Monday, September 19, 2011

September 22- Extract Nature’s Colors

Let nature inspire the colors you use.

The colors of nature are truly the inspiration for the way we think about and use color, of course. In this class I want you to spend some time making a record of various colors you see together in the natural world, extract color charts from what you observe, and then create an interesting abstract painting using the charts. 

Perhaps you see cottonwood leaves turning colors, or the grasses in the front yard. Maybe you’re inspired by a ristra on your deck or some flowers, or weeds that are beautiful (the colors can be!) Remember—not the pot on the porch, not the paint on the wall—only natural colors. It’s best if these are strictly related colors (i.e. not the sky behind the trumpet vine, only the colors of the plant itself; the flowers and their leaves, not the warm, dark dirt below them.) 

You can see in the photo how I've chosen some of the colors from the trumpet vine and arranged them into a palette of colors above the photo. You can do one of several things: 
  • You might want to take good color photos that are fairly current before this class and print them out to bring with you.
  • You could make some color studies on location and bring photos with you of the things you studied. This could be more practical if you decide the entire cottonwood tree is your best inspiration, for instance. 
  • You may alternatively choose to bring items to study in class, perhaps a ripe pear, a beautiful flower or weed, some leaves on a branch, whatever you like.

In class we’ll make a palette of colors from nature, whether you use a photo or work from life—but the trick is, we will NOT paint those references. Instead, I want you to find beautiful harmonies of colors and analyze the proportions of each one, as well as analyzing the dark and light, warm or cool colors, and then use them to make a color chart.  

From this you will paint an interesting abstraction in class. Do I hear someone muttering that you don’t like abstracts, that they never work out? Well, never fear--this exercise will give you a template to use, so that won’t be a problem.

To do the class you'll need a clean, white surface large enough to accommodate a palette of five to seven color swatches, as well as whatever paper or canvases you want to use to paint the abstractions. I have templates for the experiment in abstraction that are 7" x 8" or 6" x 6"-ish, which you can adapt to make larger. I suggest keeping it somewhat smaller in size, however, because if you're inspired by this experiment, you might want to make more than one palette and/or abstraction. It's really quite interesting to see the results.

So come this week with an adventurous spirit and see what happens! I'm sure it will be fun and inspiring! 

As usual, the class is $25.00, payable at the door. If you plan to attend, please RSVP now.  
The studio opens about 11:00, and class is from 11:30-2:30. (Feel free to bring your lunch. We have a microwave.) Remember, we're at the new location at CCF.
See you Thursday!


  1. Wish I could be there this Thursday but I have to work. I always learn something new from you, Deborah. You are such a valuable resource. Thank you.

  2. Thanks, Vicki, that is SO nice to hear. :) Join us when you can.