While I’m attracted to art that uses pure color, I find my own palette is limited to more blended tones. I suffered over this during the early years of my painting career thinking it was a great flaw in my work. It concerned me how predictable my color scheme had become, and still, I couldn’t change it. At this point, I was a watercolorist studying the way other watercolorists used color in their work. It was frustrating trying to emulate them. No good would ever come from painting in someone else’s style.
All of this changed after attending a Frank Stella lecture where he addressed this very issue of color. I look back on it now and realize this was a turning point for me. He spoke about two kinds of artists…those who used primary colors and those who used secondary colors. Stella knew at an early age, he was partial to bright, pure colors by the crayons he chose. I knew the opposite since I was more comfortable with quiet softer tones. It wasn’t the lack of understanding color that influenced my work, but something more basic. I’m a secondary color artist and it had nothing to do with talent.
So how does this affect my art? I’ve come to realize my art has this undertone of moodiness because of my palette. This is something I want to explore since my current work is about predators and victims. The colors I use have a greyed down uniformity, and instead of wishing it different, I have come to embrace the possibilities it offers. The trick is to keep the paint clean and sharp-edged; to avoid muddy passages that compromise the integrity of the composition.
Now when I intentionally place bits of bright color in my work, it creates a movement or depth of field I could never achieve without it. Knowing how I process color has advanced my art emotionally and intellectually and has given me a greater insight into the way other artists approach their work.