Friday, February 25, 2011

"Licking" and divisionist color

Here, let me show you something I talked about in snowcamp. Above are three notes of roughly equal value, one is yellow, the next red and the last blue ( barely, in this photo, but take my word for it). They are all mixed down with a lot of white. I am going to lay them loosely on top of one another and make a patch of broken, or divisionist color. Like so..........

The resulting patch of color has the three notes placed discreetly and separately. When we look at it, there is opalescence, or vibration. Vibratory color is much more alive then a simple flat note of paint laid like a housepainters brush stroke. I use vibratory color a lot in my painting because it enlivens passages. It is particularly useful in skies and snow, but entire passages and entire paintings can be made of vibratory color. This simple little effect is one of the roots of impressionist technique.

Nature is complex and the vibratory effect confuses the eye slightly and that recalls the complexity of nature as we see it, better than a flat color note would. There are other ways to do this, for instance, different shades of the same hue laid over one another in the same value.

Here I have divided the pile into two sections with my knife. To the right of that line I "licked" the paint until it was all blended together. It goes flat then. It is the color of pewter, dead. In order to work, the notes have to be separate from one another, discrete.

This is one reason that the old time painters cautioned so strongly against "licking". Licking is brushing repeatedly at your paint like a cat might lick it's fur. It muddies your color and wastes your time. Learn to put a note down and pull your brush away. The more times your brush hits a note, the weaker it gets. You cannot worry the paint on your canvas into a picture.

19 comments:

rahina q.h. said...

excellent article... simple, to the point, and makes total sense:)

Karla said...

Thanks for sharing this! Your depth of knowledge is unreal!

Philip Koch said...

Excellent post, once again. I forgive you for posting those politicians' paintings yesterday.

Terry said...

Wow Stape,
This is sooooo cool! I know what I am doing today...can you use any red yellow blue combination or are there certain ones that work well together? Would this work on flesh too? Terry

Judy P. said...

Such a helpful, understandable and clear explanation; the visuals along with your writing really cement it for us!

JonInFrance said...

Good one! Really liked the last painting of yours you showed, by the way

T Arthur Smith said...

great advice and really well said, thanks Stape!

Stapeliad said...

"You cannot worry the paint on your canvas into a picture. "

Oh my gosh this is so quote-worthy. I am going to paste it on my easel.

Diane said...

This is great information. What really helps me are the visuals. I do want to comment though on the discreet which should be discrete, just a picky writer/artist person.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Rahina:
Thanks
.........Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Karla;
The depth of my knowledge is uneven.
............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Philip;
You will unforgive me tonight.
..........Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Terry;
Yes it works on flesh. I used a simple example but lots of colors work.
..............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Judy:
I do want to be useful.
...................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Jon;
Thank you also.
............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

T. Arthur;
Thanks.
..................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Stapeliad:
Thanks. Funny name there.
...............Dtape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Diane;
Sorry, I am bedeviled with typos. I go over the posts and recheck them and there they are. Spell check didn't even flag that one. I will no doubt make further typos, in the real world you have an editor. In a blog everything is sort of home made.
.................Stape

Linda West said...

Now I get it. Blending paint until it turns to mud is, for me, the hardest habit to break. Your posts are inspirational and your advice helpful and right on.