Monochromatic Heads: Playing with Complementary Colors

The faces begin to talk in a different language: the language of a different color.

I’m continuing with my series of monochromatic paintings in watercolor. As I create more of these pieces, they also continue to evolve. I find that as I continue exploring this series in monochromatic colors, I want to pool complementary colors together.

In some instances, I’m subtly including complementary colors. I just want to give a hint of color to what appears to be mostly monochromatic. The important thing for me is always the soul of the piece. And, the soul in the face and what the face tells us about the person in these paintings. What does it tell us about the person that doesn’t exist except for on the paper?

In these most recent paintings, you’ll notice I have a lot of sparkle in them. I’m using washes of Mica watercolor. The Mica watercolor paints can emulsify and bind to watercolor paper or even other surfaces. Very small, transparent mica powdered flakes reflect and refract light to create shimmering metallic effects.

In the piece below, I’m looking at the relationship between the blue and the muted green. I achieved this color by mixing blues and yellows along with pinks to mute it. I find that there is a kind of soft pink that I can add to the greens to get a different kind of muted color.

watercolor painting monochromatic head 2388 Dick Crispo
A monochromatic painting incorporating blues and a muted green. Artwork by Dick Crispo.

What I’m doing is playing with ways of slicing a color into parts and then reassembling the colors. That is the pool of colors I’m creating on my palette. Again, with these latest pieces, I’m playing with complementary colors. 

But I’m also adding texture. I’m using toilet paper and paper towels to help create another dimension to these watercolor paintings. I am even using some scratching tools to create yet another surface texture in these paintings.

In my process, I recognize the water is part of the color. It’s important not to separate the two. I use them both to work together to arrive at a certain color.  More and more water will soften the color. With these paintings, it’s important to understand that while they have a monochromatic feel to them, up close you will see bits of other colors. It’s important to me that I don’t only use the colors straight out of the tube. I like to mix them, let them pool together.

In all these paintings of these faces, with all the mixing and pooling of colors, the faces begin to talk in a different language: the language of a different color.cropped-dick-crispo-favicon_.png

Related Articles