Tag Archives: bold

The Use of Color in Art: To Be Bold, or Not to Be?


16 x 16, oil

That is not the question. Let experience be the guide, and your instinct. It’s not an either/or question.

In my youth, only bold and strong color was interesting to me. My home was a Crayola crayon explosion. “Wow,” people would say, much to my surprise. You mean a hot pink bathroom, red kitchen and orange living room aren’t the norm? It never occurred to me I was being bold; it was just what was appealing to me.

When it came to painting the same rules applied: the more color, the more “true” the art felt to me.


9 x 12, oil

Then sometime more recently, as my forties settled in, and some more life had happened, my palette changed. My studio turned from orange all over to deep charcoals and soft grays. My entire house got repainted, in fact. “Bold” color segued into more soothing, soft colors. I found the mostly colorful art my husband and I collected, both before we met and together, popped against the more limited color palette. I found myself enjoying it more. And my eyes felt more at peace.


14 x 14, oil

At the same time, my art found grounding, greyed-down color to anchor the bold color, or the palette became black and white with splashes of color. Of course, I still adore color, and colorful art. But restraint has also become seductive.


9 x 12, oil

Recently, the question was posed: “Is your change of palette a reflection of your mood?” My answer: maybe. But maybe more so a reflection of time and experience. Then again, my next decade, for reasons unknown to me, might find a return to the bold and brash. I doubt it, though: I think the older we all get, the more alluring the gift of restraint is.

What do you think? As always, I appreciate your feedback. Leave a comment or join the ongoing discussion on Facebook and Instagram. See you out there!

Five Ways to Make Your Next Painting Stronger



What happens when you take a break from routine to go back to school, if even for a short time? Learning and growing, then turning around and teaching it — it’s a metaphor for life, and certainly for art.

I spent the last two weeks — joyfully and gleefully and sometimes frustratingly — learning. Robert Burridge, Sterling Edwards and, most recently, Don Andrews, have been some of my mentors and teachers. (Google them — you’re bound to be thrilled and delighted by their incredible talent.) There have been many more teachers and fellow artists who I’ve learned from through the years, and through all of these experiences and encounters, I have found many universal truths.

These things really make a difference in my own work, and they keep coming up. I hope by sharing them, they can serve as reminders to you, too:

1. Play, Play, Play: Just pull out a piece of paper and see what paint does. Art is play when we let it be. Experiment and detach from outcome. This is your time to delight yourself, go ahead and make a mess, or discover something new. It doesn’t matter because it’s about the process.


2. Be Bold: To paraphrase the famous quote, they say “well-behaved women never made history,” and the same is true of art. Don’t be afraid to stand out; it gives your viewer something yummy to experience, holding their gaze and supplying intrigue vs. ho-hum.


3. Start Your Painting Loose: My mentor Bob Burridge used to say that behind every great painting is a really great abstract painting. The beginning of your painting is not the time to get into detail — it’s your playtime. There will be plenty of time for detail down the road. If you get too caught up in detail, too soon you become caught up in protecting the area and sacrifice the unity of the painting.


4. Rule of Opposites: Think contrasts: Light needs dark. If you want to make something look lighter, put something dark next to it. If you want to make something look darker, put something light next to it. Soft edges need to be balanced with hard edges. Vary your line quality. Warm colors need cool colors; it keeps the eye moving around the composition and keeps the viewer entertained.


5. Break up with Fear: This is probably the most important lesson of all.  Fear is the biggest killer of creativity. To paraphrase the author Elizabeth Gilbert: Tell it to go sit in the backseat; it’s not driving the bus. The minute you let it into the driver seat, your art becomes careful and calculated and that edge, that thing that makes you you, is stifled into trying to be like everybody else. So stay in the backseat, Fear: We are not listening to you today. Today, we will make our art, bravely and courageously.


If you make art, these things are not new to you, but they are the things we need to constantly remind ourselves. So go, dare, play, create, and make whatever it is that floats your boat. In the age of technology, art is something that still needs a human, and each creation is different and unique — that’s the beauty.

As always, I love hearing from you in the comments. Is this information helpful? Do you want to learn more about the process? Your feedback is the most important part of the conversation. Thanks for reading, and cheers!