Seated on Pink
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10x7.5"
This image is painted from a fully draped model stand. That, and having more than 20 minutes to work, led to this painting. Color is exciting for me so you can imagine how thrilled I was with the way this set was decorated! I may have changed some of the colors in this little piece to suit the color needs it presented to me here. There is also enough pattern to keep me happy too.
I realize the screen through which you are viewing this is a luminous one. It exaggerates the luminosity of transparent water. I think luminosity is its allure. But, I have a lot of complementary colors in this to further intensify the luminous effect. The blues are contrasted by the oranges, reds by greens and red violets by yellow greens. The black printed fabric is a dark foil for all of that. Even if the color is modified to slightly reduce the saturation and intensity, those relationships remain.
The kind of color brilliance seen here wasn't always available to watercolor artists. There was only a very limited selection of colors available until about 100 years ago. J. M. W. Turner and Winslow Homer started out with three colors: indigo (blue), red oxide, and gamboge (yellow). Together these pigments form a primary triad which mixes to whatever color one wants. However they are not the kind of bright color we are used to seeing, but they do give a very nice color range, albeit, a grayer one.
Turner changed the status of watercolor from a sketch medium to that of a medium for making a complete work of art. It was only after his reputation as a water colorist that manufacturers began making a wider palette available to watercolor artists. With more available to them they could explore color and color effect. It is known that Winslow Homer was never without a copy of Chevruel's book on color theory.
John Singer Sargent was the master of the luminous effect. One of my favorite examples is a painting of a white tent in the sunlight. (He achieves it in his figure painting too.) The tent is tinted to a light yellow; the shadows on the tent at the opening are violet while the interior is very dark. The surrounding trees are also very dark. The shot of red inside the tent completes the contrast to the green of the trees. It's the combination of complementary colors and strong value contrast that make it so effective.
It's really important for artists to look at a lot of art. One can find techniques for resolving concerns or interests one might have regarding one's own work.
I've written more on color theory here.