Painting the Colors of Autumn


Here in middle Tennessee, the scent of autumn is in the air. That means fall color is right around the corner. The reds, oranges, and yellows of our maples, oaks, and poplars are  a challenge for artists to capture. Paintings can look garish when too much color is pumped into them.

A better way to say "loads of color here," is to use plenty of neutrals. Ask yourself, "What can I sacrifice (in terms of color) to say what I want to say?"

In this example, "Make Like a Tree,"  there is no question that there is plenty of beautiful fall color happening out there. Yet, look how neutral the orange really is...

"Make Like a Tree," 11x14 plein air

By sampling the orange with my eye dropper tool in Photoshop, I see that I am no where close to full saturation of orange. The small white circle shows the most intense color I used; the little black circle is what color the back hillside is painted; and the yellow circle is my dark accent.

Full saturation of color is shown in the upper most right-hand corner of the color box.

In this sampling, the black circle is the yellow grass on the ground plane in front, and the white circle is the color used for the yellow leaves on the bushes just behind the orange tree.

The ground plane is slightly less saturated and lighter than the yellow leaves on the bushes.

By isolating the actual color used, you can see how neutral it is. For instance, here is an example of just how much orange I could have used. Oh my... that would be awful.

Finally, just for fun, I super-saturated the colors in the painting so that you could see the end result. A bit over the top for my world... don't you think?