Thursday, February 23, 2006

Local color

Pam Furumo is another colorist who's not afraid to "push" hues to a higher intensity.

Much as I've thought about it, I still wonder how they "see" those colors. One suggestion that might be helpful is, "Squint for value, OPEN WIDE for color."

And if you're using watercolor, you really need to make it *brighter* than you think, because the color fades a bit as it dries. This is where straight-from-the-tube watercolor paint really helps.

One trick that makes color seem bright, while still keeping a reasonable semblance of reality, is to contrast areas of neutral tans or grays with a small area that sings more loudly.

Juxtaposition of complementary colors is another good technique for jacking up the drama of a passage that you want to emphasize.

Sometimes a partially-mixed combination of related colors can convey a more vibrant effect than a perfectly-mixed hue.

This quality of moody light & color is where plein-air painting really comes into its own. When you are "on-the-spot," you notice depth, contrast, shimmer, reflection and intensity that just isn't there in a photo or even in your imagination.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Realism, Part Two (What's real?)

In contrast to Vermeer (previous post), Charles Camoin was a charter member of the Fauves, who believed in expressive color. This is his view of Le Pont des Arts (1904). Another, contemporary, example of a free-spirited colorist would be Natalie Goldberg. She says that color is like a metaphore, to get your attention and describe the feeling connected to what you're seeing. When she did a painting of a friend's adobe house, she chose an expressive shade of deep blue-violet. "It was as though that blue paint were a sword slashing through illusion, bringing me into direct contact with the house's essence." She paints from life, but uses the colors in her mind's eye.

This process reminds me of the new breed of economists who are looking at the big picture to calculate a more comprehensive "bottom line." They take more factors into consideration. Is this opperation sustainable, is it fair to workers, what are the enviromental impacts? All this is part of the ballance sheet. A larger, more complete, multi-dimensional picture.

Our whole experience on site is part of the "bottom line" of the painting.