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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:
Okay, so now we'll add the blue. And again, on a painting I use different size brushes and it doesn't matter what the medium is, you know, don't use the same tool through your entire piece, because if you do, again, it's like the same texture, the same tone, the same value, creates monotony, it's not as interesting. So, I'm going to grab a little bit of my Antwerp, my blue-green blue. And I'm going to drag this into this area that I used the paper towel on.
And you can still see the texture of that raw umber under there, and that adds interest. And I did that for a reason. I could have kept it really smooth if I had chosen to, but I liked when I did the pencil drawing. This sort of textual quality to the cover. I really thought that looked that looked nice. So here I'm also looking at the piece. There's a slight gradation of tone from the top of the sky to the base. So I'll add a little bit of water and keep this color lighter as it get down towards the tree line.
You might say, well it's looking like a green sky. And it is. At this moment, the piece is still pretty harmonized, the colors relate to each other, it doesn't look like that sky yet. But that's just because these are base tones that I work on top of and I'm trying to keep this a tertiary paining, a painting with cool browns and warm browns and sort of grayish tones. This green almost, has a sort of gray cast to it when it dries. And you can see the cloud in the sky is not white right now, it's blue, because the paper was white underneath where I was painting.
Now I can go in with my scrub brush, or I can use a, I'll use the one I used before, and I'll just pull out that cloud again so it's visible. You can see it's turning white again. Regardless of the type of material you're using to work with, if you're using transparent color digitally or traditionally, you always want to make sure there's a little bit of that base ground color there so that it's relating to the rest. If it was completely removed, it would just be the white of the page and suddenly, it will look first stark and it wouldn't look related.
When you're making a piece, it doesn't matter what the palate is, you always want the colors to work together as a family otherwise the piece of, you know one color will pop, and unless it's your focal point, it's not ideal. Okay, so that's a cloud, and the last bit of color that I would want to put in here is the literal ground, the landscape ground. And then the little tree.
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