Scott shares one of the most influential learnings of his career. He discusses the idea of a color reserve and describes how he has created such a reserve in several paintings.
But it is in the use and withholding of their reserves that the great Commanders have generally excelled. After all, when once the last reserve has been thrown in, the Commander’s part is played. If that does not win the battle, he has nothing else to give. The event must be left to luck and to the fighting troops. But these last, in the absence of high direction, are apt to get into sad confusion, all mixed together in a nasty mess, without order or plan—and consequently without effect. Mere masses count no more. The largest brush, the brightest colours, cannot even make an impression. The pictorial battlefield becomes a sea of mud mercifully veiled by the fog of war. It is evident there has been a serious defeat. Even though the General plunges in himself and emerges bespattered, as he sometimes does, he will not retrieve the day.
Learn to neutralize color so that when you add more saturated varieties there is a supporting element; the supporting elements being neutrals.
This will give more variety and harmony to your painting.
Make a color chart using your pure paints out of the tube. Anytime you go to look at art, bring this color chart and hold it up to the most saturated reds, blues, etc. in the paintings. What do you notice?
You will begin to understand that colors used in painting are seldom, if ever, pure pigment. The same applies to white and black; they are seldom, if ever, used pure.
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