I found these two images of Da Vinci’s portrait of a woman (c.1473) and I like to invite you to observe the difference.
Of course the portrait is the same, only reflected. However, the colours are very different as a result of photography (lightning) and/or printing (pigments).
The large version has a terracotta and sepia colour palette. The beautiful warm reddish colour is complemented with a bit of subtle deep purple discolouration above the eye and in the dangling hair. The paper looks damaged with some whitish discolouration and even a bit of very vague green. The black is beautifully deep, especially at the place of the eye and next to the profile to the woman to push her face to the front and her hair to the back.
Now, observe the smaller version. This image looks faded. Still there is some orange-sepia at the top of the head. There is more green and blue in this image. Notice the soft green eyebrow and deep red in the nostrils. The woman’s dangling hair is grey, green, blue as well as red-brown. Her dress looks soft green. There is just enough black left to suggest depth, and enough ‘white’ to suggest light.
Both versions have a truly beautiful colour palette. What does colour do to you? To me the large sepia version feels warmer and fills me with human warmth. Due to the predominately terracotta colours, this drawing feel earthly. The smaller faded version overall makes a more ethereal impression. It makes me think more of the woman, who has lived and died and is fading in time, providing me with a sense of impermanence. For a room that needs human warmth, I would opt for the larger version. For a place for meditation or contemplation, I would choose the faded one.
What about you?