I felt like a deer in the headlights every time I walked into my art studio. The walls had been painted a glaring primer white by our home's previous owners (the effect compounded by the white berber carpet they had installed), and I lived with it for two years. And I cursed it for two years. Cold white is tough to live with, especially if you are in the business of color, and each stroke of paint I put on my canvas contrasted way too much with my pristine surroundings.
Last weekend I decided to change all that. I canvassed artist friends by email and facebook for suggested color choices, and I got a wide range:
Red - I'm thinking this was from a person who has successfully used this color as a background for displaying art, and who did not have to consider how much hot color can bounce off a red wall, affecting color choices for an artist's canvas.
Blue - See above, except the reflecting color would be very cold.
Sage Green - This was a very popular suggestion, and I have two artist friends whose studios are beautifully toned this color. However, since I seem to use a lot of red in my paintings, I thought using a complementary color might overemphasize that color.
Gray - That could have worked, maybe. Again, my bright colors certainly would have been set off against that color.However, I wanted something a bit richer.
Ochre - This was a possibility, if it were not too bright or too warm.
I googled a few artists' forums discussing this topic and had a "Eureka!" moment. One artist (I tried to find her name again to give her credit but was unsuccessful) said she chose brown. At first that did not seem very appealing, but she explained that she chose a brown that was not too light, not too dark, not too warm, but not too cool...in other words, like the Baby Bear's bed in Red Ridinghood...just right. She went on to say that this brown was a paper bag color. I quickly pulled out my roll of brown wrapping paper that I always mean to put on the back of my paintings to make them look clean and professional, held it up to my studio wall, put a small, framed painting up against it, and it was good.
Off to Lowe's with my wrapping paper swatch, I easily found a paint color that was a pretty close match and a nice brown besides. It was called "Sauteed Mushrooms", and I think that says it all. It just sounds warm and cozy and pleasant to be around, exactly the effect I desired. The lighting for the photos above make the color look pretty warm, but it is actually a kind of taupy-brown, neither warm nor cold. My "weekend project" was completed in eight days, and I am very happy.