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LarrySeiler
08-18-2004, 01:49 PM
As an art instructor, we have our curriculums that teach the many varied options of color schemes that artists paint with, however...do most artists actually work with a scheme knowingly and intentionally? Or, do most artists tend to paint with an optical color scheme, which is to imitate the color the eye actually sees under the existing lighting conditions?

Themes are often used as a design devise to create an intended harmony, or evoke a mood or emotion.

Color schemes in typical curriculum are as follows-

Complement, Double-Complement, Split-Complement, Analogous, Analogous with Complement, Monochromatic, Triad, Relative (or related).

I suspect the vast majority attempt to mix and paint what they actually see than work with a theme. Curious to see if my suspicions are accurate.

Larry

Gilberte
08-18-2004, 02:37 PM
I voted for the second one.
I guess I give more attention to tonal values, light and shadows, contrasts ...

metalhead
08-18-2004, 02:55 PM
Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. When I do, I don't get too uptight about a name for the color scheme, though I suppose (if I remember from 6th grade art class correctly) that I tend to use "analogous" the most, when I do use any color scheme. E.g. my attempt in this past weekend's WDE., the reference image I used is here:
http://wetcanvas.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=155663


My painting of it has completely different colors:
http://wetcanvas.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=155838

AFM159
08-18-2004, 05:39 PM
Interesting.

I have a book on color harmony using various color themes. I love it, some beautifull painting can be done that way.

However, as an Architectural Illustrator, I am offten given building colors to match. These are many times not very harmonious, and are difficult to build a theme around.

I have also found in my limited experience that most themes have a limited range that makes it hard to accurately convey all the colors that are required for a representational painting.

Also I have noticed when I try and work in a theme I get more questions about the work. ie:

Client: "Why is **** that color?"

Me: "Because it is more harmonious with the rest of the painting?"

Client: "But........blah, blah, blah"

So to answer your question. Sorta both.

I typicallly use a split complementary pallet of colors. ie: warm and cool of red, yellow, and blue, plus a few convenience colors like raw sienna, burnt sienna and the like.

When I use a convenience color like say raw sienna for instance, I like to keep that as my warm yelllow for that artwork and leave the brighter warm yellows in the drawer.

I try to get my work as harmonious as possible. When I paint a "blue" sky I then use the same "blue" mixed with its complement to arrive at the color for the parking lot that I almost always have to show. And on and on, things like that.

If I can work an even tighter theme out of it, and I know the client will let me, I will. And I am slowly learning how to do it and satisfy the picky client.

Diyart
08-19-2004, 09:54 AM
I try to do both, but in many cases I think that I drift
into the direction of analogous type of color combinations.

In my stills I start very strategically and try to keep within the
system. Plein air on site anything can happen :)

So it is very difficult for me to vote
Martin

Marc Sabatella
08-19-2004, 02:11 PM
As an art instructor, we have our curriculums that teach the many varied options of color schemes that artists paint with, however...do most artists actually work with a scheme knowingly and intentionally? Or, do most artists tend to paint with an optical color scheme, which is to imitate the color the eye actually sees under the existing lighting conditions?


Realistically, I'd say what I am conscious of is something that is neither, but perhaps has elements of both.

I am very aware of color harmony in my painting. I want the colors to look pleasing to me on the canvas. Of course, I want them to look lifelike as well, but I'm willing to sacrifice accuracy for harmony, and indeed, I rather like the excitement that can come from having an area painted some color that differs from what is actually there but just *works* in the painting. So in that sense, there is definitely a color scheme going on that is directing the painting.

However, in the sense of identifying it as "split complement" or any of those standard schemes, no, I'm *never* aware of it in those terms. I might come to settle, during the course of a painting, on a scheme involving light oranges, deep red violets, and mid-tone blue-greens (for instance), but I'd come up with that because it intuitively looked good to me, not because I consciously thought about this being a split complement or anything like that.

BTW, this comes from experience in pastel, where I'd start with three or four sticks of color, block the whole painting in, and only gradually add other colors as I worked until I felt I had enough sticks to complete the painting. Rarely more than a dozen total. The colors I added would be based on not being to get the effect I needed with what I had already, but that would be partly a matter of "not looking enough like the object I am trying to paint" and partly a matter of "not working well with the rest of painting". Of course, given this approach, "not working well" here generally means being *too* harmonious. if I've only got a handful of colors going, I'm not going to be able to create something that seems out of place. It's more a matter of wanting more contrast in a given area that would make me add a color.

In oil, I tend to do the same with mixtures of paint. I of course mix little variations here and there, but if I've been using a light orange in my light areas thus far, and I've got another light area to paint, I start by assuming I'll be able to use a similar light orange here, even if I have to mix in another color as well (usually wet-in-wet).

franz
08-21-2004, 09:46 PM
A very interesting question!

I definitely do not work with logical or scientific colour theories, nor do I necessarily produce the colour that is in front of me—even though I consider my work representational. I’m somewhere in between, I guess. What I usually do is to decide at the start of a painting an appropriate palette to express what I have in mind. For instance, if I think I’m going to need a wide value range I would pick ultramarine rather than cobalt blue to make sure I can get some really strong darks. If I’m looking for a quiet mood I would pick cadmium yellow rather than cadmium lemon for my yellow. I think that by deliberately removing certain areas of the spectrum from our palette (a true limited palette) we create a harmony unique to ourselves and to the specific painting we are working on.

So if I ignore formal colour theories, how do I know if I have the right colour? What did Louis Armstrong say—“if you don’t know, I can’t tell you”. I truly don’t want to be confrontational, but I think that a logical approach to colour schemes often produces some really ugly paintings. As an artist, I think I have to “trust the force” for my colour harmonies rather than my logic.

DanaT
08-23-2004, 07:37 AM
Interesting question, Larry!

I generally start with one or two colors that I see but then concentrate on building color harmonies around those main colors. Generally I've found that reproducing the same color relationships on the palette as are in nature produces the illusion of realistic color even though several individual colors may be off.

In plein air, I'll usually chose the subject matter with respect to a color theme.

Doug Nykoe
08-23-2004, 02:04 PM
I suspect the vast majority attempt to mix and paint what they actually see than work with a theme. Curious to see if my suspicions are accurate.


The question or probe seems a muddled one Larry… its both and a whole lot more. How could it not be?

What you see,,, what do you see? What triggers (there are many to choose from) are being applied which in turn are evoking simplicity in theme and colour choices. It’s all one in the same to me.

LarrySeiler
08-23-2004, 03:22 PM
Well...I've been silently lurking and reading with interest. Not wanting to provoke debate or risking changing of opinion.

Reasons being is I suspected various responses...but did anticipate that while we can compartmentalize the color themes neatly, for the purposes of teaching students...in actual practice, it is not really quite so easy.

Its sorta like style. Many younger artists look at artists they admire and come to determine they need to develop a style. In fact, a style like so-and-so.

In seeking an answer to that question about style about 25 years or so ago now of then popularly acclaimed wildlife artist Lee LeBlanc, I was told to paint 500 paintings and I would have a style.

Such a simple and yet accurately profound response.

There are those that believe the painterliness of Impressionism, as a style... was the intent of those brushstrokes or aim, and then choose to attempt to paint more painterly instudio.

