What colour is the moon?

Something that no one ever asks me is 'where do I come up with the colours for my work?' I'm going to explain it anyway and illustrate it with an example, my take on the famous #ScotsLanguage saying 'It's a braw, bricht moonlit nicht the nicht'.


Harry Lauder used to follow that with 'an if ye can say that, yer aw richt'. These days, I feel more like if you can type that, yer aw richt. Trying to make 'night' fingers type 'nicht' is a bugger. Anyway. The colours.

I get colour palettes from all sorts of sources. I put them together using an Adobe system, that will select the most dominant colours from an image, using various user-selected themes/parameters. (This is way more fun that is sounds.)

For this example, the two colour palettes are based on images from films, which I didn't realise before I started writing this thread. So much for showing variety or planning.

[A quick step back into process.] I tend to draw my pieces using pretty basic temporary colours and then apply colour palettes to the semi-complete art. It's rare for me to go from start to finish in one colour palette. Different combinations of colours can give very different effects, so I spend a lot of time applying different palettes to get the final work just right.

Back to the example. The first complete version of I made was the brown version. The colours here are from this scene in Wes Anderson's 2012 film Moonrise Kingdom

The colours are warm – note the white clouds above have a buttery cast to them. Although its also surprisingly muddy, to my eye this palette clearly represent the scene.

My Scots sayings pieces are always available in a choice of two colours. The other version of this wasn't that great and I replaced it last year. It now has a red/black feel, which came from Saul Bass' opening titles to the 1954 film Seven Year Itch.

On this extracted colour palette, I lightened the black tone to give it a bit of life. Pure black isn't something I use much on these pieces.

To my surprise, I find it really hard to pick a preference from these two now. The red one really sparks, but there's something warm and inviting in the brown one.

And that's a little insight into how I play with colour. I hope you found it interesting, even though no of you actually asked me about it! 😉

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