Focusing on Color Combinations

Pre-Workshop Exercise:  Focusing on Color Combinations

As with all of the exercises, it is important to become aware of personal preferences as well as personal prejudices when it comes to shapes (linear or organic), contrasts (high contrast or low contrast), patterns and colors.  Have a small notebook or sketchbook with you whenever possible to jot down your observations.  This exercise focuses on color combination preferences.  What colors combinations (color schemes) do you find yourself responding to either in a positive manner or a negative manner.  Ignore all combinations that don’t evoke a reaction.  Make note, or snap a photo, of the color combinations you respond to and attempt to recreate the color combinations (both positive and negative) either when you observe them or when you return to the studio.  Forget subject matter!  Forget composition!  Forget thinking about a finished painting.  Think only about mental and emotional responses to color and color combinations.  Make note of the saturation of the colors.  Would you locate them on the outside of the color wheel or on the inside of the color wheel where they become more neutralized?

Observe the way that daylight automatically created warm and cool variations of all the hues. I am using hue and color interchangeably.

In addition, either rip out pages in magazines or snap photos of pages in magazines that illustrate color combinations you find striking or extremely unpleasant.

This exercise does a lot to develop your personal color signature in your work.  It will often change, but it will change in response to your growth as an artist.

Here are a few photos I snapped when color distracted me as I wandered about both in cities and in rural areas:


pokeberry leaves at sunrise

Illuminated Pokeberry Leaves at Sunrise


Kale Bean Dip Chris Carter Artist Kitchen Recipes 2016-06-17 16.07.01 900

provence book art journal Blue Wooden Door Roussillon Provence France chriscarterartist photography 062714 300 600

provence book art journal illuminated pine bark detail les bassacs provence france chriscarterartist photography 062214 300 600

provence book art journal pool reflections les bassacs provence france chriscarterartist photography 061614 300 600

provence book art journal lavender blooming les bassacs provence france chriscarterartist photography 062614 300 600

Maui botanicals photograph Chris Carter Artist January 2016 sq 1080

Maui chriscarterartist 2016-01-22 18.12.52

Mount Diablo burn 2013 California chriscarterartist photographs 600

Mount Diablo  evening glow 2013 California chriscarterartist photographs 600

Street Designs Marseille France ChrisCarterArtist photographs 2014 062914 600

Tiled Storefronts Marseille France ChrisCarterArtist 2014 600

Shuttered Door Marseille France 2014 ChrisCarterArtist 600

Maui chriscarterartist 2016-01-19 10.36.21 900

Maui chriscarterartist 2016-01-19 11.58.36 900

Maui chriscarterartist 2016-01-22 14.12.27 900

Maui chriscarterartist 2016-01-22 14.53.35 900

Maui chriscarterartist 2016-01-24 22.48.40 900

Have fun!  You will find that you will automatically seek more intuitive color in your work.  Neutrals will bring out the best in the more saturated colors.  Be observant of nature and how the color combinations change with each season.  Be aware of the color combinations in your kitchen cabinets, your refrigerator, your clothing closet and your junk drawer.  If you hang your wash, be playful in what you hang together.  (Remind me to tell you about the main character in a novel I began writing many years ago.  She photographed only wash drying in the wind.  She staged her photos by her choices of clothing shapes and colors.)

Keep adding to your notebook of color combinations and notes.  Please bring these notebook/sketchbooks to the workshop with you.  Thanks!