What they fail to understand often is that we outdoor painterly painters might be infact trying to paint as photorealistically as is possible...but given the fickle nature of light, and nature's stubborn resolve not to be harnessed or coaxed...we are forced to paint within a window of opportunity before the scene changes before us.

The painterly style is a by product given little thought except toward the end in finishing...where concerns about rhythm and color notation for the purpose of cohesive unity may come to mind. One has no luxury of such time, for everything is haste before one loses the moment.

For a person to use a photo as a reference in the luxury of no pressing time constraint and then consciously paint thinking to simulate a hurried manner for the purpose of what they think is a marketable style is to lose the whole of it.

I think many artists develop a sense of what works for themselves...and it is in hindsight or the analysis of others later that discover particular traits, similarities, inclinations and patterns in an artist's work.

I am a bit like Dana here...moved by light and a present color influence that overrides the scene.

I am also limited (at the present) with my self-imposed limited palette...but trying to be as unlimited with it as possible to discover its full potential.

As I bring a work to a close...I consider altering or additions to color notes to pull things together.

For example...I did this extremely red barn this past weekend, totally blown away in the setting of all the greenery how red indeed it was.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Aug-2004/532-redbarn_cleghorn72.jpg

As I was nearing its finish (2 hours, 9"x 12" on linen)...it was apparent to me that a few red color notes were necessary (thinking now about what makes a painting work as a painting)...to be distributed in a number of lesser important places to harmonize with the barn.

Then...there is the game to play where you do broken color, letting the viewer mix the color in their eye...hinting at a present color but also adding to suggestive detail.

The inclination of year's past was to tame such notes of color that were accidental to yield and come under submission, but now I do such on purpose. In some sense...an adherence to a color theme mode of operating can hold one back from a break out experience. Just MHO....

an example of broken color on a quick one I did this weekend (90 minutes 11"x 14")...first the close ups and then the painting-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Aug-2004/532-ruraltree_closeup1.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Aug-2004/532-ruraltree_closeup2.jpg

the painting...a tree of character on a slope overlooking a rural valley-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Aug-2004/532-ruraltree72.jpg

I guess my thinking is...such knowledge of the various color theories is useful for discussion, enriches understanding of art history...might say something about an artist's work, but I think has much less with actual painting experiences than many might think. Like style...it becomes signature of your work, but more in hindsight and retrospect.

Some artists no doubt work with a theme specifically...and they can predict the outcome of the work before they perhaps even start. Not saying good or bad one way or the other, but for those that might feel less the master of their craft for not having an awareness of possessing a theme to their work...relax. Artists often are the last to see a style in their own work, while everyone else swears they can tell a (in my case...) Seiler...when they see one.

That always strikes me as funny...because while I'm not trying to paint like anyone else...I'm also not consciously trying to paint like me either. I'm just seeking to paint well.

Larry

Richard Saylor
08-24-2004, 03:08 PM
There are those that believe the painterliness of Impressionism, as a style... was the intent of those brushstrokes or aim, and then choose to attempt to paint more painterly instudio.

What they fail to understand often is that we outdoor painterly painters might be infact trying to paint as photorealistically as is possible...but given the fickle nature of light, and nature's stubborn resolve not to be harnessed or coaxed...we are forced to paint within a window of opportunity before the scene changes before us.

The painterly style is a by product given little thought except toward the end in finishing...where concerns about rhythm and color notation for the purpose of cohesive unity may come to mind. One has no luxury of such time, for everything is haste before one loses the moment.

For a person to use a photo as a reference in the luxury of no pressing time constraint and then consciously paint thinking to simulate a hurried manner for the purpose of what they think is a marketable style is to lose the whole of it.
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
I agree 100%. I'm glad someone finally had the intestinal fortitude to state the truth.

LarrySeiler
08-24-2004, 06:26 PM
hahaha....liked that eh Richard?

There are people that think I've lost my abilities because my work currently does not have that finished photorealistic look my wildlife art of 20 years has. Then there are those that express enjoying the change and the look.

They are judging style in that case, but not talent and abilities. Perhaps judging choices for my opting out of the studio to pursue the outdoors, but again that says nothing about talent and abilities. Unfortunately...those making such judgments don't realize its only difference in style, not fair to attribute some loss of talent.

Again...I'm just painting and trying to do my very best. Given 200 hours to work my very best would look one way. Nature dictating I shall have 2 hours leads the work to look another way. Same me...same potential for talent.

Those critical of the unfinished hurried painterly work and sensing an aire of superiority for their labored 200 hour works ought to get off their high horse and come paint with me a few occasions and then talk. The look is more a reflection of what you enjoy doing. Give me our best hyper realist here at WC, and tag along with me to paint under the conditions I do...and in two hours time. Now...in fairness...the first number of works will be rough, because its a whole other ballgame and not for the feint of heart. Nature will measure you.

However...in short order that talented individual will recognize him/herself getting on top of the moment and game and YET...the look will not represent what that artist could do given 200 hours instudio. It may however represent a very talented artist working within a two hour window of opportunity.

It is more about surrending to the moment, giving yourself permission to try.

Yet...there will be no time (in an honest effort to capture the moment) to think about style. It will be what it will be if integrity is in tact.

This is a reason too where it comes to color that I surrender consideration of a theme. I allow myself grace that I might intuitively evolve into a theme that others can see. My place outdoors given so short a time, is to engage nature.

I have painted since 1980 professionally...so I am extending my intuition some benefit of the doubt its capability to make sound and good decisions under fire of the moment's fragility. Later...I can look at my work...analyze what I like or don't like, contemplate on that and let it sink in real good. I then believe in time...those evaluations too work itself to help me evolve and make better decisions in the heat of the moment.

Now...a fun thing perhaps to try in attempting to sway myself toward a theme, would be to premix color on my palette prior to arriving at a scene with the self-imposed restrictions that these will be what I will limit myself to. Once in the zone...that groove of the moment, my consideration of it will more or less fall to nil...and I will be only aware of nature and my need to respond to it.

Instudio...I have all kinds of time to sit back, muse before the next stroke and think. Out in the field...I have no such luxury. There...experience and acquired knowledge truly does pay off.

peace

Larry

LarrySeiler
08-24-2004, 06:38 PM
Now...a fun thing perhaps to try in attempting to sway myself toward a theme, would be to premix color on my palette prior to arriving at a scene with the self-imposed restrictions that these will be what I will limit myself to. Once in the zone...that groove of the moment, my consideration of it will more or less fall to nil...and I will be only aware of nature and my need to respond to it.
Larry

hhmm...okay...now I'm answering myself. Scary...

the problem I see here though is that having a former agenda is a thought toward an expected anticipated outcome, responding then not to the integrity of a moment's encounter with nature, (for the plein air painting typically reveals the effect the encounter with nature had...we see and experience thru that person's eyes and think to connect with their heart's moment), but instead imagining how a mood projected might play upon a viewer's anticipated response.

Art certainly has its place to receive such agendized works, and viewers of course benefit what that has to offer. Its not the agenda I see for myself. Mine is a pursuit of nature...what revelations were responsible for stirring my soul. Thus...my color by necessity tends to be more optical.

Painting outdoors however...nature itself often sets the color theme. A low sun in the horizon casting a slight hint of greenish presence in the sky leading toward warm pinks by the basis of seeking a good painting, you find areas of the ground where such colors repeat. This in essence then creates a color theme, but it is one that naturally occurs within nature. As the artist, I might give greater voice to the subtlety to make the work more intriguing.

