Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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07/14/2005: "Designing with color pyramids: i.e. a method to my madness"

OK, I talk about this alot in my old Flesh Tones exhibit, but what I am sort of obsessed with doing is creating color pyramids. Some upright, some inverted or horizontal, but the basic idea of one long strip of color mirrored on the opposite side of the canvas by a smaller, apex splash of color (It's more on my mind than how close a cat's head is to the vicinity of certain lady bits for example).

I thought this image would be a good example of what I'm talking about. If you follow the color triangles you can see (in this case) six seperate triangles. That's a new record for me, though I do need to add one more daisy and match the color at the base of the mountains with her dress better in order for it to really work. I don't *always* do it, it doesn't work for some paintings...and I don't think the viewer is aware that I'm doing it, but it shows a little of where my mind's at when I'm working through a compostion.
BTW, the snow capped mountains are evened out by the white in the daisies but it doesn't really create a pyramid so I'm not counting that one.

woman-book-cat-diagram (42k image)

Replies: 4 Comments

on Friday, July 15th, RR said

:hehe: nope, you've lost me on this one. Draw one triangle and explain it to me again!

on Friday, July 15th, holly said

How interesting! This kind of planning is a major reason that I am not an artist (well, that and I can't draw). I don't know how you people employ these formal elements and still maintain any sense of spontanaiety or naturalness. Seeing the underpinnings of an artwork always makes me appreciate it that much more.

on Friday, July 15th, Elise said

OK RR, we'll this painting happens to have all inverted triangles, so…start with the blue one. There’s a long strip of blue paint at the top of the canvas, and then the book forms the small blue apex of the triangle (prior to having the book, it was the blue of the glacier that formed the apex)…The next one is the purplish color used in the base of the mountains in a long strip, the same color is reflected in a smaller patch in her dress. The green triangle’s base is formed by the row of trees and the patch of grass in the foreground forms the apex, and so on. It isn’t exact; sometimes the triangle is formed by three separate splotches of the same color positioned equidistance from each other. And again, in many of my canvases there will only be one or two color triangles, or none at all.

And Holly, the fact that seeing the underpinnings of an artwork helps you appreciate it more is probably what makes you such a great art history teacher (and scholar)!

on Saturday, July 16th, RR said

Ok, got it now. I was looking at the blue one and looking inside the triangle at the apex - which was the green of the grass. I see what you mean now, sorry for being stupid!!! lol (Have been brave enough to put a few new ones on my flickr feed on the left bar of my blog. Compositions totally unplanned - I allowed the paint to do most of the work)