Ouija Board Woman


170615 Ouija Board Woman (2017) oil on canvas 90 x 60cm

Another one made from a small sketch. I’m thinking maybe in future I should choose more carefully when I’m deciding which sketch to paint. The translation from black and white to colour involves depth effects that I’m still only beginning to understand. Still, I learnt a lot from painting this.


170605 Ouija Board Woman Sketch (2017) pencil on paper 14.5 x 9.2cm

I used a limited palette of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Cerulean Blue, and a muted brick-red (pre-mixed from Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange and Burnt Umber). I think limiting the palette helped to unify my colours a little, although my use of them still went haywire. I didn’t use black, and the darkest tone possible from this palette wasn’t very dark. I also didn’t mix the light colours as light as I could have, so the overall contrast isn’t as high as I usually like it.

I tried to use colour in a way that’s sympathetic to the form and perspective. I kept in mind the idea that warm colours come forward, and cool colours retreat, and that saturated colours come forward and muted colours retreat. I didn’t apply these principles expertly, so the picture has strange inconsistent depth effects that don’t serve the image coherently, but I definitely got more familiar with this aspect of colour in the process of making this painting. The push-pull effects of colour are new to me, I didn’t intuitively have a sense of how that was working until I read some colour theory, but now I’m seeing how it works and I’m excited about finding ways to make the colours work with the image instead of working against it.


2 thoughts on “Ouija Board Woman

  1. this painting has lots to like. I’m not surprised that you are excited about some tentative discoveries in your technique.

    Yes, there is inconsistency in the depths – and there is a bit of a disconnect between the colours of the figure and the top part of the background – the greys and black don’t seem to achieve anything – seem to be awaiting “fixing”. But he limited colour palette works almost brilliantly – the lack of contrast is evident somewhat, but there is still success there. The figure is composed and coloured and shaded convincingly for me.


    • Thanks Phil. 🙂 One funny thing though: I didn’t know I’d painted “greys and black” at the top. I thought I was painting muted purple and indigo. That’s what I thought I mixed, and it looked that way to my eyes. What colour I “see” is often determined by what I think I know, which I think comes from growing up surrounded by colour names and categories that don’t fit with my eyesight. For me “violet” is quite close to grey to begin with, so I’m not surprised I muddled the two. Similarly, blue-green is close to grey for me, and yellow-green is close to dark yellow. Conversations like this make me wonder if I ought to go back to black and white.


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