Many of our readers are likely familiar with the work of Ruan Jia. His amazingly sensitive use of color and value has caught the eye of many an artist, and he remains a personal favorite amongst many professionals.

The tasteful use color is one of those things that is really hard to teach. One can discuss color theory, and how to create a believable sense of atmosphere; but it’s a lot harder to teach someone how to use that information in an effective, powerful, and sensitive way. Often times, the successful artist doesn’t really know HOW they do it themselves, and they rely on intuition and experimentation to find their color solutions.

Because of this inability to convey taste, I often find process videos to be incredibly enlightening when it comes to seeing how an artist successfully uses color. Seeing the color palette actually develop over time, and even seeing it’s pitfalls along the way, helps one develop an appreciate for the ‘discovery’ of good color, rather than simply treating color as a problem that needs to be solved. If you treat color as a problem, you’re likely to come up with a solution. But if you treat it as an opportunity, you’re much more likely to come up with something unexpected and evocative.

Ruan Jia often records his Livestreams and posts them on Youtube, allowing people to watch his entire process from start to finish. Please join me in watching this incredible artist do just that, and enjoy the discovery of his colors as he discovers them right along with you, in these videos below.

How to Paint a Girl

Demo Part 1 & 2

And lastly, check out this lecture by Ruan Jia where he discusses his career, process and thought process, filmed at the ‘Trojan Horse Was a Unicorn‘ workshop.