(okay...Larry, now don't answer this one eh!) ...huh?


Larry

LarrySeiler
08-24-2004, 06:41 PM
*oh GAAAaaaasshhh....I thought I'd not answer again. I feel like Jay London of last comic standing. "Don't worry, this will all be over in a few minutes. I think I'll move over here....!" :)

I just wanted to affirm that the thread is about color theory, not plein air painting...so I am not insulting everyone here...I am admitting that my slant here on this befits that which might concern one seeking to paint outdoors from life.

peace... (now...larry...I'm giving me a warning!!!) *sigh....

Larry

AFM159
08-25-2004, 11:30 AM
I see what you are getting at and in large part I do agree. I do have some questions though and maybe you can clarify these things for me.

So, if you'll indulge me.............

What they fail to understand often is that we outdoor painterly painters might be infact trying to paint as photorealistically as is possible...but given the fickle nature of light, and nature's stubborn resolve not to be harnessed or coaxed...we are forced to paint within a window of opportunity before the scene changes before us.

I am following along fine for the most part but it seems to me you have divided the art world into two camps - one: instudio photorealists who spend 200 hrs or more on single paintings and two: outdoor painterly painters who are forced by nature to only spend a few hours on any one painting.


I think there is a much broader spectrum of working style that is individual to each painter. I'm sure you know this, but your post only addresses these to polar opposites. You also seem to imply that working with a theme is somehow "playing upon a viewers anticipated response" and missing the truth of the moment or that the artist painting in a "painterly style" instudio is somehow disengenous.

Please don't think I am trying to argue, I'm just looking for clarification so that I can fully understand what you are after.

Ok so on to my questions..........

To my way of thinking - when you as an artist begins to apply paint to the support you are making decisions about what goes and what stays, what lighting is important, what colors must stay and which are unpleasant. These decisions to me are the same wether working instudio or in the field.

You might see something in the field that you wouldn't instudio and that might lead you in a different direction.

So take the first painting of the red barn that you showed us. (I know you are working with a limited palette right now but that feeds into what I am after here.) When you looked at that scene did you not make choices on the spot as to what colors were most appropriate to what you wanted to say? Were the greens in real life the same greens you chose to paint? I suspect not, one: you had a limited palette and two: at that distance I suspect the large tree behind the barn was really about a value of say 7 or 8 almost a sillouette and that you chose to give it a different emphasis based on what you wanted to see in your painting. I suppose it might have been a willow or some other tree with light leaves and that might have led you to paint it in such a manner, but its shape to me suggests something more like an oak.

Was the color of the pavement on the road really a warm grey? Or was it much cooler and did you not choose to warm it up a bit to better harmonize with the rest of the painting?

I'm sure you painted the background hillside with a thought towards atmospheric perspective. In other words, you cooled the colors and lightened the value to better convey distance in the painting. Were I standing there in real life I would suspect that hillside to be a value of at least 8, but that wouldn't work well in the painting.

I'm not saying either is wrong, just that you chose to paint those elements in a certain way to add color and harmony to the painting. Whether you did so consciously or sub-consciously I don't know. Maybe in your area of the country the tree was that light and that color and the greens in the foreground are that yellow, again I don't know.



In some sense...an adherence to a color theme mode of operating can hold one back from a break out experience.

To me this begs the question - are you not adhereing to a certain mode of operating with your limited palette that could in effect hold you back from a break out experience? Can it not also liberate? A very important painting for me was one in which I chose to limit myself to a near monochromatic scheme. I learned bucketloads. It was also the first painting I did after throwing away my payne's grey, and began to learn about mixing complements.

Green is quite pervasive in my area of the country. Infact can be quite overwhelming at times. Take a look at the attached photo. It is a view of the hillside behind my studio. Would you or any artist choose to paint that using only the greens you see? Or would you rather choose to vary the colors to better achieve a pleasant painting? One that has the appropriate amount of push pull and atmosphere?

What I am trying to get at is that we all have decisions to make for each and every painting and brushstroke and that we make those decisions based on our individual understanding of color and painting. It would seem to me then that anyone can take the time to use or not use a given color theme as they go about crafting a painting. Wether in the field or instudio. And that doing so is not neccessarily missing the point or the truth of the moment, just that painters different view of the scene. Or have I totally missed the point myself?

The paintings you have shared are no doubt beautifull well crafted honest statements. I wonder though if what you are doing in terms of harmony within the painting is sub-conscious in that you have been painting so long that now you do these things with out thinking about them.

LarrySeiler
08-25-2004, 03:30 PM
I am following along fine for the most part but it seems to me you have divided the art world into two camps - one: instudio photorealists who spend 200 hrs or more on single paintings and two: outdoor painterly painters who are forced by nature to only spend a few hours on any one painting.

For one...its confirmations in posts such as this that make me feel I need to lengthen my posts to the point of rants out of fear perhaps of not being fully understood. Not your fault bringing it up, and I'm glad you did. To explain, I am an art teacher/instructor. Well acquainted with history of art, the need for broad pluralistic presentation to students of all that is out there from African and many continent art, to ethnic variations in our own country, to the many movements that certainly need no legitimization from me to be judged competent and important.

I am speaking of my experience only...with the understanding there are some that follow my postings..there are lurkers that might be in similar situations having similar things of mind warring within. With that said, I know there are many camps.


I think there is a much broader spectrum of working style that is individual to each painter. I'm sure you know this, but your post only addresses these to polar opposites.

I am also aware that my opinion and insights can at the same time refrain from despair knowing others are free and likely to interject what is important to themselves as artists....things that my ramblings will not address. It is these polar opposites that have affected me. I recognize my work in and of itself may be of very little interest to others...and that is no problem for me, so apologize that it sounds presumptious to present it as so.

What is needed in this subject is for many artists to enter in and pro-offer those considerations that are important to them and their working manner. Then we will have balance, and much to consider.

I could, and again I apologize...feel more obligated as an art teacher to less represent my growth as an artist, feeling instead some responsibility to broaden, but then I would less be talking as an artist. So...these things I have shared I admit are tinged with much greater self-centeredness than perhaps I should have taken liberty to share. Apologies again...


You also seem to imply that working with a theme is somehow "playing upon a viewers anticipated response" and missing the truth of the moment or that the artist painting in a "painterly style" instudio is somehow disengenous.

If I, as an artist...were to attempt at this point in time to do that, (paint with an intended theme approach) that would be how it indeed would come across from me. Instead of revealing the impact that nature had upon me..I would be strategizing how my work ought to have impact upon the viewer. Nothing wrong with that. In fact I hope the viewer does like my work and it does touch them, but its prioritizing. It must first appeal to me. The viewer is secondary. There are reasons the viewer will like the work, and I address that often in other discussions.

I am simply celebrating while there on location...and hope that in what I see and find worthy of celebration, others might as well. If that speaks to what is true for others. If others as artists find a personality of truth in such interpretation, then it might be an abridgement of their own nature to ignore that truth.

IF I set up next to an artist painting a thematic approach, I certainly wouldn't reproach the individual, but celebrate their time with me. I would find their efforts no doubt intriguing and would encourage them. I might pick their brain to better understand it later over a sandwich and drink. If he were to ask me why I favor optical viewing...I would let him know why the theme approach is not me.

