Color is always an important aspect of art — well, for most artists, that is. I recently saw a painting hanging on display that was nothing but solid black with a bit of dark red brushed over it. It wasn’t a painting I cared much for, but to each his or her own, right?
As I work toward becoming more painterly, more impressionistic, and more imaginative in my landscape art, I’ve been going over lots of information about color in oil painting — how to use it to add lights and shadows, how to use it to create mood and atmosphere, how to blend, how to soften, how to use color to create different effects.
I’ve done monochromatic paintings before, and I think it’s an excellent exercise to review single-color schemes from time to time. That was my assignment when I went to my easel on Friday morning.
Create a monochromatic landscape using a single color with only the addition of white, gray, and black.
I loved this assignment and was excited to grab one of my toned canvases and get to work. But what color should I choose? I’ve been doing autumn scenes since September, and I want to keep doing them — but painting an autumn scene meant using orange.
Well, maybe I could have used browns instead, but I wanted to be adventurous. And so, orange it was. I mixed my own orange using medium yellow and vermillion. And off I went… right into the midst of a fiery forest.
As I painted, I thought of the devastating fires raging in California. I thought of the billowing smoke. I thought of leaves withering and curling in the heat, and I thought of a pathway leading away from the destruction.
This is very different from my usual reflective landscapes. It wasn’t what I really started out to paint, but for me, impressionist painting means following what I feel, going wherever the painting takes me.
As a monochrome study, Fire in the Forest exceeded my expectations. It’s a little bit frightening, and maybe that’s why I like it. I definitely feel something when I view this painting.
I feel fear, I feel heat, I feel danger.
Orange definitely took me to places I hadn’t expected to go, but I’m glad I followed. I think. Maybe not. Maybe this painting led me somewhere I don’t want to be in the world of art.
But…more of those thoughts tomorrow. Until then, I’d love to know your feelings about my Fire in the Forest painting.