On rare occasions I open a book and within a few moments – a cursory glance really – the energy and expertise of the author bounds up to me. Not exactly like a hyperactive puppy, but something akin to that. Betty Edwards’ Color strikes a chord as I’m continuing to explore (and attempting to capture) the colours of my world.
I had felt the book might benefit from including suggestions for palettes for beginner artists. I’ve recently had the experience of buying some new aquarelles – and sorting through the range to get colours that looked like they’d work together took quite some time. Not an unpleasant time, mind you, but more authoritive advice would’ve been gratefully accepted. Marcel told me all I needed was (something like) two reds, four yellows, and four blues. Sounds reasonable, if I was in his league of expertise. I intend exploring the exercises included in Color, using my aquarelles rather than acrylics, and I’ll see where that takes me. And, of course Edwards presents a basic palette for acrylics, including black. It’s kind of (old) fashionable to not include black – after all some Impressionists eschewed black from their palettes, and therefore we should too. Yeah right. Edwards’s palette includes titanium white, ivory black, cadmium yellow pale, cadmium orange, cadmium red medium, alizarin crimson, cobalt violet, ultramarine blue, and permanent green – nine colours in total. She recommends ‘artist’ quality, not ‘student’ quality. Good idea. Start how you mean to go on.
For most people, myself included, art at school was something of a haphazard affair. You either got lucky somehow and taught yourself to deal with paint and subsequently colour, or you ended up with mud. I believe if the methods outlined in the book were applied to a young audience we’d end up with some highly colour literate people – and more of that wouldn’t be a bad thing. I believe that fact that we as a nation continue to churn kids through the education system without basic drawing and colour skills is yet another education tragedy. I guess I’m still clinging dodo-like to the concept that part of the role of compulsory education is to prepare (i.e. enrich, enable, empower) young people for the rest of their lives.