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Tertiary colors are the neutral browns and grays that, when over used in a palette, are often referred to as "mud." Though sometimes banished from an artist's palette, they play a crucial role. Tertiary colors give more vibrant hues a chance to shine and play a starring role in compositions with more subtle ideas or moods behind them. Follow along with Mary Jane Begin in this installment of Artist at Work as she explores tertiary color, its best uses, and the creative possibilities available with this palette. She paints a landscape based on a reference photo, and provides tips along the way about establishing a ground, adding texture physically or digitally, building depth, and making your focal points pop.
Mary Jane uses the following materials in this course:
So as I let that sky dry, I'm going to look at my image and start to see, I want to build up that tone a little bit more. So, I'll find my very good brush. And typically, brushes that are sable are beautiful brushes, better than an acrylic brush. So I'll use my better brush here to bring, a kind of green color. Before I do that, I think I'll just build up the raw umber a little bit darker in this area and really make the value system clear for you.
And I'll try to also avoid the spots where I see the grass in the foreground, remember I talked about the composition here is based on three areas of focus: the cloud, and the tree, and the grass in the front. And the grass in the front's really important because it's going to lead our eyes to the tree and then the tree to the cloud and the cloud back to the grass. Without it, there just isn't enough interest to move your eye to the left side of the painting.
And when you're dealing with color, it's always about composition. You can't separate out your composition of your piece from the color itself. So I'm just going to deepen this a little bit further. So I'm understanding my value system. When I drew this I also made the tree pretty dark, but I'm going to darken that as well because it is in the image one of the darkest things and for me in this piece it'll also be the darkest thing, so I'll add a little more umber to it, and then I'm going to take that scrub brush and I'm going to pull out where I see sort of grassy tone.
And I might use a different scrub brush just so that I don't get mixed up with the cloud scrub brush which I want to keep really clean. So I'm going to look at, have a sort of rough reference of the pencil drawing underneath. I want to pull out a little bit of color here, it doesn't come off as easily when it's wet. So I'm just being really careful here to go back in and pull as much color as I can, and follow my guideline which is my pencil drawing underneath. And this is not the final textural mark it's really just to get an idea of where the light will be for this grass.
And there's a big dark patch here which is also directing the eye to the tree. It's a similar value, it's quite dark. We'll just pull that here. And, the last piece of sort of value that I have to think about in this raw umber tone, this tertiary color, is the band of trees along that little edge along the back here, and that's a pretty dark tone as well. So I'll just hit that with a little more raw umber and then I should be ready to hit that sky which is almost dry with another color.
We'll bring in a second color. And still it'll be a, a neutralized tone, it won't be a bright vibrant blue. So I'll put this this tree tone back here, and that's just this tiny little area. I wouldn't want it to be as dark, as the darkest part, which is the tree in the foreground right here, or the mid ground I should say. And I'm just going to pop in those little trees along the back, and then we'll deal with the blue.
And the blue that I'm using for this will be an Antwerp, and antwerp is a blue-green. And when you're building on kind of a neutralized system of colors, you want to start with a base of colors that really do harmonize. And when I say harmonize, they, they work well together, they already have a relationship. And I would submit that the brown that I'm using here has some amount of this blue in it, because it has a kind of greenish quality very much like the raw umber. So I'm just using this brush to sort of pop in a little bit of the tree action in the background, it's really far away.
We don't want to get too dark, if I get too dark it competes with this tree, so we want to keep them a little bit separate.
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