Category Archives: Colour Research

Some Experimental Stuff with Abstracts

As I mentioned when looking at Hadi Baghlaf’s work, much of his abstract work has the suggestion of characters and subjects waiting to be pulled out of them. I wasn’t entirely sure how this contributed to my portrait work to begin with, but it did open me to a different view on colour and brushstroke and abstract form.

abstract 1 abstract 2 abstract 3 abstract 4 abstract 5

Rather than create my own abstracts I looked at some of Baghlaf’s. My reason for this is because if I made my own for this task then I would likely end up unintentionally create intentional forms upon which to develop subjects. using another persons work means I go into the process with a clean mind. Obviously I cant do anything with these works since they are Baghlaf’s work and that would be plagiarism, but as I said this was a simple experiment into what I could do with my own backgrounds, colours and forms. I learnt a lot about how I can loosen up and vary my colour palette, or get messier with brush and form, and still have a subject within the painting. Obviously Baghlaf’s work is too abstract to draw conclusive form from, but I’m a big believer in using extremes as learning examples and then toning back when incorporating it.


(Just to reiterate: None of the paintings are mine. They belong to Hadi Baghlaf. I merely used them as a learning experiment and sketched over them.)


Artist Review: Hadi Baghlaf

Hadi Baghlaf

Hadi Baghlaf is a bit of a step away from the other artists I have looked at. He is very much an abstract artist and creates these works shown above that have no subject other than interpreted emotions. I am looking at his work less to study it, and more to provoke inspiration within myself.

I don’t have much else to say about this artist other than I enjoy his rough and messy style. What is rather interesting about this is that the abstract shapes sometimes hint at potential subjects. For instance, the large one above with the blue, orange, and black suggests towards the profile silhouette of a figure. It might be an idea to try and utilise this idea and use it to pull characters out of abstract backgrounds, rather than build a background around a character.

Artist Review: Mike Savlen

Mike SavlenMike Savlen is a great example of using a limited palette of surreal and contrasting colours to create harmonious paintings. Favouring bright ochres and blues, I believe it is the way Savlen chooses his in-between colours that gives his imagery dynamic balance.

Whilst it would be conventional to travel from ochre to blue via green, Savlen instead takes the long way around the colour wheel and goes through red and purple. This grants him access to a wider range of colours and thus softens the transition between the two (very strong colours). There are some greens present in the paintings, but these are more to highlight the blues than to transition between colours.

This unusual colour application could prove very useful when it comes to create harmony in my own works. Granted, I might want to create violent clashes of colour to reflect character, but I will be keeping this thought-process in mind.

Artist Review: CATF


I don’t have a proper name for this artists, but I found their work here while searching for artists who make use of bold colour and shape. I am in love with their work, it blends what I like best about Veronique Meignaud and Aaron Smith into works full of life and movement and character.

The artist is not worried as much about colour or realism as many artists and instead transform the subject into a whirlwind of movement. There is almost a music to the pieces and they suck viewers wholly into the events they portray.

I would love to replicate some of the techniques and applications seen in this artists work, but I have often found in difficult to replicate such rough brush-work digitally. Getting digital paint to react to what is already on the canvas very tricky and usually can only be done is slight mixing around edges, you cant get the streaky effect or on-canvas-mixing. I am going to use this as an opportunity to have another go at trying to make it work though and see what happens, if anything it will be a nice break from portrait studies.

Artist Review: Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith (who also goes by the online handle Mucksnipe) is another artist who I have found inspirational to this project. Though not as bold and direct as Veronique Meignaud, to create dynamic portraiture. His subjects are often very cool, with only a couple of warm colours upon them, and he prefers to use pastel colours compared to the vibrancy seen in Meignaud’s work.

What really stands out to me though is his brush work. He uses strong strokes and thick paint to give his portraits a tantalizing texture. This texture is what holds the attraction of these portraits I believe. For me certainly, it makes me want to reach out and touch with canvas. Whilst the colours give the subject their character, the brushwork gives the painting itself life.

