Thursday, October 29, 2009

Block Study, cool overcast key

I have been painting so much in overcast conditions the last month or so that I feel like I am stale.  It is more and more difficult to make a cool weather key painting interesting.  So back to basics.  Today I began Thursday still life sessions just like a musician practices scales.

In the photo you can see the set up.  I relented and did this one indoors by a window with no interior lights on.  Outside is better.  Winter forces more pace into your painting.

Cool overcast 3:30 PM, Oil on white board, first block in

Here the set up consists of three wooden blocks painted blue, red, and white on a wood surface(Local Colours).  The overcast light source is coming in through the window.  The purpose of the exercise is to study the effect of the prevailing light on the local colours of the masses (train the eye).  The blocks are primary and secondary colours.  Any number can be used.

The process is first to paint the blocks and the surface they sit on quickly to eliminate the white surface.  This is done as a first step in order to eliminate the white canvas as an influence on how the eye sees the colours and the effect of light on them.  This is done by choosing a colour from your pigments that most closely resembles the colour on one of the surfaces of the blocks that is easiest to identify (get the value as close as you can).  Even at this stage you can see that the blue block has variations of blue on all three visible surfaces and that the white block is not white.  When the white of the canvas is pretty much covered up you will see colours that were not visible to you before.  You will see that the colours are probably off and the values may also be off.  In the second round, make corrections to the colours that are now apparent to your vision.  Do this by scanning from one surface and object to the other comparing value (light/dark), temperature (warm/cool), and chroma (bright/dull)(Note that the pigments on the"Practical Colour Wheel" are all bright out of the tube whereas earth tones are not).  The second round will get the effect of the light on the objects closer to reality.  In the next step you will begin to notice variations within the individual colour masses.  Apply them by scanning and comparing.  Finally, tighten up the colours and their variations and adjust edges.  The more you do this the more sensitive your eyes will become.  It won't take you long to realize that simply painting from pictures has grand limitations.

Repeat this exercise in various light conditions.  The you can graduste to more complex rounded objects and portraits and finally to the complexity in the landscape.

The approach may be used in your regular painting process.

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