Thursday, February 24, 2011

Seeing in a Grey Day

Doing block studies is the single best exercise I know for sharpening colour awareness.  After doing these in bright sun light, the grey day gets easier.  If you find yourself out there on a grey day are there any tips for seeing the colours?

In the last post I mentioned the use of a shallow picture box.  Basically this means to get close to the subject and reduce the long depth in the painting.  This is what most still life paintings are about.  There is still depth, but not much if any atmospheric perspective or long view perspective lines to a single point on a horizon.  More on this later.

Since you are close to the subject it is easier to see the colours.  To assist you, consider using a colour isolator.  Even if you believe you can see the colours the isolator might surprise you.  Here is an isolator.

Grey View Finder 

This is my viewfinder.  It has a few interesting features.  First, it is value 5 or mid value.  This helps you establish the relative value of a colour (many people have trouble with this).  Second, it has a small hole in the middle.  If you look through the hole you will isolate a colour in your view.  In the short picture box setup, look at the colours in the shadows.  Inevitably there will be more than one.   Even on a flat plane.  Nope, a camera will not show you this.  It demonstrates why there are no formulas in realist or impressionist painting.  You observe and then you mix.  It shows you that there are few flat passages in nature.  Now you are the artist, so you can treat this observed colour and install it according to your concept.

Small Thumbnail

This is a small thumbnail of a bed bug line of a snow painting from todays session at the easel.  This is the transition from light to shade.  Notice the different hues in the section.  These were installed based on observation.

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