Composition is always the hardest and yet the most interesting part of picture-making, once you have mastered the basics of drawing everything else. When you are only concerned with form and tone the problem is difficult enough but, when you come to add colour, it introduces a new element that will make a huge difference to your final design. Here some of the things that you will have to take into consideration.
Some artists use colour as a medium in its own right and subject all their composition and drawing to the dictates of colour values. This can work very well in the hands of a master, but does require considerable practice before you achieve the success that you aim for. The abstract qualities of colour can be used to great advantage and can bring new heights of emotion to quite traditional compositions. An artist may even subsume the whole picture into one colour (monochrome), which will then set the emotional drive of the piece. On the other hand, a picture may be so delicately coloured that you can almost see it as a tonal drawing. Or perhaps an artist will dramatize the contrast between light and dark, or the colours themselves, and so strongly that the tone or colour carries the whole message of the picture.
When you contemplate your composition, it is a good idea to produce a small sketch first, to see how the areas of colour balance themselves out across the whole picture. You may find that you have introduced a colour that swamps all the others, then you can either reduce its intensity or strengthen the other colours to balance it out. On the other hand, if you like strong contrasts in your work, the effect of a powerful hue can be very dramatic. But whatever your intention, that preliminary sketch shows what effect your colour scheme might have and is always a sensible start.
Even colourists use geometry to compose their pictures, so I will touch on this as well. The idea of colour as form will also be discussed, and you will soon discover that it not only gives emotional impact to the work but also substance to the forms in the picture. Finally, the drama and meaning behind a composition can also be conveyed by the use of colour.
Was this article helpful?