My students often ask me, "How do you see all those colors?" Then they usually follow up with, "All I see is a _______ (fill in the blank: white flower, grey wall, brown mountain, blue sky, green tree, etc.) The truth is the world is made up of mixtures of color.
Students especially seem to struggle with whites. What colors do you use to paint something white? The answer is both simple and complex. Whites have all three of the primary colors in their shadow areas. Look at the peonies above. Can you see areas that are more yellow, more red (pink), and more blue?
What if I do this?
This is the same photo, just with the contrast and saturation levels raised. Now you can see all that color, right? It was there all the time. You just have to look for it. Scroll back up to the first photo and see if you can see the reds, yellows, and blues now.
Artists train their eyes to see color in places other people miss. I don't need to saturate my photos to see the color--it's almost like my eyes have a built-in saturation filter.
Below is my finished painting. You can see that what I paint is somewhere in between the regular image and the saturated one. Nature is masterful at blending and creating complex colors. It's an artist's job to bring out and emulate that complexity so others don't miss it.
I have always loved postcards. Antique ones in plastic sleeves in gift shops. Fancy reproductions of favorite paintings in museums. Glossy photos in tourist traps. I love them all.
But I especially love painting my own postcards. Often when I go out of town I'll paint a postcard to send to a friend, or to my dad, someone I know will appreciate the effort and the artwork. I have painted postcards on a street corner in Tijuana, with a circle of kids looking over my shoulder, in San Francisco and Monterey Bay with tourists passing by and the wind whipping. In Jackson Hole, Wyoming when I was there for a watercolor workshop. In Hawaii last fall. At Bear Lake with friends. In faraway England, when I was studying at Cambridge, and more recently when my husband and I were overseeing a group of study abroad students ourselves.
A few weeks ago (BC = Before the Corona Virus) I was at my dad's house in his study, and he pulled something out of a frame on his desk so I could see what it was -- a postcard I had sent him from London four years ago. I was so touched that he had not only kept it, but framed it. Has kept it on his desk all these years. That is the magic of a painted postcard!
Here's why I love painting postcards:
That's one reason I created this Creative Connections Watercolor Workshop/Kit Creative Connections greeting card workshop/kit. To give you the joy of creation, without all the fear of getting started.
I am an artist and art instructor working in water media. Just knowing I can watch colors run together makes it worth getting out of bed every morning! Helping students capture the same excitement is equally rewarding.