Tag Archives: colour theory

It’s Physical

18 Oct

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Carrying on with the small full-colour monotypes that I did a few days ago. It was hard work being on my feet for hours on end. The lightbox is too high to sit down to work into the plates and I prefer to stand anyway; it’s a physical thing and I think my mark-making is better when I’m standing. Something to do with posture maybe? I’m working in sweeping gestures with rags and scrim (tarlatan) onto the inked perspex plate. I’m trying to get an expressionistic feel to my landscape studies from Pakistan, quite different to the anatomical details of my nudes.

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The slides show the first pressing from the yellow plate, the second with magenta overlaid and the final full colour print after the cyan plate has been printed, giving a range of colours from very dark blues, purples and greens to pale pinks, yellows and oranges. You have to know your colour theory to work with this medium. There is more detail about the method on my website here.

Vibrations of the Bauhaus.

17 Oct

Drawing: John reading in red and green.


This is a rare drawing of my usually nude model with clothes on, relaxing and reading. I drew this pose onto very large paper using rough chalky pastels and colour ink wash in a very limited palette of red and green, which are complementary colours on Itten’s colour circle. This sets up a tension between the colours in the eye of those looking at it. It’s 37 years since Johannes Itten’s book on colour theory was a set text in my first year at Art College and I’ve never been without a copy since. Not only was Itten a great theorist and teacher, but the courses he developed at the Bauhaus influenced the Foundation courses in British art colleges two generations later. His teaching was so influential it still vibrates through art practice all these years later.

Total Artgeek – Soft Pastels: Portrait of an Elder Man

18 Aug

Soft pastels: Portrait of an Elder Man.


I don’t often do portraits, preferring nudes and cats, but I’ve been trying harder to get a likeness over the past year because it’s good discipline and forces me to be not only very observant but also very accurate, which feeds into my professional development.

This is John, a life model I often work with but on this occasion I decided to draw a portrait instead of the figure. I used soft chalky pastels onto brown parcel wrapping paper. It’s a very large piece, about A1, and that gave me the opportunity to be very free with my mark-making. I tried to observe the Impressionist approach to colour theory and didn’t use any black; instead I juxtaposed complementary colours in the shadows. Despite the scribbly hatching, it was a very disciplined and planned piece. Oh, and it looks like him too. Result!

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