I was checking out artslant.com the other day and I saw an ad by an artist, Paul Russo. I was intrigued so I visited his site. WOW! He is painting 1000 black paintings. They're beautiful, elegant, simple, complex, funny, exciting.....they run the gamut of expressions and THEY'RE ALL BLACK! Now I have proof in (ahem) black and white, that you don't need a lot of color to create fabulous, glorious work that has depth and soul. Of course there is Ad Reinhardt, Yves Klein, Robert Mangold and others, but Paul Russo seems to have brought a juicier element to the game. His work strikes me as more interactive, almost. There is lots of texture, usage of strange elements and it seems to me, a very well rounded sense of humor. "Manly Augustus Buchanan" just cracks me up. I'm not sure why but it seems to me that it's a bearded man, and that strikes me as hilarious. Maybe I've had too much coffee, or not enough. Whether it's supposed to be funny or not, it's certainly intriguing and that for me, is the mark of a good painting. Give me my nickel's worth and I'm happy!
At any rate, for a long time I've been telling my students to pare down their palette. Just one or two colors and a dark and light. I've been doing this for awhile myself. It allows me to work within a tight framework colorwise, and integrates the color in the painting. Could be I'm just lazy...but no! I really believe this technique is worthwhile and really, really hones my sense of color. It helps me see color in a new way too. In relationship to other colors, rather than each color individually. It helps me see the painting as a whole. And that can't be bad.
So thank you, Paul Russo, for giving me the opportunity to revisit this idea of "less is more" - less color is better color it seems. And it's certainly working for Paul.