it" all over again. I like your opening line, I have to title this one... might just call it "Bird of a different feather" what do you think?

  3. You are so right! And Bird of a Different Feather suits it perfectly :)

  4. Wow, I love the colours and values of this gorgeous bird! Your work is amazing and very inspiring! Good luck with Starbucks!
    Sandi (Down Under)


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