Here are my versions of some paintings by master artists who knew the value of colour and how to use it to their advantage. Different ideas demand different colour values and you will see several approaches here.

This is a conventionally composed eighteenth-century portrait by Thomas Gainsborough, of himself, his wife and daughter. It may well have been a sample of his work, designed to be shown to prospective clients, demonstrating his expertise in making portraits of people of different sexes and ages - not to mention the dog - and setting them in an attractive landscape. It also shows his remarkable ability to interpret fabrics of all kinds, and the one thing that jumps out of the picture is the extraordinary brilliance of the artist's waistcoat and his wife's beautiful blue dress. He sets off the red of the waistcoat by surrounding it with dark blue and sombre black. His white stockings also contrast with the black breeches. His wife, in comparison, is all lightness and brightness in her sky- blue dress with white silk and lace trimmings. We can imagine his wealthy clients thinking that Gainsborough must be able to make them appear even more splendid.

The Allegory of Love: Unfaithfulness (1570), a picture by Paolo Veronese of three figures engaged in a kind of dance shows how, with the restrained and yet playful use of colour, the sting can be taken out of the most painful love story. This is a portrait of unfaithfulness, but disguised in such a way that at first you are amazed by the brilliance of the draughtsmanship then lulled by the gentle, charming colour scheme. Only gradually do you begin to wonder what this trio is actually doing. Then you notice that the younger man is receiving a love letter from the unfaithful lover or wife, while she reassures the other man with a firm grasp. It is a very adroit use of both design and colour.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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