Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fields of similar value and disimilar color

image courtesy: www. Art

I would like to begin this post by thanking Fred Ross the chairman of the Art Renewal Center for allowing me the use of the images collected and posted on the largest online art museum in the world. I have posted a link to the Center over on the right. They are a great resource and you should go wander through their tremendous archive. The ability to use these images greatly expands my stock of examples to use in this blog. I am grateful to them. There are a lot of people out there trying in their own way to foster great painting and the Art Renewal Center has made a terrific contribution.
Above you see a Monet, I would like to draw your attention in particular to the lower left hand corner, Here's an example of different colors of the same value grouped together. Those flowers and leaves all read as one unit, yet their colors show them to be different elements.


Above is a simply wonderful Willard Metcalf. Stop and look at this thing for a while, this is artistic genius, it looks simple but that simplicity is achieved by an absolute mastery of painting. It is quiet and clear, it stays behind the frame and has enormous reserve. Much great painting is subtle and elegant. In today's world of instant gratification and disposable art that is accessible as hell but only a micron deep, people don't often stop and give the contemplative time to appreciate a work of art that doesn't scream.


Willard is my favorite impressionist painter. I will be returning to Willard again for examples. He is one of my three great heroes (the others are Hibbard and Hendrix) This lovely spring image is most likely from Cornish, New Hampshire where he often painted. I go there sometimes and hunt down his painting sites. More on that later. The painting is a 26x29, that's his usual size. Its just a little off square. Below I present a closeup of the lower right hand quadrant of the painting:

I know, it doesn't look the same up close, does it. But when you back away, your eye fills in the details and makes you think you are seeing the grasses and patches of earth. It is more artful, more effective and more efficient to let the viewer participate in the perception of the painting. There are a lot of close keyed notes here. Yes, some of the notes in this passage are accents a step above or below, but the basic operating method here is our field of similar colors of the same value. Look at how he scatters those violet notes into his greens, notice also the variation in the greens. At the top of the frame you see alternating bands of warm and the cool greens thrown on top of one another.
What I would like to suggest you do in your own painting is ask yourself,"can I describe this thing by varying my color while staying within the same value? We are sneaking up on a concept called


We will talk more about that in the future.

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