Challenge #3 Explore a limited palette

Vinciane Lacroix, Result of this challenge applied to photography (CC-BY-SA)

If you like colors, you will be tempted to combine them in numbers, whether to decorate your living room or to make a canvas. Or else, you will not know where to start, and, for fear of making a mistake in taste, you will stay with blacks, greys and whites, in short, with neutral colors.

In the first case, you would take too many risks, because the more different shades there are, the more difficult it is to manage their interactions. In the second case, you wouldn’t dare enough, you would remain in the comfort of neutrality.

The solution is to start with a limited palette and explore all the harmonies it offers; this is the purpose of this third challenge.

You now know the GORC recipe: Getting inspired-Observe-Reproduce-Create.

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Françoise Lesage, Nature Obliges

Françoise loves color so much that she hardly dares to talk about it. Perhaps does she fear of reducing the emotion that color gives her? Would she feel like betraying the special relationship she has with color, a relationship she formed as a child? At that time already, contemplating a large box of colored pencils brought her immense joy.

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The tonic

#composition #tonic #dominant

In a painting, a photo, the dominant creates an atmosphere, it plunges you into a state of mind, it’s not a scoop. On the other hand, who among you knows the tonic?

The dominant, obviously covers most of the image. For example, in Monet’s painting “Rising Sun Impression”, the dominant is blue, a light blue, one would probably say blue-grey. Here we are, of course, on the water, in the humidity of the early morning. Note that we will refer here to the color range, not to the specific tone.

As for the tonic, it gives the image a boost. In small quantities, brighter and more saturated, it creates a focus in the image.

In “Rising Sun Impression”, the orange sun plays this role of tonic.

Claude Monet, “Rising Sun Impression”; the orange sun plays as a tonic in the grey-blue dominant painting.
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Art, color and travel

Every trip is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a colorful universe. Some places have a very strong graphic or chromatic identity: Jodhpur in India is blue, Burano near Venice is flashy, Toulouse is pink. For designer Anne Élisabeth, Paris is grey and white-chalk; London is steel and grey blue; Lisbon is ocher.

Would knowing the color of the place change life? Probably not, but to look for it, to feel it, to qualify it, probably.

In my travels I look for beauty. I find it in nature, landscapes, the city, light.

Who better captures the essence of beauty than artists, whether they are local or not? From then on, my travels always take me to an Art Museum, an exhibition or a gallery. With a sketchbook, a camera or more recently a telephone or a graphic tablet, I soak up the atmosphere and note my impressions,… or those of others. For a long time I have collected these images in an annual pocket calendar. During various meetings, they were the starting point for an exchange.

This article is an invitation to travel in order to nourish one’s imagination, vary one’s palette and confront one’s vision with those of others.

Before going into my travels, let’s see how travel has been essential for some great painters.

Vinciane Lacroix, “Agenda 2004”, trip to Normandy and Pas-de-Calais (CC-BY-SA 2.5)
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The Color of Royal Talens


This 36 pages booklet edited by Royal Talens, very practical, gives the rudiments of color theory and explains how to use them in painting. The book is divided into 4 chapters: (I) the formation of color, (II) the color properties, (III) the mixing of colors, and (IV) the use of color in painting. The illustrations, simple and numerous, are very educational. The booklet is partially available in English here and in several languages there.

Please find below a detailed summary followed by my own opinion. Note that I do not have any financial interest in promoting this guide.

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