I followed a suggestion from the artist and author, Betsy Dillard Stroud. She wrote a book titled The Artist’s Muse in 2006. The book comes complete with decks of cards that have creative art exercises listed on them. I tried one of them for the above self portrait. The instructions were to choose one color to represent your spiritual self; one to represent your physical self and a third to represent your mental self. Then you are to take those three colors and create a self portrait. I chose quinachridone orange (copper kettle) for physical self, quinachridone gold for spiritual self, and phthlocyanine blue (arctic ice) for mental self.
These three colors are the three you see on the top row of the image above. The other blobs are example mixtures of those three colors.
I was very skeptical as I began to work on this, but was presently surprised by the results very early on in the painting. It was relaxing to be concerned with only three colors (not as daunting as I supposed). More than any other exercise I’ve done, I quickly began to realise the importance of value as compared to the small role that color plays. I also learned a great deal about how I could stretch these three colors and what they looked like combined with each other. I also learned how they behaved and looked when applied dark, applied light and when I used them to glaze, one over the other. I will try more of these three color paintings in the future. Maybe I will choose my colors for other reasons for other subjects. Colors that I think look angry or colors that may reflect the colors of a rainy day. There’s no end to how I could assign three colors to a painting!
I rate this exercise worth trying!