In fact...if you want to see something cool...check out a plein air that was executed by WC member Michael Pacitti..who approaches his subjects with varying color themes in mind.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=211297

He used a triad palette for this work...and I admire it, told him so. An excellent work. That he uses a theme intrigues me...doesn't put me off. We can certainly attempt to understand why someone opts for a thing without it meaning we need to thereafter embrace it for ourselves. Sometimes I think vehement opposition of an approach by any artist by others is a self-preservation device or mechanism to keep the threat of potential change for themselves at distant.



Please don't think I am trying to argue, I'm just looking for clarification so that I can fully understand what you are after.

Nope...not at all. Out of respect for you and others, I hope folks will speak up rather than harbor unspoken things and keep 'em pent up inside. Its good to clarify...and we benefit the most by trying to make plain for others. It helps us better analyze our own positions and re-think them.


So take the first painting of the red barn that you showed us. (I know you are working with a limited palette right now but that feeds into what I am after here.)

Okay...and,


When you looked at that scene did you not make choices on the spot as to what colors were most appropriate to what you wanted to say?

Yes...I do...and not unlike choices one makes to subscribe to a color theme. A theme...in my thinking creates a mood. A mood of nature that stands contrary to the actual on the spot experience. My intent is to have an honest reaction to the present mood. Again...that is me.

I do make choices for the sake of what will make a better painting. A painting works to be a good painting for reasons, so yes...I will alter things, change things...yet the spirit of that scene and mood will be known and recognized. IN fact...in the painting you are referring to with the red barn, I took liberty (as long as we are talking about creative choices) to create what is not there for the sake of better composition. The road leading up to the right dips over a hill and no tree mass behind extending higher up and leading across to the left side exists. I did see such a mass to my extreme left in what would have made another nice painting...so took liberty to add that to make a better painting. Still, anyone seeing the painting would recognize the barn, the place...the mood and more importantly the compulsion of what moved me to paint.

I'm not saying one is more right or wrong...and admit it is a creative choice. I am expressing why a theme would not work for me at this point in time. It would be something like describing the fragrance of a beautiful woman that found sensual appeal to instead a fragrance that you know would be more recognizable and appealing to others. It might indeed prove a popular description, but not honest to that which compelled the need to respond in the first place. In describing her to a crowd...you might catch wind they prefer brunettes so you hold the truth from them that in reality she was a blonde.

No problem....you've touched THEIR aesthetic preference and perhaps still provide a service that is appreciated.

I find the works of those that paint a mood quite effectively very powerful and moving. I enjoy them. There is something to be learned from them. Its just me. When I go out and paint, I can't bring myself to suggest a foreign light and mood to the moment. It is the presence of the mood of nature I suppose at that moment that grabbed me by the jugular and said "PAINT ME!!!"

To others, perhaps it is the composition that grabs them most, thus granting more license to alter and YET maintain their integrity. Admittedly, a color theme mood can greatly enhance and improve a composition...IF that is the compulsion of the artist. For those artists, it would be an abridgement of their integrity to do otherwise. I recognize that and appreciate it. I can only speak of what moves me...yet, I can teach what moves others and why.

You got my artist side today...rather than my teacher side. hahaha... :p

Were the greens in real life the same greens you chose to paint?

A limited palette is of course limiting. I try as best as possible to imitate what I see, and naturally the limited palette creates a working harmony as it demands the participation of nearly each primary in every mix. So, yes...that is most emphatically a type of color theme, something I think I alluded to earlier. Yet....my thinking is to imitate what I see best I can.

With 18 colors on a palette...one still will find not every color in nature perfectly imitateable. One tries their best...that is...if the optical way of viewing and painting is the way one works.

At...of course, the idea is not to copy everything. Nature requires the artist to assign an order that leads to good composition. To be honest then, and fuel your concerns...all paintings in seeking to have integrity to work AS paintings are at the same time dishonest. Its a juggling act, to balance integrity to the scene, and integrity to what makes a good painting.

Still...there are fundamental reasons for why particular works of artists hold intrigue for one person, and not another. To one patron...feeling the nature of nature and the artist that can emit that is the compulsion. To another, the interest in feeling the nature of the artist, is the compulsion. Some color themes tend to more imitate nature...and thus yet draw the viewer to consider the nature of nature. Other color themes are more decorative or appeal to human delight that are quite unnatural to nature, and draw the viewer to touch something in the artist. Again...that is up to everyone to decide what appeals to themselves.


I suspect not, one: you had a limited palette and two: at that distance I suspect the large tree behind the barn was really about a value of say 7 or 8 almost a sillouette and that you chose to give it a different emphasis based on what you wanted to see in your painting. I suppose it might have been a willow or some other tree with light leaves and that might have led you to paint it in such a manner, but its shape to me suggests something more like an oak.

My habit is to squint my eyes...note the stronger values, and note the weaker values. I do try to work with WHAT IS THERE, and do assign emphasis of what is there to contribute to what will make a good painting. When I am moved by values...they have assigned to them an existing mood put upon them by an existing light.

For that reason...I spent nearly 1-1/2 hours driving around looking for something that moved me before I set up to paint that isolated tree plein air I posted recently. There was something in the existing light, color...values, structure that grabbed my attention.

IF I were empowered to paint from a color theme approach, no such effort to have wasted gas would have been necessary. Yes, there would be a bit more freedom because all I would need do is find components of a possible good composition and create my own light source for the day, my own mood. Instead...I drove waiting until nature slammed on my brakes and dragged me out of the truck! Admittedly it was the present mood that had that effect upon me...altering that mood with a theme for me would have been redundant to the purposes I need to paint.

I do not find simple decisions of increasing a value or lessening it imposing a change to the present mood.

What this really is like...a mood represented with color theme, or optical is like choosing a song to be sung by a choral group. Its all about orchestrating. There is no wrong by choosing one song or another, but whatever song is chosen, all must participate in THAT song. If 40 voices are all singing out at the top of their lungs and worse singing their own song different from everone else you will hear nothing. Only chaos. The director decides what song...and this might be like choosing optical or theme.

What matters is to what purpose is the song being sung?

If you choose the Wizard of Oz song to sing at a wedding, "Ding dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead..." well...no matter how well sung, its going to be the ruin of the wedding.

So...to paint a theme for me (at this point in time regarding the underlying reasons I am compelled to paint)...is to not create the painting in sync with the compulsion or need.

When I am making choices about value...arrangements of parts...it is like the director yet working to bring all voices together and yet for one song. For me, the mood at this point is the song. One form responds to the mood at hand, another creates an ideal mood. One is not better than the other, but it would lack integrity for the director to not keep the parts in line for what the purpose of the song is. I don't know if that explains it...but I'm trying.


Was the color of the pavement on the road really a warm grey? Or was it much cooler and did you not choose to warm it up a bit to better harmonize with the rest of the painting?

It was very much like I painted it..and to what my skill levels in short order allowed me to imitate.

I could have made those choices for the sake of a better painting, but what some artists need to understand about painting out of doors is that nature provides the harmonies inherent in the moment. That road possessed a lighting and color in harmony with the position of the sun in the sky, the amount of haze in the atmosphere and so forth. It is only in trying to create another mood other than what exists that a theme must be incorporated to assure harmonies other than what are there naturally.

