Color Combos I Am Drawn to in Art

An artist I have admired for more than 10 years or so is the Frenchman, Georges Rouault, a man who died in 1959, but was born in 1871 in Paris . . .

Rouault was born in Paris into a poor family. He was born in a Parisian cellar after his family’s home was destroyed in the Paris insurrection of 1871. His mother encouraged his love for the arts, and in 1885 the fourteen-year-old Rouault embarked on an apprenticeship as a glass painter and restorer, which lasted until 1890. This early experience as a glass painter has been suggested as a likely source of the heavy black contouring and glowing colours, likened to leaded glass, which characterize Rouault’s mature painting style. During his apprenticeship, he also attended evening classes at the School of Fine Arts, and in 1891, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts, the official art school of France. There he studied under Gustave Moreau and became his favorite student. Rouault’s earliest works show a symbolism in the use of colour that probably reflects Moreau’s influence, and when Moreau died in 1898, Rouault was nominated as the curator of the Moreau Museum in Paris.

Now that I have names for different color schemes, I wanted to “test out” my powers of actually determining one through analysis. The work I chose to try it on was one by a new favorite artist of mine, Georges Rouault, and his work, Ecce Homo:

Here is my take on it:

What I see in the composition is a basic palette that centers on Orange, extending in the direction of Red (Red-Orange, mostly) and the direction of Yellow: (Yellow-Orange, mostly). So in reality, his is essentially a color scheme of three adjacent hues (Red-Orange, Orange, and Yellow-Orange), also called an Analogous Color Scheme (one quarter, or 90 degrees, of the color wheel’s hues) since there is very little actual Red hue in the painting, and very little Yellow hue. If I am placed against a stone wall and told either get the answer right or prepare to be turned over to the firing squad . . . I’d say basically the three contiguous hues, Orange, Red-Orange and Yellow-Orange, and a fourth added to that: Orange’s complement–Blue.

Of course, I also see (and love) Rouault’s use of Black as a main way of–other than the use of his complementary Blue–announcing that color-defined area is either background or the delineation between one area and the area next to it: outlining.

Here, in short, is what I see as the hues (and tints and tones and shades) being used, plus Black, of course:

Yes, yes, yes: there is a little Green in his work too–very little, but it is there, I grant you!

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