Colored pencil on paper, 6.5" x 10"
Many artists are interested in exploring the effects of colors, for example Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Mark Rothko and Frank Stella. They have followed the path of scientists like Sir Issac Newton and J. W. Goethe in making charts and designs that demonstrate how colors interact with each other. In this series of drawings, I wanted to look at how many tones of browns I could make with just the two colors of a given complementary pair.
I drew a design that would give enough spaces to show a range of tones, and I repeated the design three times, for the red/green, blue/orange and yellow/violet pairs. The most highly saturated colors of each pair are in the center of the chart. I got them, along with the neutrals caused by blending those most-intense colors, by applying the hardest possible pressure on the pencil. Around the outside I colored a base layer of one of the pair of colors on each side of the design, with varying pressure on the pencil, from heaviest application at the bottom to lightest at the top. Then, I put a second layer of the complementary color on top of the first, with light pressure, to yield a range of tones of browns.
In this drawing, after coloring the center rectangle, I colored a base layer of red on the left, using less and less pressure in the spaces going to the top, and on the right, a similar base layer of green. Then, on the left, I colored an even layer of green over all the spaces, and on the right, an even layer of red.
The design shows a range of seven reddish-browns and seven greenish -browns, in contrast to the fully saturated red/green complementary pair from which they were made. It also demonstrates how the under-color influences the tone of brown that results from the blend, and how the most neutral of the resulting browns is achieved by a relatively even application of both colors in the pair.