Expressive portrait painting in watercolor – with a download! Part 3

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Part 3 – Which colors to choose for a free painted portrait?

In free and contemporary painting, the choice of colors for an object is never realistic. Whether you paint a face in blue, pink or green is up to your imagination and your intuition. Freedom is almost limitless. On the one hand it is a lot of fun not to be restricted. But it can also be difficult because nothing is predetermined. Because in realistic painting nature shows the color and it can be taken over.

Consequently, you have to think in a free image design yourself which colors you choose for your motive. This raises the question of how you can proceed to find the right color for an exciting and lively portrait. When looking at the works of other expressive painting artists you will find that there are no wild colors but selected colors.

 

Express your feeling in the choice of colors for a face

Your feeling can help you in your choice of color. Do you want liveliness and excitement in your painting or peace and serenity. Closeness or detachment. Restraint or dynamics, etc. With colors you can express that very well. For example, blue stands for coolness, restraint and calm. Red and orange is powerful andexciting. Green is balancing and relaxing. Violet and pink signal courage, curiosity and creativity.  Yellow symbolizes warmth and closeness. It can still be carried out arbitrarily.

From the selected color to the color concept

Very harmonious color combinations arise for example with only one basic color. For this, a painted picture composition needs contrasts of light and dark tonal values. It gets exciting when cold and warm colors and pure and broken tones compete. Contrasts are important in a picture they make it interesting and vivid. Cool colors tend to pull back. Warm urge to the fore. Closely related colors combine. Distant colors contrast and differentiate. This should flow into an expressive painting.

How does that look in painting practice?

For example, if you chose blue as the base color for a portrait, you’ll need to mix warm, cold, and broken tones. Mixed colors are more interesting than ready mixes from the cup or tube. It’s best to create your own color charts where you can copy all the mixing results.

This is how you can proceed:

To a warm blue mix his cool neighbor color from the color wheel. For example, a cool green.
Experiment with more or less color pigments of both colors.
Make the same blends with this blue with the warmer color next to the color wheel. For example, a blue-violet.
And finally mix blue with its complementary color. (See below color circle). Play this procedure with other colors and create several color charts.

The colors on the right side of the color wheel are considered cold colors. And those on the left are considered warm colors. Complementary colors are opposite in the color wheel.
You can paint a face motif with just one base color and its blends, or even combine two. If you’ve created a blue color chart and one with orange, you can use both in one picture. Although not both should be equally represented in the picture. It is better to let only one of the two colors dominate. Use lighter blends for light and darker blends for shadows. Broken blends for backgrounds and also for deeper shadows. To create more excitement, you can add one or two colors that match the color tone in some places in your painting.

Watch my video from the second part of the article series “A portrait modern and expressive paint”. Here you will learn how you can see light and shadow so bright and dark in a photo template and begin to paint with light and shadow. The link can be found at the bottom.

Why a complicated color concept in a free expressive painting?

Now you might say that mixing these colors limits me. Actually, I want to paint more freely.
But even in a free and expressively painted picture uncultivated colourfulness should be avoided. Because even here an exciting and interesting color combination is required. The secret of good color combinations is to paint with just a few colors and with more tonal values and contrasts.

Especially if you have dealt with the color mixing you will be surprised what is possible.

Download the color charts here. Look at some of my color blends to the description of how I created the panels.

This article should only be a suggestion to find an entry into a modern and contemporary painting or to expand. Maybe I’m helping to inspire you. I would be happy about that. There is a huge playground which you can do with paint. So write me if you are interested, then I would like to report more about it.

I look forward to it!

Yours

Angela

PS: Painting a face is a bit more extensive, that’s why I’ve given the subject a 3-part series of blog posts.

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