This is not to say some tweaking may not be in order. At this point...I am in love with what nature does, and nature has so many varying moods so as to keep me entertained for a long time to come I'm sure. Someday, I might be more amused and entertained about how I might rather see nature's light.


I'm sure you painted the background hillside with a thought towards atmospheric perspective. In other words, you cooled the colors and lightened the value to better convey distance in the painting. Were I standing there in real life I would suspect that hillside to be a value of at least 8, but that wouldn't work well in the painting.

I certainly could make such adjustments...but again, as the director it would be for the purpose to sing the same song....and yet...while I can teach what all the options are available to the artist, and encourage their use, I myself find it often enough to take nature's word on it.

If a distant hill appears as it does value wise and I am astute enough to see it, the option is there to tweak and emphasize....and yet...if I've been a good student in observation with values going front to back...I may not need to overstate. Squinting the eyes...even a mass of somewhat lesser value will go back in depth if the detail you see while looking at it directly and open eyes is de-emphasized for other reasons in principle concerning perspective.

Its not about copying everything of course, or just take a snapshot with your camera and leave. There are one or two essential elements that compelled to paint, and you work to discover it and then work to keep other voices wanting to be heard in check. There are always a half-dozen other paintings that could be done on the came location to give other things voice.

Thus...and you might find this interesting...one might look back in the distance and see detail and insist it is there. I might look at the barn and neaby structures as the subject and judge the distant masses peripherally and likewise insiste the detail is NOT there. What makes peripheral vision less seeing than looking directly?

In hoping a mass is lighter...one often finds looking peripherally that indeed it is as you hoped. Of course whether or not you choose to do it intentionally is fine...just saying you'd be surprised how often what I paint, I am seeing.

The novice paints everything...or tries, the mature artist discriminates...so yes, there is tweaking and decisions going on. Again though...I have one song with an intended purpose in mind, and I just don't see (at this point in time) altering the mood that actually exists with another is a song that won't fit my purpose. Neither is ultimately right or wrong...but wrong for me. That defines who I am at this point in time as an artist, but does not judge others. It just explains it, for whatever that is worth.



I'm not saying either is wrong, just that you chose to paint those elements in a certain way to add color and harmony to the painting. Whether you did so consciously or sub-consciously I don't know. Maybe in your area of the country the tree was that light and that color and the greens in the foreground are that yellow, again I don't know.

Well you are right...choices are involved...I see color themes an exaggerated choice for me that would not keep the voices present in line to express what it is I am finding exciting about nature. Paintings do offer the viewer a glimpse into what excites an artist...and of course, who is to say what ought to excite an artist and what not?

My work shows one personality or side of nature, and thankfully we have artists that represent or depict others. Again...its only how I work, and might benefit only those struggling with the same issues. Why my work works might not work for others, and it will confirm for them at the same time why they want to avoid my approach. So...to air it is hopefully good. I hope now...that some will take space here to provide the service to those reading as to how and why they do what they do.


To me this begs the question - are you not adhereing to a certain mode of operating with your limited palette that could in effect hold you back from a break out experience? Can it not also liberate?

We come in our creative endeavors to a time of critical mass where suffocation and circumstances make it ideal to break out. If you studied my wildlife art on my website....you'd see that to walk away from concerns to maintain and keep my reputation going roughly seven-eight years ago amounted to a major break out experience for me. Some never experience a break out. I may yet experience another...but, there is enough yet for me now to yet experience and learn it might not happen for a long long time. There is simply too much joy for me in celebrating nature, my Creator and so forth. Liberating in submitting to nature as teacher..each time learning something a bit different.

I do not yet feel so on top of it as yet to qualify a need for liberation from it. Clyde Aspevig has painted so many plein airs...and translated so many smaller studies into quite large instudio works that he states he no longer really needs to paint outdoors. His instudio work looks as spontaneous and convincing as if he had done them on location, and he makes many of them up out of his head now. So in tune with nature....such an observer of nature such requires. Perhaps Aspevig is a genuis and master, and perhaps I never will find myself worthy to lick the toes of his shoes. To be able to do that would amount to a break out experience for me.

For that possibility...I have to be a better and better student of nature, but manipulating outside the present theme provided...well, its just not the song needed for me. Not now...or yet.


A very important painting for me was one in which I chose to limit myself to a near monochromatic scheme. I learned bucketloads. It was also the first painting I did after throwing away my payne's grey, and began to learn about mixing complements.

Sure...I have my students do such exercises all the time. I teach color themes to my students...as I suggest with my intial post. I have my curriculum and have been told I do a fair job of it. Yes, much to learn.


Green is quite pervasive in my area of the country. Infact can be quite overwhelming at times. Take a look at the attached photo. It is a view of the hillside behind my studio. Would you or any artist choose to paint that using only the greens you see? Or would you rather choose to vary the colors to better achieve a pleasant painting? One that has the appropriate amount of push pull and atmosphere?

Truth is...the more you paint, the more you learn to see. I see beginning painters in the landscape forum post paintings that are basically one or two greens. I see the influence of color in the sky among the grasses, the influence of bounced/reflected light. Shadows of bent grasses, highlights, variation to same grasses 40 yards away versus 100 yards away.

In time...you see much much more. I am absolutely confident I could set up in your hillside, find the song and purpose...paint, showing every variation I can find and yet be evaluated to have captured the moment, the truth...the present mood. I often teach the painting of green by avoiding as much green as is possible, forcing the eyes to see more, suggest more. Adjacent color has a lot of sway to cause variation in what is perceived.

I'd be able to do only so much with a limited palette...though trying my darndest to be as accurate as possible. Could do even more with a greater palette (though it would yet be an approximation)...yet trying to do my best to be as accurate as possible.

Funny though....that I have simulated more variation and some might think I have more pigments on my palette than I do, learning what can be done with less.



What I am trying to get at is that we all have decisions to make for each and every painting and brushstroke and that we make those decisions based on our individual understanding of color and painting. It would seem to me then that anyone can take the time to use or not use a given color theme as they go about crafting a painting. Wether in the field or instudio. And that doing so is not neccessarily missing the point or the truth of the moment, just that painters different view of the scene. Or have I totally missed the point myself?

I agree... in principle. Choice and variation is what makes our calling legitimate and provides yet room for one more visual statement. Thank goodness for differences between all of us. For me though...the mood is like a melody. Its a particular song...but so prevalent to me that seeking to suggest another mood entirely (for me) would not be holding integrity to that which compelled me to paint. It would be choosing the wrong song for perhaps a better time. I enjoy seeing what other artists do with that.


The paintings you have shared are no doubt beautifull well crafted honest statements. I wonder though if what you are doing in terms of harmony within the painting is sub-conscious in that you have been painting so long that now you do these things with out thinking about them.

I often attribute and offer up thanksgiving for having all these dadblasted years behind me. I wouldn't want to give that up or go thru it again. In fact, I probably would no longer have the patience due to conclusions I've come to. I also argue that such put in the past allows me privilege to slip into an intuitive mode whereby I afford myself trust. To find a zone or groove knowing that what has proven to work so many times will continue to do so.

Talk about a break out moment...I assigned myself a limited palette for that reason. I had become too comfortable with my split primary palette...and thought it would be fun to limit myself and see what I could yet accomplish. I found a renewed sensitivity to values...and that color harmony somewhat took care of itself.

