Betty Edwards: Another Color Exercise

When colors are placed next to each other they produce different effects.  Red and greed make each other pop, for instance.  In her book on Color Betty Edwards points out that, “Traditional Asian artists make lovely use of simultaneous contrast in landscape painting.  By surrounding an unpainted circular area in the sky (representing the sun or moon) with a gray tone, the unpainted area seems to glow with an inner light that is whiter than the actual color of the unpainted paper.” (Betty Edwards, Color, p. 13)

Here’s an exercise that can be done in the classroom to illustrate this using only a black ink pen, white paper, watercolor paint and graphite (you could use powder as I did or use the side of a pencil to shade)

First draw an ameba design with a small circle in the center.  Next trace the ameba on the inside until it meets the circle and on the outside until it meets the edge of the paper (use artist tape if a border is desired).

Betty Edwards inspired Exercise


When all of the paper is full of lines you can add some color with watercolor if you like.  Finally, when it is dry cover the entire picture EXCEPT FOR THE CIRCLE with graphite.  The time that this takes will depend on how large of a paper you use and whether or not you include the watercolor step.  This is a good project to do while listening to music.  The end result will be that the tiny little moon truly pops out from the surrounding darkness.  Enjoy!


Ink, Watercolor and Graphite

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