Color is a very, very important part of my art and my color choices are carefully considered. I often use color to indicate a time of day – reds and oranges for the heat of midday; blues and purples for dusk. I also use combinations of colors to suggest a mood – limiting my palette of colors to create a tranquil feel for a painting.
Paintings by Alison Nicholls
Given the way I think carefully about my use of color, you might expect me to be completely averse to artists using seasonal color palettes, like Pantone’s Fashion Color Report, but in fact, I’m not.
Being an artist means different thing to different people, but generally I think most people would agree that art has no formula and that every artist decides on their own path, the path that is right for them. Some artists change continuously, constantly experimenting with new colors, new styles and new media. They take their inspiration wherever they find it. Others (and I admit to being one of them), move more slowly, sticking to a distinct media and hoping to improve in my own niche. But even an artist like me, who seems to carefully control her use of color, is influenced by outside forces more than you might imagine…
The 1st time I realized I had unknowingly been influenced in this way was in Moremi Game Reserve where I spent a couple of hours sketching a herd of impala, standing stationary for minutes in uncomfortable positions, afraid to move an inch in case they saw me. I ended up with a nice little pencil sketch, came back to camp and decided to use a deep red-brown watercolor to complete it. When I’d finished, a friend commented on this being an unusual color choice for me, and I agreed. Only several minutes later did it occur to us that this was the exact color of the huge flowers of the sausage tree above our heads!
Roses photo by Alison Nicholls
This week I had another example. I started a painting using a dusky pink- brown and was considering where to go with the next wash of color. I headed downstairs to make a cup of tea and decided that a vase of roses on the fireplace should really be thrown out. The roses never opened or dropped their petals, they just seemed to have dried, but they were still beautiful, so I decided to keep them in my studio for a while, thinking that the muted colors would make a lovely color scheme for a painting. As I walked into my studio with the vase of flowers I realized my current painting was already the exact shade of pinky brown as the roses!
My point is that you will almost inevitably be influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by everything around you. I may not decide to paint my next painting in Peach Echo or Serenity just because they are part of Pantone’s Spring 2016 Color Report but if these colors start appearing in clothing and all over the internet in all kinds of products, I may unwittingly find them sneaking into my art. But maybe that is because these are fairly natural color choices for me anyway. Should the fall colors include lots of metallic grays and greens, it is unlikely that you’ll be seeing these in my Art Inspired By Africa!