Monday, June 30, 2014

Does Color Equal Light?

Now that the party is over, it’s time to get back to the desert… or at least for a little while

16x12 Oil on linen
 
While hiking in the base of Bryce Canyon, I spotted this nice sturdy pine tree (again).  I felt like it deserved an array of ornaments, with its nearly perfect shape. Then I began noticing the other triangles surrounding it. There was a similar shape in the large rock framing the tree, and less obvious triangle created by the grassy slope. Still narrower triangles were located in the distance. This may sound a bit odd, but as an observer in a new location, you can’t help what you notice…
 
This painting will match the others of my southwestern series, but honestly, it is not a favorite. That may be because it lacks a morning or evening light source and strong contrasting values. The mid-day sun exposure removed the chance of a more dramatic shadow below the tree, and the rocks depict an almost evenly lit pattern. The image then becomes one about complementary colors … between the red /green, blue/ orange placement.

When the painting is altered to black and white, it is evident that there is little contrast here, as well...

 
On the other hand, let's take a look at an earlier painting (and one that I especially like), in its black and white version. If we’re seeing the same thing… this painting has better lighting effects, with and without color.

black & white version of "The Middle Ground" 
 
What do you think?

Prior to starting the single pine tree painting, I thought color harmony would be enough to satisfy my vision, but in the end, it was a failed attempt. 

So now you might ask… why not just fix it? The answer is simple. I’ve given up trying. It is hard to imagine where shadows would realistically fall or what would happen with the gradation of colors.

This is an example of … Color does not equal light.                                                          

I believe the most critical eye for judging your own artwork should begin with yourself.  It doesn’t matter if the finished piece contains many or none of the elements of so-called “good art”, as long as you are happy with the results.

When your paintings are complete, take a long look at them and determine the things you want to repeat. Is it in the colors, the composition, the infusion of light, or brush strokes? Include those same properties in your future pieces and don’t forget to experiment along the way!

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