Paint Basket Art Forum

Oil Painting => Oil / Acrylic Colour Mixing Questions => Topic started by: randy on August 01, 2013, 12:25:29 AM

Title: gray color in a painting
Post by: randy on August 01, 2013, 12:25:29 AM
hello everyone,, hope all is good..  i was just wondering , are grey or muted colors located  in certain parts of a portrait such as jaw line on darker areas.. or can they be rite up front on the nose ,,, i was just wondering if there were any rules as to where to use grey color in  a composition or does the picture or subject dictate this,... thankyou all
Title: Re: gray color in a painting
Post by: randy on August 01, 2013, 05:11:09 PM
maybe i should rephrase this question.   are receding colors usually considered to be gray colors?
Title: Re: gray color in a painting
Post by: nolan on August 01, 2013, 09:34:00 PM
This is a complex question to answer, but I will do my best.

First I think we need to just ensure we have the same definition of gray and know the difference between gray and a shadow colour as this will tell us where to look for each.

Gray is any colour that has white added to it, eg. red plus white will give red's gray (which we know as pink). In other words gray colours are better known as pastel colours.
A shadow colour has the opposite colour added to it, plus white if required. We get shadow colour when there is less light falling on an object.

A gray colour can be found anywhere in the highlight to shadow areas as by adding white we are simply changing the tonal value of the colour. The overall tonal value in a scene will depend on the amount of light in the scene. The tonal value of an area is dependant on the strength and direction of the light.

In a scene like a landscape we will be adding more white (in the sky mix) to make the object recede so in that situation the distant object are grayer. The reason they are grayer is because of the lace curtain effect and the fact that the colour of the sky has white in it. Having said that you will also find grays in the foreground as well as in the mid distance as well. The bark of a tree would be a good example. It depends on the actual colour of the object. Strong light also tends to wash out colours, making them look grayer.

In your example of the portrait you will more likely find the gray colours in the highlight to mid tone areas, but you can find grays in the shadow areas as well if there is bright ambient lighting.
In the darker areas like underneath the jaw you will use shadow colours to darken / mute those areas.

To show the cheek is receding away from the viewer you will use a shading. That shading may be lighter to the back or darker, it all depends on where the light source is.

So to try and give you a definitive answer to whether receding colours are considered gray the answer is yes and no ;D
If you have heaps of distance, like in a landscape then yes the distant objects will be grayer due to the extra white in them. If you don't have a lot of distance then the farthest object / surface colour will be dictated by the light source strength and position.

In other words there are situations where your distant objects could be brighter or darker and the foreground objects more gray.

The best way around this question remains close observation of the subject at hand. Look and compare - Look at the area you are painting now and see what is the difference between this area and the area I am moving towards. Is it grayer (has a lighter tonal value and needs more white), is it darker (needs more pigment or some of the next colour down on the colour wheel), is it in shadow (needs some of the opposite colour), is it brighter (needs some of the next colour up on the colour wheel) or a combination of these.

I hope that helps and made sense?
Title: Re: gray color in a painting
Post by: randy on August 01, 2013, 10:13:08 PM
Has to be the the best answer i have heard... Answered my question and more... Thankyou very much....
YOU ARE THE MAN! O0 This is why objects in the forground are darker and have more pigment or color, and things in the background move up in tonal range flushing the color away and give it the atomspheric perspective that give the illusion of distance... I see now but this theory can be applied to almost anything to show depth...Man you make things look so simple!
Title: Re: gray color in a painting
Post by: nolan on August 06, 2013, 09:25:20 PM
I see now but this theory can be applied to almost anything to show depth...

I see a light just went on  :yippee:

We use exaggerated atmospheric perspective all the time to create the illusion of depth in our paintings - it is easily one of the artists best tricks in his box  O0