Book a Class

The Private Tutor in Your Pocket

color May 29, 2020

One of the best mentors you can connect with to catapult your inner artist to new heights and personal satisfaction is you!  This mentor is disguised and often sleeping, waiting to be beckoned.  This mentor won't knock on your door and attempt to convince or cajole.  This mentor waits patiently for you to take the steps to learn what this master has to reveal to you.

Awakening the Master Within: Exercise One

What's needed?

1. A smart phone or digital camera.

2. Photo editing software of any kind that enables you to crop photographic images.

3. Curiosity

4. Patience to ask yourself questions and acknowledge either your answer or the lack of having an answer

That's it.

For the past several days, asI stood at the sink, I gazed at the lavender iris and rose-colored columbine that danced together in the breeze in the garden outside my kitchen window. I love discovering new color schemes inspired by nature's changing seasons.

Yesterday, I decided to create this exercise for you.  This is something I do often either mentally or physically.  My hope is that i can present this in a way that will make sense to you.  Please feel free to deviate from the guidelines to create your own version of this exercise.


When something in your surroundings grabs your attention more than once because of the colors you notice ... either the combination of colors or a single dominant color that calls out to you ... grab your phone and take about twenty snapshots of whatever it is.  Photograph it up close, far away, from different angles and  in ways you think might be a little ridiculous.  As you're snapping the photos, as yourself what you think caught your attention and see if you can capture that in some way in your photos.  don't worry about composition.  This is an experiment based on color.  It's important to stay focused on exploring one design element at a time even though it's nearly impossible to isolate shape, value, temperature, color and texture from one another.  Do your best.

Later ... when you have a chunk of time, perhaps an hour, transfer your images to your computer or work with them on your phone.  this will be more difficult on your phone because of the small size you'll have to work with.  I suggest using your computer.  

In your editing software begin to create variations of each image, one at a time.  You needn't work with all of them as that might take longer than you have allowed.  the more images you play with, the more you will learn from the inner tutor you are awakening and the more you will nurture that unique artist within you.  Start with one and see where it leads you.

Crop the image into different formats ... horizontal, vertical, square, full image.  Ever since I've upgraded to the iPhone 11 pro I've been shooting in 16:9 format to save time when including stills in my demo videos.  It also gives me more room to play when experimenting with patterns, colors and design.  

Note: When I am "taking photographs for photographic aesthetics", I shoot in full frame, hardly ever cropping my images.  For my painterly experiments I grab all the info I can, not worrying about composition at all.

Back to the experiment.

As you're cropping your image, ask yourself questions such as:

How to I capture the color or color combination that attracted me?  

How can I crop the image to better express that color or color combination?

Have I captured that inspiration of color combination?

Is there a dominant color?

Is it important that there is a dominant color?

Is the color that I thought was dominant really dominant?  or ... have I ignored the color of the background when first attracted to the scene, allowing my brain's eye to filter it out?

If I have filtered out all other colors?  Wouldn't I also filter those out if I were to paint the scene or objects?

How does depth of field (sharpness and blurriness depending on how close or far I am from my subject) effect the impact of the image.  If the background is grabbing too much of my attention, would it be better to blur it a bit in a painting?

If there is a dominant color, is it made up of larger shapes or clusters of smaller shapes that when combined, demand more space in the image than other colors?

What proportions of the colors works best for me to convey that impact of the color scheme I was first struck by?

What are the colors i'm observing? Are they saturated? neutralized? Warm? Cool? 

Is there a specific color scheme?  If so, what is it?

What are the proportions of each color in the color scheme?

What other colors are involved when I change my viewpoint?

How would I duplicate this color scheme with pigments?

Can I create the same impact using only strokes of color without describing the objects of the scene?

Was I attracted to the scene because of color or because of something else?  If so, what?

Have I discovered a different color scheme now? One that I like even better at the moment?

How do the shapes of the color effect me?

If I change the shapes of the colors how would I feel about the image?

What really is it that grabbed my attention?

When searching for answers, did I discover something that has an even stronger impact on me?

Don't worry if you don't have answers to any or all of the questions.  What is important is that you asked the questions.  You've earned the attention of your inner tutor and your inner tutor is smiling.  The answers will come, sometimes in whispers and sometimes in loud shouts.  

Listen ... Listen carefully.


And then ... ask a few more questions.

I'm delighted to introduce you to the best mentor you have at your disposal.  that mentor is always with you and doesn't charge a penny.  The price of the lessons is your undivided attention and your willingness to hear, absorb and to acknowledge both your strengths and your weaknesses.

Which of all the options, or combinations of the options are you excited about exploring as a painting? 

May the joy of the journey of your inner artist nourish your spirit. 

Chris Carter 




Join my mailing list to receive notification of new blog posts and update on the  online courses.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.