Monday, June 10, 2013

How to Get Saturated Colors

I'm often asked what I do to get such bright (saturated) colors. Here are my three aces:

Quality materials will be much more likely to produce quality work. I learned this while doing a commissioned portrait of a sweet little girl. The painting was not looking sweet no matter what I did. Frustrated, I put it down and headed to the art store. I got better paints. Those itty bitty tubes didn't seem worth the extra cash the first time around, but this time I was desperate. The painting almost magically turned a corner and so did my mood. The paint just seemed to glide on the canvas in a graceful dance! So ditch the kit and the Basics line. I'd say keep them for underpaintings and doodles but honestly you'll never turn back.

Though pigment to additive ratio is important, there's no medium that can replace effort. Layering and time is key. Even when it comes to rich color that looks brilliant coming out of a tube, it won't look as deliciously flavorful without it being put on a few times... layer after layer. Like an old boss told me while we were primping for a show, "honey, put your make-up on and them put it on again because it's going to be a looong night!"

"Thank You" in progress after three layers.

Last but certainly not least is color theory. It can not be forsaken. Constantly be scheming about what color compliments what and how to guide the eye around the piece. Red won't look as bright next to orange, but it'll jump out when it's beside a contrasting cool color like blue or green. Look at the final image below: where does the red pop the most? What colors are beside it? Are they cool or warm, dark or light?

Whatever your medium or craft, these are principles that stay the same. Subscribe to the feed to not miss my follow up to this blog: a list of my favorite brands and tools!

Happy painting!


Finished and still wet! The text has four layers of various red hues. The designs surrounding it have two layers, tops. Naturally, the difference is better appreciated in person or at least in as a scan.