Little by little...I will add my former split primary pigments, but I anticipate at this time I will hold them in reserve to be used more as accents or as slight influence. The limited palette has taught me much about the strength and power of reserve.

Hey....enjoyed our chat Dave...no doubt I've put others into a comatose state with my answers. Take care....

Larry

AFM159
08-25-2004, 05:10 PM
For one...its confirmations in posts such as this that make me feel I need to lengthen my posts to the point of rants out of fear perhaps of not being fully understood. Not your fault bringing it up, and I'm glad you did. To explain, I am an art teacher/instructor. Well acquainted with history of art, the need for broad pluralistic presentation to students of all that is out there from African and many continent art, to ethnic variations in our own country, to the many movements that certainly need no legitimization from me to be judged competent and important.

I am speaking of my experience only...with the understanding there are some that follow my postings..there are lurkers that might be in similar situations having similar things of mind warring within. With that said, I know there are many camps.

I am also aware that my opinion and insights can at the same time refrain from despair knowing others are free and likely to interject what is important to themselves as artists....things that my ramblings will not address. It is these polar opposites that have affected me. I recognize my work in and of itself may be of very little interest to others...and that is no problem for me, so apologize that it sounds presumptious to present it as so.

What is needed in this subject is for many artists to enter in and pro-offer those considerations that are important to them and their working manner. Then we will have balance, and much to consider.

I could, and again I apologize...feel more obligated as an art teacher to less represent my growth as an artist, feeling instead some responsibility to broaden, but then I would less be talking as an artist. So...these things I have shared I admit are tinged with much greater self-centeredness than perhaps I should have taken liberty to share. Apologies again...

No need to apologize to me, I suspected as much (as I have read many of your posts) and almost pulled all that out after i wrote it, but decided in the end to leave it and hear your response, sorry if I forced you to explain more than was needed.

Thank you very much for your lenghthy reply, it gives me much to think over.

That's what I love about this site - direct contact with other artists! I have a very hard time finding this type of discussion - IRL.

I would love to see more folks participate in this discussion. the more the merrier! 'cmon folks, step up!

For my part, I struggle with these and other issues regularly and it helps tremendously to hear/read and discuss what others have to offer.

As an Architectural Illustrator I must paint instudio out of necessity, rarely does the building exist other than on a set of blueprints, so I try to find ways to aproximate what I see in nature in the studio also within the time constraints of very tight deadlines.

I have found that if I paint a certain way, striving for a warm mood, a certain sense of light, I get much more positive responses from clients. Themes don't normally fit into that way of working. Occassionaly one will, but it is rare. I too squint, at everything, wether my work or the landsape outside.

I do intend to take up plein aire work, to expand my range and understanding of natures light. If I could just find the time! Perhaps I will make it more of a priority now. ;)

For now, I will mull over your post, and see if others join in............

Bioartist
09-03-2004, 07:54 AM
I voted yes - but because I want to go back and "start again". For me, I was getting sooooooooooo bogged down with painting the colours that I saw, that I ended up hating the painting I was doing because it wasn't "right". I wasn't enjoying the reason that I chose to paint or the feelings that I felt when I painted it - instead I was so focused on the colour that I ended up lossing the painting.
So for now - I am deliberately painting with a limited palette, based on different colour schemes - but I am willing and trying to explore EVERY aspect of those combinations - and to be perfectly honest - NOW I am loving my art! - dumb huh! :p
Anyway, that's my 2c worth. :D
Stacey

gnu
09-05-2004, 02:57 AM
I mostly work with a select colour scheme, mostly entirely my own, no actual theory colour palette..my last sunflower painting(acrylic) I deliberately chose a red and green and brown to add colour/shading to the yellow petals.( i couldn't actually see these colours in the flower) plus white to lighten. I do the same for my still lifes as a rule wether CP or acrylic.
My favourite yellow is Med Cad yellow, burnt umber my fav brown and cad red, ultramarine blue my other ones of choice, unless I want to switch. I use magenta a lot too to mix. And flesh colour is cool in lots of subjects.rocks sand, wood..
I actually use black!! but mixed with other pigments.
For realistic CP work I use the colours I see..generally they are limitless anyway:D
I am freer with painting..I work instudio, but most paintings take between 8 and 16 hours unless very large..
I love to take photos specifically framed for my painting, but like also to use WC refs.
I don't actually have the desire to work plein air anymore..I enjoy working the way I do.

bigflea
09-13-2004, 10:35 AM
The question of color scheme vs. optical color observation in painting is an important one I think, for any painter who is trying to attain a more true to life color quality in their work. We are influenced in our development by alot of work that is painted more or less from a thematic or schematic point of view, and it becomes difficult to separate the ideal of a harmonic color scheme from actual harmonic color observations in nature. A finished painting, presented in a magazine or framed up in a gallery, can idealize what in painting is a real struggle to understand, even for an experienced and knowledgeable painter. To me, much of the work in galleries and magazines that is presented to us as plein aire work or work from nature, lacks the convincing color qualities that characterize such work. I know from experience how much persistence is needed to complete a painting, and also how easy it is to begin compromising one's color solutions in order to complete the image in a reasonable time span. I think alot of painters, such as Clyde Aspevig, who claim to be able to paint from memory in the studio, are kidding themselves, and perhaps fooling alot of less experienced observers, about the truth of the color characteristics of their work. People, in their drive for success, make these compromises with color harmonies, and they are not obvious to most buyers, but become conventions that are not true to the color light keys in nature.

Anyway, I voted for the optical color choice, but I do not feel the two choice are mutually exclusive. I think we can begin with a scheme of color in mind, perhaps something we have seen in another painter's work or in nature, and we try to explore it in our color development. That exploration may indeed take us away from the theme we thought to have developed, hopefully to something more harmonically true. I think it is unrealistic to expect that all of our purely optical harmonic efforts will be a success and at times we have to bring a painting to a less satisfying conclusion and start again. What seems important to me is that we go out with a fresh view as often as possible, even when working, as I do, on a large painting over a period of several weeks. It is helpful to me to remember that with each effort I am learning something new, since it is new , although it may be familiar.

There is a difference between value keys, as some painters think of them, and color keys. To develop a color harmonic key, observation is needed, in order to avoid the generalized colors that tend to be a part of the schematic point of view.
ken

Marc Sabatella
09-13-2004, 12:48 PM
The question of color scheme vs. optical color observation in painting is an important one I think, for any painter who is trying to attain a more true to life color quality in their work. We are influenced in our development by alot of work that is painted more or less from a thematic or schematic point of view, and it becomes difficult to separate the ideal of a harmonic color scheme from actual harmonic color observations in nature.


These are good observations, but I wouldn't conclude from this that painting with a color scheme in mind is inherently not as good as painting optically. Clearly, painting what you see - once you've learned to see well - is going to do the best job of capturing what you actually see. But sometimes, that isn't our goal as artists. It might be to create a specific mood that might be an extension of what is actually there. We might then be looking for ways to exaggerate certain qualities in the scene itself to enhance the mood we are trying to create. And using a color scheme that restricts the range of colros we use more so than what we are actually seeing could in some of these cases be a way to achieve that.

Mind you, I'm never able to discipline myself to do this, or even try that hard, except to the extent that I *do* make deliberate choices while painting to sacrifice accuracy fo color for color harmony. But often when I see a painting in a gallery, museum, or book in which the artist is clearly imposing a color scheme on the scene, I think it works very well, and I say to myself, "some day I should try that..."