Whilst his colours might be too pastel and messy for my liking, I will be using Aaron Smith’s work as inspiration towards my texture techniques and brushwork in future.

Artist Review: Veronique Meignaud

Veronque Meignaud

Veronique Meignaud was one of the artists that sparked this project into being and really motivated me to improve myself. Introduced to her work through her portrait series in Dishonored. She uses as tempest of lines and shapes to fill her pieces with a storm of energy. However I think what really pours life and personality into the paintings is her use of colour.

Pouring a spectrum of both warm and cool colours into paintings, she creates a clash of emotion that is somehow also balanced out. These colours and shapes reflect and build upon the personality of the subject and give a viewers a profound idea of what they might be like. This is especially prevalent in her work for Dishonored, and I intend to preform some more precise studies relating her portrait techniques to the subject character.

I admit I struggle to properly describe Veronique Meignaud’s work an its effect on me with words. But it has changed my view on colour and composition and I will be keeping her work close at hand for visual inspiration.

Further Colour Inspiration

So I looked a bit more into inspirations for colour and texture. Still looking at nature, this time I turned my attention to sunlit clouds and opals.

Clouds Opals

I am not so sure about the clouds, the textures are a bit too soft and the colours pastely. I am very fond of the Opals though, especially the Dragon’s Breath Opals and Black Opals. The strong saturation and contrasting hues and tones are visually striking and dynamic. I will be continuing to look at these along with the Nebulae.

An inspiration

So I may be getting ahead of myself here but I had an inspiration for later in the project, for when I truly begin experimenting with Expressionism, colour, and shapes. I had been worrying a lot about how I would study the techniques and ideas behind it, and then replicate it my own work. It’s easy enough to see how a finished piece looks, but it is much harder to then apply that look.

And then, browsing the internet as I am want to do, inspiration struck: SPACE (the final frontier). Nebulae are full of spectacular colours, shapes, and ideas. I believe using them as inspiration will be key to developing a style into my more advanced works later on.Moodboard 1 Moodboard 2 Moodboard 3For the moment I will continue to focus on improving my understandings of anatomy and more realistic colours, but I will be studying the form and colour present within nebulae on the side in preparation. I will also be looking into brushes inspired by the form and textures found in nebulae.


Colour Studies

Continuing my exploration of colour and tone, I have discovered that a key area in which I struggle is reading colour on a subject and matching it. Thus I have been exploring a variety of exercises in order to try and improve this. The first of which involved me trying to pick the colours for myself, then using the colour picker to get the actual colour, and comparing the two.

Julia 1 Louise 1 Tone 1

As the results show I don’t seem to have difficulty with getting the values right, the brightness is usually matched well. Hue (which I referred to as Tone in the images by mistake) also can be close to the original, or at least within the same range and so not too noticeable a change.

Saturation, however, seems to be my greatest downfall. More often than not it seems I go in the opposite direction, pulling colour and life out of the painting by using saturation levels which are too low. I tried to rectify this in the last study, picking what I though was the right colour and then adding more saturation. I added too much saturation and made the colours pop too much. This is error can have its advantages in adding a stylised look to a painting, but it should not be aimed for yet.

I plan to do more of these studies to see if I can improve on my shortcomings over time, and then hopefully start experimenting with altering the colours in an imaginative fashion.

Experimenting in Colour

skin fun 1Following up from my previous study into skin tone and colour interaction, I spent some time messing around in that range of colour between red and yellow to see what would happen. This exercise was more about the process than the end result, and I’m not really sure how to document my findings here.

I certainly better understand how that range of colour works. Adding more yellow makes the colour look almost green, especially when desaturated. Desaturating reds gives the illusion of purples and blues. Desaturated oranges offer healthy Caucasian, adding more saturation bronzes it. Black skins benefit more from desaturated cool colours based in the redder side of orange. These are just some of the discoveries i made in my aimless meander through the colour palette.