Sunday, October 28, 2012

Learning from Millard Sheets

Mosaic by Millard Sheets in the former Home Savings and Loan Tower in Pomona

I was extremely fortunate to study with Millard Sheets in his final two workshops. I kept copious notes and from them extracted tips and admonitions on color and value. These have been very helpful for me and I'm happy to pass them along.

  • Before you begin, determine where the light starts and stops.
  • Establish the lightest light and darkest dark early.
  • Worry about shadows on objects later - get the basic value down first.
  • Give it hell from the minute you start painting! There is no point covering up pale washes when the object is essentially dark.
  • You never get a color by looking at it alone, only by relationships. Don't look at isolated items, look back and forth 4 times. Which is lightest? Darkest? Warmest? Coolest?
  • Always work from colors in the same family. Compare whites against whites, blues against blues, etc.
  • The greatest colorists in the world are the ones who know the most about muddy color. Mud can be a foil for brilliant color. 
  • Put the purest, brightest color in first. It's too hard to get pure color later.
  • Warm colors always have more weight than cool colors.
  • Cool colors suggest atmosphere.
  • Generally speaking, the color will come in the half tones, not the lightest tones. 
  • Don't be afraid of color, it makes a painting rich.
  • Anytime two colors are repeated in the same area, it becomes the same place. Don't have a lazy brush. 
  • Color, to become a miracle, has to be felt. Take time to see it.