The Impact of Color In My Abstract Expressionistic Art

My View on Color


In my art, I don’t separate the line and the color. I separate the color in the line. 

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It’s a different kind of thing because the line that comes out usually comes out of me first. It’s that initial flow, it’s the one I’m going to stay with. As for the color, it may keep changing. When I’m drawing and working with color, I’m thinking of the harmony and contrast of colors. One of my earliest influences in color was from the book by Michel Eugène Chevreul, “The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colours.”

Chevreul (1786-1889) was a chemist and the director of dyes at the national Gobelins textile factory in Paris. Chevreul identified a fundamental law of the simultaneous contrast of colors which detailed the effects that proximity between two colors has on what the eye sees. You can learn more about Chevreul here

In my opinion, there would be no impressionistic art if Chevreul hadn’t identified the contrast of colors through his experiments. The first major artist to use his theories and was a good friend of his was Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). Delacroix’s use of color was influential in the development of both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting.


Triadic Colors

In my work, I like to use colors to play against each other. I ask myself, what is this color doing to that color? It’s a non-stop process as I paint because all colors affect each other. And that’s what I want people that are starting out to really work on: the triadic colors. The red, yellow and blue. The orange, green and violet and so on.

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The color wheel would not exist without the triad colors. The triad colors make all the things that we do in art today possible. And you see all kinds of color combinations. But the basics are there. These basic colors are what people who are just starting out in painting. They should study this to understand the impact of color can make in art expressionism.


What Is The Impact Of Color?

Understanding how these color systems work, such as the primary colors and triadic colors, is important to study when you’re making abstract art. I create abstract humanist art and because I’m talking about the human, I want to show the human pain, the human drama. I want the colors to reflect that. 

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When I’m doing watercolors, I want them soft, softer and more quiet. But then, all of a sudden, this black line appears around the forms. When I draw in or paint in the black line, it’s to help with the form but also add impact and drama to my work.


I want the color to be more intimate, more of an ethereal feeling. I aim to make the colors in my watercolor art not so bold. The boldness comes when I bring the black line in. The black line in my work gives me a chance to add more impact to the color. It helps create that drama. All of this with the aim of expressing an idea or feeling as it relates to the human form and condition. 


The Gut Feelings Of Abstract Expressionism

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Abstract art represents reality not as it literally appears, but by use of color, shape, and forms or gestures while expressing the emotion of something. The abstract expressionism artist from the forties and fifties were masters of getting to the gut of things. It’s like they would vomit it all out, the whole thing. The abstract expressionism came from deep within. It came from within them; it couldn’t be from somebody else. 

In my art, these gut feelings must come truly from within myself for the work to have that impact. I can’t just make art as decoration. I want my work to say something. I want the gut feelings of the human condition to be there. This is my view on color in my art.

gold face watercolor painting
A watercolor painting using paints.

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