A finished painting, presented in a magazine or framed up in a gallery, can idealize what in painting is a real struggle to understand, even for an experienced and knowledgeable painter. To me, much of the work in galleries and magazines that is presented to us as plein aire work or work from nature, lacks the convincing color qualities that characterize such work. I know from experience how much persistence is needed to complete a painting, and also how easy it is to begin compromising one's color solutions in order to complete the image in a reasonable time span. I think alot of painters, such as Clyde Aspevig, who claim to be able to paint from memory in the studio, are kidding themselves, and perhaps fooling alot of less experienced observers, about the truth of the color characteristics of their work. People, in their drive for success, make these compromises with color harmonies, and they are not obvious to most buyers, but become conventions that are not true to the color light keys in nature.

Anyway, I voted for the optical color choice, but I do not feel the two choice are mutually exclusive. I think we can begin with a scheme of color in mind, perhaps something we have seen in another painter's work or in nature, and we try to explore it in our color development. That exploration may indeed take us away from the theme we thought to have developed, hopefully to something more harmonically true. I think it is unrealistic to expect that all of our purely optical harmonic efforts will be a success and at times we have to bring a painting to a less satisfying conclusion and start again. What seems important to me is that we go out with a fresh view as often as possible, even when working, as I do, on a large painting over a period of several weeks. It is helpful to me to remember that with each effort I am learning something new, since it is new , although it may be familiar.

There is a difference between value keys, as some painters think of them, and color keys. To develop a color harmonic key, observation is needed, in order to avoid the generalized colors that tend to be a part of the schematic point of view.
ken[/QUOTE]

Einion
09-13-2004, 04:14 PM
I think alot of painters, such as Clyde Aspevig, who claim to be able to paint from memory in the studio, are kidding themselves, and perhaps fooling alot of less experienced observers, about the truth of the color characteristics of their work.
While I didn't know his work previously just having a look at it on the web his colour seems very good to me.

It's a big mistake to think that one can't work in the studio and produce colour-accurate painting. Good colour vision is a must of course but colour notes, skilled observation and trained perception can all be utilised to do this type of thing successfully. One should never forget that the bulk of painting historically was done that way and there are many written accounts (observed by fellow artists) of the skill with which some notable painters could reproduce colour even under such adverse lighting conditions as candlelight or lamplight, showing just how much the mind can be used to produce naturalistic colour.

I've seen a half-dozen or so talented painters myself today, and there must be many others, whose in-studio work is, just in terms of the colour, indistinguishable from their plein air work.

Einion

LarrySeiler
09-13-2004, 06:32 PM
One should never forget that the bulk of painting historically was done that way ...

I've seen a half-dozen or so talented painters myself today, and there must be many others, whose in-studio work is, just in terms of the colour, indistinguishable from their plein air work.

Einion


Clyde Aspevig is one that comes to mind...though having built his observational painting skills from hundreds upon hundreds of plein airs, can create landscapes just from memory and imagination and look as though painted from life. It was painting from life that brought him to that place however, and not a foundation of simply painting from photos.

A photo ref now of course might be looked at by Aspevig just for a compositional idea...but the color work and such appears real, because the "real" is in him...

Secondly...and this might sound crass but is not meant to be...the historical works are very important for me. One, to see how painting developed. Two, to see given their circumstances...available materials and so forth, and what light afforded them that which they were able to accomplish.

Personally...I think if they were alive today...with all that is available to them today, they would opt not to paint in their style or form.

I enjoy looking at the very old landscapes for example...Barbizon period and so forth, and while masterful and aesthetically eloquent...they certainly look like no actual place in real life I've experienced. Enjoying them as I do, this argues of course for the place art has in our lives validating design, style, and so forth.

As for "natural" color and light however...these paintings appear often dirty, colors dull..and so forth. Yet, they work as paintings because of principles of repetition, harmonies, cohesive unity and so forth. If they sing of life, it is because something in them connects with our human passion for life and special memories. However...I'll take the light and color of Aspevig any day to be more accurate and full of natural light than those early masters.

Going back to your point of color being indistinguishable from plein air, it needs to be understood however that such artists realize the importance of plein air work to get the proper sense of light and color. In this way comes the knowledge to convert/translate what might otherwise turn out lifeless instudio.

Scott Christensen is a marvelous landscape painter of our time. I purchased this past summer his dvd on painting large instudio landscapes from plein airs.

His large landscapes are filled with natural light, color, life and so forth...using a limited palette at that. His conversions and translations are driven by observances outdoor thru plein air and accumulated understanding.

Larry

LarrySeiler
09-13-2004, 06:42 PM
btw...for argument sake, I don't believe I have to be right in the sense that everyone is constrained to look at the world thru and with their own eyes.

If a Barbizon painting appears full of light and color to your eyes, then I must accept that perhaps it does.

All I'm saying is...most works painted from life on location is very apparent and obvious to my eyes...and that I find it increasingly difficult to assess those works as high or interesting.

Its sorta like sci fi's.

My younger son does not like sci fi's because they are for the most part so far removed from the realm of possibilities that there is not enough believability and probability in them to be considered possible, and therefore a waste of his time to consider it.

On the other hand...I can accept thru the point of imagination the "what if?" there were such a world premise...and with a good story, engage.

Lord of the Rings for me...thoroughly enjoyable. Heros, villains, personalities, courage, tears...all the emotions there. A story..a quest.

So...in a sense, I'm more like my son when it comes to that which purports to be life like, realistic...and paintings whose color representing life is dirty, tonal and so forth is so far removed from the realm of believability that other than homage due as predecessors I have a hard time appreciating them. Especially if there are Thomas Moran, WM Chase, and many others that painted from life.

Now Moran had a degree of tonal work, and glazing in his works...yet from observation had a great understanding of color and light. He stands apart from me the way Sargent is that exception of the one that used black without it hurting his paintings. Both masters...

...again, to my eyes.

Larry

Einion
09-14-2004, 01:26 PM
It was painting from life that brought him to that place however, and not a foundation of simply painting from photos.
Roger, that was pretty much what I was getting at.

FWIW I don't think you have to paint outdoors as a prerequisite to painting believable landscapes in the studio, but it's certainly a good route. A painter with some talent and a good understanding of their palette could switch to landscape from another genre and paint well from photos; you could argue that they would need to supplement close observation outdoors to compensate for the areas where photographs tend to be weakest but the basic skills with colour could be adapted to new subject matter fairly easily.

A photo ref now of course might be looked at by Aspevig just for a compositional idea...but the color work and such appears real, because the "real" is in him...
Agreed. I'm actually surprised anyone would hold him up as an example of flawed observation given the quality of his colour work to my eyes.

Personally...I think if they were alive today...with all that is available to them today, they would opt not to paint in their style or form.
I think in most cases that would almost certainly be correct.

It's true that, in general, the further back you go the less naturalistic landscape work becomes (but this is true of most other things in painting too :)) There is plenty of 17th-century painting however that is very realistic - the best of Dutch work shows a remarkable fidelity to the light and colour in northern Europe and from much earlier, Dürer's watercolours are excellent reproductions given their limitations in terms of pigments.

