Sunday, May 05, 2013

Using Complements to Create Color

I have a collection of old photographs. Some are family and some are from various auctions where people seem willing to sell their family history for a song. I like the look of old photographs, especially silverprints. Many of the subjects who posed have a solemn, enigmatic gaze. The mouth is almost always closed because it's not easy to hold a smile for the length of time a box camera required. The edges are often blurred and there is a sense of mystery.

I admit to being fascinated by the fact that these people are gone, yet they lived and breathed and walked the earth and someone cared enough to make a record of a day in their life. Yet no one cared enough to save that piece of history.

These old photos have no copyright, they belong to no one but themselves; they are fair game for the artist who wants to practice her craft and experiment.

It's a challenge to create a color image from a black and white reference photo. I can think of only one way to do it and that is to use color theory. Decide on the color of the light-- in this instance I chose yellow and the color of the shadow will become it's complement: violet. Of course local color will affect the color of everything too but making a conscious decision about the color of the light in the beginning helps to speed the process.

I like to add some fun stuff in the background to make it more interesting when I can't see much of what is behind the subject.

11" x 14" oil on linen
Dr. Wright


TBPA said...

Nora, first happy to have found your blog. I find it fascinating the thought process behind a painting. I also feel for those abandoned photographs...even consider bring them home and putting them on the mantel as family :) I wonder what their life was like and if they ever imagined a stranger looking at them many years later as we do.

TBPA said...

Nora this is Nicole H...cant figure out how to not have it post me as a blog I take care of for a group I belong to!