My love affair with colour

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My love affair with colour

As many of you know, I love colour. Every piece of artwork I make starts with me thinking about the colours I want to use and the overall effects those colours will have on each other. Am I looking for a particular feeling? Is that feeling bright, joyful, sombre, cheerful, subtle etc? As usual, it is normally dependant on my mood.

I am part of a fabulous support group where we discuss our work, what it means to us and how we tell people our story through our art. Just this week we talked about how my art makes me want to get up every day and make art. What is the driving force? Why do we feel so compelled and how did our life journey bring us to this point in our art? For me it is most definitely colour.

But all of us have stories about making art which differ, how making our art makes us feel and the difficulties we have each faced in producing work which we are satisfied with.

My friends said that the only time they ever see me really happy and animated is when I am either talking about the three wonderful men in my life (of course) or when I am talking about art. What they don’t see, unless they take a class with me, is how fascinated and involved I get with my work when I am making it simply because the way colours work with each other, something I simply love experiencing.

My studio is crammed full of every colour imaginable and in most media, too. I am a bit of a squirrel and definitely suffer from shiny object syndrome. I see something new and shiny in the artworld and I simply must try it. This means that I play with oils, acrylics, watercolour, inks, pens, pastels (both oil and chalk), wax, silk and fabric dyes. There’s such a lot to get messy with.

For my oils and watercolours, I tend to use Holbein, which I bought from Blick Art Materials (AKA Dick Blick’s) in the USA but can also be purchased in the UK through Jackson’s Art Supplies. I love how buttery they are, and the colours are incredible. For acrylics I use Liquitex Heavy Body and Chroma Atelier Interactive Range, which are fabulous, and Daler-Rowney System 3 paints, which are so flexible I can also use them in printmaking, simply by adding print medium to slow down the drying time.

For my printmaking, apart from System 3, I also use Akua Intaglio screen-printing. For lino prints and collagraphs I use Intaglio Printmakers Etching Inks, Caligo Safewash and System 3 again.

I love the depth of colour you get with inks and when playing with them my “go to” brands are Schmincke Aero Color, which is often used for airbrushing; Liquitex and Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic Inks. Posca Pens are

another great favourite of mine as they are so versatile. They work over acrylic paint, watercolour paint and acrylic inks.

Recently I was talking to a lady who had tried pastels for the first time and really wasn’t happy with the results. She had bought a student grade chalk pastel and the final work was dull, muddy even. I have written a blog all about pastels if you want to know more but having gone through the student grade pastels and been left wanting, I now only use Sennelier and I stick with Sennelier’s own paper, too.

The colours are vibrant, and the paper is designed to work with the pastels so why make my life more difficult?

When silk painting I use Jacquard products plus Quick Color Microwave Dyes, which produce sheets of kitchen paper covered in dye which I then iron and use for printmaking or mixed media pieces.

I haven’t made anything with silk of late. It tends to be something I do in classes these days, particularly with children as they can get some fantastic results really quickly. I have a huge stock of scarves I prepared to give out as gifts so when that stock has run down, no doubt I will make some more.

Silk Ring

Encaustic wax is another medium I tend to use only with students these days. I use cheap wax crayons designed for children plus “artist quality” oil paints to get the colours I want for experimenting, but when making a proper piece of artwork (i.e. one I hope to sell) I will use R&F encaustic sticks simply because the pigment and the vibrancy of colours are the best hands down.

I realise that the details above focus on the products I use but clearly that is only part of the story. What I love is what I can achieve with these amazing products and that is the key point. You need to spend time really experimenting with products to figure out what you like about them, how you could use them to make artwork you love and decide if a product is right for you or maybe will take you off in a new direction.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will see that I post my artworks which are full of colour. What is it that makes me want to do more, play with colour every day? Why am I so drawn to it?

Put simply, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Putting colours next to each other, over each other, under each other, you never know what you are going to get. Every time the outcome is different. Sometimes it doesn’t work but when it does, it is so exciting, I have been known to squeal with delight.

My work draws hugely from nature, and I do love circles. I follow divers on Facebook and Instagram as well as keeping fish myself. I also follow photographers who take images of birds and I spend far too much time watching the many birds which visit our garden.

I have a small collection of feathers which I have collected from our garden too, mainly from magpies, but we get parakeets flying through too and they occasionally leave a wonderful green feather or two for me. I keep these feathers near me in my working spaces to make me smile. When playing with colours I do love placing them next to each other to see them vibrate, making work look as if it is out of focus because the colours play tricks on your eyes.

I follow other artists who use bright colours in their work and take inspiration from their use of colour placement. There is always something new and fascinating to see.

I have illustrated this blog with photos of works I have produced: paintings; screen prints and some of the latest additions to my art making, leather journals with original art linings.  

I hope that you enjoy looking at how I have used colour and the direct ways I have used colour not only as juxtaposition but also through the different types of works I produce.

NB Just for the record, I do not get paid to endorse any of the brand I have mentioned above. These are all products that I use and genuinely believe in.

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