Working with Color

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Bright color paired with value can make a striking painting. The first stage of this pink flamingo was loosely and abstractly painted across sketched shapes. (Photos of the images in this post were taken outdoors, so lighting is inconsistent.)

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Feathers are suggested with form shadows using color, still quickly and loosely painted.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Perhaps difficult to see, the right side of the head and neck is paler than the left. This was achieved with water applied first to the illuminated (right) side and then red paint quickly added dry-on-wet into it from left (where paper was still dry) to right. I allowed paint to bleed across sketched shapes where dark value would cover excess pigment.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Original intent was to paint a predominantly dark background (like top right), which on its own would’ve nicely emphasized the bird through value contrast. But that had the risk of being flat and thus boring. So, using the white and black in this bird’s beak and its bright red color as a spring board, I painted – on dry paper – bright yellow-green to contrast the beak and red feathers, then transitioned to rich dark blue-green and finally to a tropical blue. The vivid background colors balance the bird’s bright chroma, and the dark value contrasts everything. This background was painted intuitively and very quickly to keep edges soft and interesting, but you will note that some green overlaps red at the lower neck. This can be lifted easily.

Pink Flamingo, watercolor, 12×16″ ©Bivenne Staiger

With its eye and beak added, the bird comes to life.

3 thoughts on “Working with Color

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