Category Archives: Color

The Color Project Paintings

My Color Project Paintings

“Color should be a sensuous experience.” Charles Sovek

Color is an element that speaks directly to our emotions. We can feel the warmth of sunny yellows and oranges, the cool breeziness of blues and violets, the excitement generated by bright colors, the peacefulness of soft, muted, analogous harmonies, and the moodiness of darks and neutralized greys.

However, my interest in color is purely visual! I love seeing what happens when colors are placed next to each other in a painting. The results, while not always predictable, are very often magical.

With the goal of developing a deeper sensitivity to color and fresh new color ideas for my paintings, I have begun an intensive investigation into color and color theory that I affectionately call my “color project.”

In the six paintings featured in today’s post, I chose one subject and explored six different color schemes derived from the three color wheel primaries and the three color wheel secondaries. On the top shelf and moving from left to right, each painting exhibits a dominance of one of the primaries –  red, yellow, and blue. On the second shelf, again moving from left to right, each painting has a dominance of one of the secondaries – orange, green, and violet. In all six paintings, I began with the umbrella, painting it a pre-chosen primary or secondary to establish each painting’s color dominance.

Two major things I’ve learned from my color project explorations are that I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface in terms of all there is to learn about color and various color theories, and that there will be no endpoint in uncovering the secrets of good color. I love that!

All six of these paintings can be seen at the C2C Gallery:

Bye for now……….Donna


10 Things You Should Know About Color

Donna Zagotta, Almost Home

“To control color is to understand it. An enriching, creative experience in which the intellect merges with the intuition can only happen when a solid base of knowledge already exists.”  Patricia Lambert

Over the last five or so years, I’ve focused more and more on color in my work. I’ve done a lot of research and scholarship on color, but when all is said and done, putting together colors in a painting is an extremely complex activity that can’t be boiled down to systems, recipes, formulas, or rules. As David Friend points out in his book, Composition, “Finding colors and color relationships is a challenging habit of search and joyous discovery, one of the deepest satisfactions in the life of an artist.”

However, I’ve come to realize that there are certain “facts of life” concerning color that artists must be aware of. Here are ten of those “facts”:

  1. Everyone perceives color differently.
  2. A color’s identity can only be determined by comparing it with another color.
  3. It’s easier to reduce a color’s intensity than it is to brighten up a dull color.
  4. Whenever we work with color we are also working with color’s four properties of hue, value, intensity, and temperature – whether we’re of it or not.
  5. The color wheel represents the sequence of spectrum colors that are found in the rainbow.
  6. The closer hues are to each other on the color wheel, the closer their relationship. The farther apart hues are to each other on the color wheel, the stronger they contrast with each other.
  7. Color wheels are important studio tools for artists because they organize information for how to mix colors, for understanding how colors relate to each other, and for creating color schemes.
  8. The Munsell color wheel is important to the artist because it contains true visual complements – complementary pairings that are based on actual afterimage effects. However, the Munsell color wheel is not meant to be use as a guide for mixing colors.
  9. To paint an accurate version of a color wheel’s spectral hues requires the artist to have the right colors on his palette.
  10. The less factual an image becomes, the more options increase for personalized and creative color.

Happy Painting!


The Color Project

I’m excited to announce that I have an article in the current (April, 2014) issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine! In the article, I documented my Color Project, the project I’ve been working on for a few years now. I created the project with the goal of taking my passion for color to the next level and working more effectively with color in my paintings. I started the project with three intentions: to enrich and enlarge my color vocabulary, to develop a deeper sensitivity to color, and to find fresh new color combinations and color palettes for my paintings.  I also talk about the research I did on various color wheel theories and systems, the four properties of color, and I painted one subject in six different color schemes. I hope you’ll pick up a copy – I think you’ll like it!   

Happy Painting!