Artists and Colour
Every artist I can think of has their own style, even though they may not recognise it themselves. If we have been around the local art scene for a number of years, then artists work is often very recognisable to us - their style becomes a signature.
As well as signature styles, there is also a signature use of colour that many seem to have. It's all a part of how we develop over time. Some artist regard themselves as colourists and tend to use lots ofcolour, whereas others are limited in their use of it and use colour more of an accent than being the focus.
There is no doubt that certain colours have certain effects on us. Some colours or combinations thereof will not allow you to rest - they demand attention. A good red-based painting will draw attention every time at a show of mixed works, but may be difficult to live with once we get it home. On the other hand a calming almost monotone work may be easy to ignore in a gallery, but will calm your living area at home.
It's a well-worn phrase that there are 'no rules in painting' and that's right as far as producing work is concerned. However, if we want people to like what we produce and buy it, then we have recognise that there are things that work and things that don't. Whether it is abstract or traditional work, colour themes are very important. Paintings can be colourful but liveable too if used in the right way. Indiscriminate use of colour can make a painting hard to look at and can take away any focus that may have been intended by the artist.
Of course paint manufacturers would love us to purchase all 100 colours in their extensive ranges, but in reality it doesn't help the artist at all. Having a limited core palette of about eight or so colours and a group of colours mainly for highlights is a good way to go. It will allow you to learn to mix any colour you need and having such a limited palette will tend to unify the whole painting - it really does work.
Also, while colour charts are interesting things, if you have to refer to them continually, it will ruin your painting flow completely. Learn to mix colours and it will become intuitive and a part of you as an artist - always having to refer to charts will stunt your growth and enjoyment.
There are always questions about brands of paint. The answer is simple - use the best you can afford. Most of the more expensive brands are good and over time you will choose a favourite. Try comparing the cheaper and the dearer stuff and you will see the difference for yourself - always a good thing.
Colour is a wonderful thing but it is not the pinnacle of the painting process - that belongs to tone. Once we get tone right we can paint wonderful things in just one colour! More of that later.
Caption - A painting of Goolwa produced on site. The limited palette produced a unified look to the work and if you look closely, you can see the same colours in the sky and water. The painting is all about the drama of afternoon shadows on the land and water and not so much the accuracy of colours.