Thursday, February 12, 2009

More about color vibration

Here's another painting from that Maine trip. It contains some passages that I think I can use to explain color vibration. I guess I need to stop and say that a passage is an area of a painting that is of a piece, that is, the side of the house is one passage and the snow on the roof, another. Perhaps that's obvious, but I don't want to leave anyone behind by using jargon without an explanation. If you are a reader of this blog PLEASE let me know if I have lost you on something and I will return to it and try a better explanation. or in the comments.
Okay, here we go:
Here is the right foreground of the picture. I had to photoshop the picture some so you could see the different notes and it has made the snow a little too blue in the lights, but for our purposes I think it will do. There are some auxillary skills I am picking up to do this blog and heres a place I will need to do some more study. As I go on I will develop better methods of effectively presenting closeups of passages. Bear with me, I can do it in paint, I have a harder time doing it in electrons.
I absolutely love to paint snow, it is so much fun. I think it is my favorite subject. The lights, that is the areas exposed to the sun are painted as I described in the last blog. Painted first in this case with the white and ultramarine, Quinacridone red mixture, this is in the light so there is lots of white in the mix compared to the other two colors. Into that I have thrown a cadmium yellow and cadmium red light mixed with white, again very high key. These two notes are a step apart in value so I can describe the surface of the snow with them. Its a delicate operation getting it light enough to appear to be in the light, yet dark enough that the next note I intend to lay can be light enough to tell against it. I have used two values in the lights to model the snow and I will add a third soon. The next note in the light is the brightest and most highly colored note where the sides of the ruts in the road turn directly towards the raking light. These I painted with a very bright white and a little yellow ocher. Remember the value scale I posted on January 31st? Here's why its important to have 10 values in your scale, I just used three, painting the lights in the snow alone. Every time I teach a workshop, most of the students aren't using enough different values. Much more on that later.
Now look over at the shadows, the same thing is going on. I roughed in the passage with Ultramarine, Quinacridone (or alizirin if that's your cool red) but with less white than I did before in the lights. Into that I threw a flurry of strokes of Prussian blue and white the same value.I also threw some white plus viridian strokes in there too. Remember I don't want an area of flat , dead color like a house painters work, The interplay between the two notes, one warm and one cool gives vibration. On the upright walls of the ruts I placed a hot reflected light containing white and cadmium red light, stepped on with my ultramarine mixture again. I also put in dark accents of the road showing through the snow. That's now six different values, in the snow alone.
There's another thing going on here as well. Its what I will call a color drone. I suppose some of you are familiar with an Appalachian instrument called a dulcimer. It has several strings that you fret to get different notes and one that is tuned to a drone, or a note that always plays though the other notes are varied. That one note always runs in the background, like a field against which the other notes stand. The same is going on in the snow as well, every passage contains that ultramarine and quinacridone, white mixture. Its lighter in the lights and darker in the shadows but it plays in the background of both.
Tomorrow I will pull another passage from this painting and give you another example.


Mary Bullock said...

HI Stape:
Really great posts on painting snow - something I have always wanted someone to explain to me. I am lousy at painting snow but always wanted to learn. Your explanations are excellent. Thank you so much- Mary

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanx Mary
I think winter is the best time to paint outside. There will doubtless be more posts about snow. I wonder how many readers I will lose in the Bahamas?
You Bahamas people stay tuned,though its the same set of problems as painting surf! Handling high key, tinted whites shows up in cloud painting too.