14 Apr On Colors and Composition
If there is a higher being it is an unconscious one. A tree never worries about the house it blocks from view.
— Ken Kewley
“Pure colors are rare,” he says.
“Look at great paintings. Look for primary colors, colors that can be easily named, i.e., green, orange, etc. Usually they are not found. Most colors are without names.
“Most colors are adjusted and fine tuned—colors found by a need to compose the whole, each color playing a role.
“Color changes depending on the size of the form and its neighbors. Whatever the subject, the shapes and colors that make up this subject also make up an abstract design—a composition.”
A skilled artist chooses colors like a playwright chooses characters, Kewley says, adjusting each color to play a specific role. Some colors play leading roles, some supporting. Some are protagonists, some antagonists.
The “play” that results is a composition, a “balance of unbalanced elements.”
“There can be lights within the dark masses and darks within the light masses. These masses must form shapes that play their parts in making up a composition.”
But the comparison to a playwright suggests the artist is more deliberate and less “instinctive” than she in fact is—more an authority, architect, and creator. To that extent, the comparison is misleading: the artist is not the source of her composition; she’s just a mirror.
“Look at your palette after a bout of painting,” Kewley says.
“There will be colors you would never have consciously placed next to each other, but this is similar to nature. It is what makes nature so visually exciting.
“If there is a higher being it is an unconscious one. A tree never worries about the house it blocks from view.”
Above: Daffodils. Oil on canvas board. 8 x 10 inches. Ships framed and ready to hang.