It’s been a while since my last book review and Color Choices by Stephen Quiller is not one to be overlooked – highly rated on Amazon that I found during one of my research journeys has become a great resource on color.
Mr. Quiller, an artist and professor, gives to us his research on color theory in a format that provides a real nice foundation to understanding how color is the narrative descriptor in paintings leaving it up to the artist to use color notes as a guide to viewers. There are six chapters loaded with photographs of his paintings, charts, and schematics to illustrate the concepts. The first four are totally devoted to color and packed with valuable information:
- The Color Wheel
- Monochromatic and Complementary Color Schemes
- Analogous and Split-Complementary Color Schemes
- Triadic Color Schemes
The paintings used as examples are watercolor and gouache, but should that mean we set aside his discussion because oils, acrylics and pastels aren’t used? Not at all, color theory in its purest form is applied across all these mediums – it’s up to the artist to figure out how to use their medium in building color notes. His theories are well described.
Here are three reasons why I’m recommending this book as a great read:
- The Quiller Wheel: Mr. Quiller took the traditional color wheel and blew it out so that many gradations of the primary and secondary colors pigmented names are shown - he puts the gradations inside the color wheel so that you can see their relationships to all other colors. It’s probably the most go-to tool I have when analyzing colors and deciding a color scheme for paintings. While I still use the traditional color wheel, I love the Quiller wheel, which by the way comes as a pullout if you buy the book – not a better find in my opinion, the book is worth every cent just because of the Quiller Wheel.
- Chapter 2 – Monochromatic and Complementary Color Schemes: this is so well done, it helps to see how delicious complementary colors can make a monochromatic scene come alive. I’m currently rereading this chapter, now that I’m painting landscapes again, Mr. Quiller has helped me see more clearly how powerful a limited palette can be for describing a scene. This is a concept that I want to explore more in my paintings, I reach for too many colors in my landscapes and I want to get comfortable limiting the number. It might be more difficult with oil pastels, but I’ll experiment and post on my blog.
- Split-Complementary Colors: Mr. Quiller’s discussion of accent color really resonated with me and was exactly what I was looking for. He gives a great explanation using split complementary and analogous colors together to create a visual mood. His examples helped me tremendously in understanding concepts, especially when using neutrals and semi-neutral color notes with the split-complementary color scheme.
In closing, if you are looking for a resource on color theory and how to use colors more effectively in your paintings Color Choices is worth looking into. It’s been a great source of information for me and I can’t emphasize just how beneficial The Quiller Wheel has been in choosing color schemes for my paintings.