Sunday, June 6, 2010

More about color temperature

Here are my friends Stefan Pastuhov and John Caggiano. I drove up and painted in Kennebunk, Maine with these guys today. From 4:00 to 6:00 I went to an opening at the gallery at Chase Hill. I have a couple of pictures in the show. Then I drove north to Portland and heard Savoy Brown play at a small club there. Then I drove home, Now its 2:00 in the morning and I am writing. Long day!

Here is the scene we were painting. Just about paradise. I love painting bold ocean front. Later in the day we started to get some surf.

I wanted to write a little more about the color of your lights and shadows. One of the commentors asked me if it was OK to paint the light containing warms and cools and the shadows the same way. There must be a time when it is OK but I can't think of one. You can have both warms and cools in the light, but they all must be either warmer or cooler than the shadows. It is the contrast of color temperature that makes this thing work.

I also wanted to mention another little trick I use sometimes. If I am painting in the lights with a yellow, like ocher and want to paint them cool, if I add a blue to cool the note , I get green, which I don't want. If I add black to it, I reduce its chroma without making it nearly as green. Since ocher is a warm color, if I reduce its chroma (amount of saturation or color strength) the ocher note is less warm. That works as a cool note if my shadow is sufficiently warm. Remember it is the contrast with the temperature of the shadow that determines whether the light is cool or warm. This is comparative within the painting. Often I feed burnt sienna into my shadows along with cobalt violet if I want them warm.

If I want my shadows cool I usually paint them with a base mixture of ultramarine and quinacridone. That makes a good general shadow note. Into that I throw the color that I observe in nature. Since I am painting this shadow cool,and that's how nature most often looks I want my lights to be warm. Either ocher or my cadmiums give a nice warm note for the lights. I of course try to keep them up in value by adding white. I want them all a higher value than the shadows. Here is a post that relates to that.

Controlling your color temperature from your lights to your shadows will give you more vivacity and life in your color. If you study great paintings from art history you will see this used a lot.
Most of the great landscapists were masters of color temperature.


Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Glad you found sun in Kennebunk, Stape. We had drenching rain about four hours east up the coast (or DOWNeast, as we say.) Nice vista and I bet you got a good painting.

Lucy said...

I hope you'll post the painting you did of that gorgeous spot

Gregory Becker said...

I am going to have to dedicate some serious study into temperature shifts.
I can make push toward shadows with their complements except for yellow. How to make a yellow in the light and a yellow in the shadow is difficult.
If I have a light yellow ochre and a dark yellow ochre. I can see light and shadow in them. How to mix a good shadow for yellows is difficult. If the green shows up I begin adding red to reduce the green. Is that your approach?

Nita Leger Casey said...

Stape ,we were in Kennebunkport about 3 PM and was raining like the devil ! Just coming back from Pemaquid and painted with Rene Lammers and the PPOM artists .

Sharon Weaver said...

Looks like a great spot. Hope you produced a good painting. You have again given me concepts to consider as I paint my shadows and lights. I ordered that violet color and can't wait to try it in my shadows.

Stapleton Kearns said...

we missed the rain. I got a so-so painting.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't think so, unless I use it to make a studio painting. It is average.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Feed em some violet. Cobalt violence!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hi Nita:
I painted with Renee this last month too. She is tearin them up out there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I hope you like that expensive cobalt violet, if you don't, mail it to me.

colleen said...

Hi Stape, I like your blog so much I put it on my home page in google the only one there.

I have a seascape question, I know the warm light cool shadow general assessment, but I think I have a time when it is not quite as valid. IE late light in the dense moist and spray laden Northern California coast. It seems to me the mist/spray carries that warm light everywhere, and so even shadows are warm tho cooler warm than the lights. Over all painting at that time at the coast I seem to see that warm tone, sometimes gold, sometimes orange, pink etc depending on where the sun is, just permeates the whole place

Would you care to comment?