As for "natural" color and light however...these paintings appear often dirty, colors dull..and so forth.
To be fair there is a great deal of fading of some colours and discoloration of others that's responsible for much of the colouration seen in the landscapes of old oil paintings today; it's often said that oil painters in the past would have given their right arm for a reliable green pigment - there's more than one old painting with clear blue foliage in the background from the fading of an organic yellow that used to make them green! Tempera works often show a better fidelity to the artist's original intent because of the different binder; ditto with manuscript illustrations and also because they've been protected from light so well.

Einion

Marc Sabatella
09-14-2004, 02:01 PM
Agreed. I'm actually surprised anyone would hold [ Scott Christiansen] up as an example of flawed observation given the quality of his colour work to my eyes.


You have to remember the person making this comment is a Hensche disciple. That's practically a whole religion of color. While I would imagine that some people who don't otherwise buy into the religion might produce work that Henschites would find acceptable, it does seem to me that Christiansen's studio work clearly is *not* in this category, as his color schemes definitely seem relatively limited compared to other plein air painters. I personally don't see this as a problem, but I can see how a Henschite would.

LarrySeiler
09-14-2004, 02:13 PM
FWIW I don't think you have to paint outdoors as a prerequisite to painting believable landscapes in the studio, but it's certainly a good route. A painter with some talent and a good understanding of their palette could switch to landscape from another genre and paint well from photos;


Conceivably so. I lacked the talent myself...and I lacked knowing I was at a deficit. Having been more or less born and bred in hunting and fishing, time outdoors as an Eagle Scout, a father that was a fishing guide...I felt I was well tuned to be a wildlife artist and representative of nature.

I carried my 35 mm everywhere...crawled thru and into anything to get my shots, endured much. I had study mounts...and so forth, and the deficit and self-delusion increased when I won major competitions and developed a consistency in finishing in the top or runner-ups.

I thoroughly was convinced my works were natural, full of life, and that I had done my homework and worked such for near 20 years. It was only in taking my easel out 8 years ago that fetters were taken off my eyes, and what I didn't know or see made itself known.

Don't know what kind of genius, what kind of talent artists instudio have I didn't proving to understand natural light and color outdoors better than I did, but certainly conceivable that they could. It took setting up outdoors to discover my deficit and total humiliation.

Interesting, an associate and peer...well known for his painting of frolicking puppies and wildlife subjects, Jim Lamb, expressed in American Artist magazine that same humiliation when he first started painting plein air about 8-10 years ago. With his international reputation well established thru Wild Wings, he felt suddenly like he knew nothing about painting at all.

But...I'll agree with you...its conceivable and possible. I'd like to see some examples of some landscapes done PURELY from photos and insudio knowledge from painters that have never painted outdoors. I'll be looking specifically at their areas of shadow and treatment there perhaps more than anywhere else.


you could argue that they would need to supplement close observation outdoors to compensate for the areas where photographs tend to be weakest but the basic skills with colour could be adapted to new subject matter fairly easily.

Again...with my vast experience outdoors over a lifetime, admittedly thinking I had this ability...I must now in hindsight confess evidently to have lacked the basic skills. Again...I agree its probably conceivable others have such skills and understanding. It took painting directly from nature before nature would unlock such understanding to me.


To be fair there is a great deal of fading of some colours and discoloration of others that's responsible for much of the colouration seen in the landscapes of old oil paintings today; it's often said that oil painters in the past would have given their right arm for a reliable green pigment - there's more than one old painting with clear blue foliage in the background from the fading of an organic yellow that used to make them green! Tempera works often show a better fidelity to the artist's original intent because of the different binder; ditto with manuscript illustrations and also because they've been protected from light so well.

Einion

Interesting to consider, and good points...hmmm...yep, look how muted they thought Michelangelo's painting of the figures were on the Sistine ceiling before they cleaned it up.

Larry

LarrySeiler
09-14-2004, 02:31 PM
it does seem to me that Christiansen's studio work clearly is *not* in this category, as his color schemes definitely seem relatively limited compared to other plein air painters. I personally don't see this as a problem, but I can see how a Henschite would.

I'll have to agree Marc...and as I've assigned myself the task of using this limited palette to discover its potentials, such limited use sensitizes the eye to the subtleties of nature.

An interest in exploiting all color for color's sake will likely miss the subtleties of nature's beauty. There is a balance we seek. What is compelling to me in Scott's thinking, teaching and painting is that there is power in holding to RESERVE

I was looking at Marc Hanson's recent painting of the church he posted in the plein air forum...and you can see that subdued levels of grays, complimentaries and reserve was used throughout all the color, yet what power that church has as a convincing solid form. Where reserve constrains color, the result is that where you do choose to unleash a limited amount of color somewhere...how strong that color sings and purports to be.

There is much to learn there...but agree, likely to be missed where color is given higher place for existence. Even with the limited palette...I sometimes feel my work is yet TOO colorful. Accurate to what I'm seeing...but, more reserve yet to give greater voice to select areas. I'm striving to get hold of this right now...and its slowly coming.

Larry

bigflea
09-14-2004, 04:02 PM
Just a brief follow up to the remarks from Enion and Mark.

What surprises me in your comments Enion is the apparent disregard of the possibility that there is indeed a difference in the conception of how to develop coloring between those painters who follow and excel at a value/tone based local color variation and those like HHensche who taught and demonstrated the approach of the color light key. We have butted heads on this before elsewhere, and it is simply a case of those who subscribe to the value tone variation of the local object color making sweeping generalizations about the accuracy of color based on their concepts of what seems to be true to them.

Re. Clyde A., Scott C., and others mentioned here, there is nothing wrong with their approach to coloring, nothing that is if you think that the local object color is the dominate characteristic of the color harmony in a light key. With that concept, you only have to generalize about the value/tone shifts in the light and shade planes, always keeping the local color recognizable to convince the eye of the continuity of the form and the aerial perspective. That is the conventional approach, and it has been done to death very well by many painters over the whole history of painting. Clyde does it better than Scott in my opinion, and probably better than the Barbizon group except for Daubigny, in my opinion.

I have never seen any work by Scott C that looks to me like real daylight. In his imagery, virtually every scene, no matter where or when it is painted, has the same color solutions, except for the obvious change for a late sunsetting scheme. The same problem exists, for me, in the work of Clyde A., although not as blatantly. He seems to get more coloring richness in his work, but that in itself does not, to my eye, make the color believable as daylight. His work to me looks mainly like work done from very good photographs or video imagery. Much of the work in Clyde A looks wrong to me in value, especially in the shade values. That kind of tendency exists in every painter I have seen using the academic conventional approach based in value/tone shifts of the local object color.

Nor it is a question of painting from memory vs. direct observation. I think one can paint from memory and at times this may actually solve a problem better than reworking from observation. But it is a question of what the painter's remembered experience is. Those painters, who have never accepted the idea of the color light key, and who paint in nature using the same system or conception as learned in the studio approach, do not make paintings that show the color light key, but continue painting color as if they are in the studio, or looking at photographs of things. That is my opinion ofcourse, but it is based on working with alot of painters and seeing what happens when they develop the forms in daylight.

I realize many people, including almost everyone on the wc site, practically drool themselves to death over the work of these painters, and others like R Schmid, who to me looks like a competant illustrator but nothing more. I am making the statements I do because I can see how the color key alters the local object colors, and from that experience I know the color solutions made by those painters are not based on the keys that they claim to depict. They are generalizations, and in the work of Scott and Clyde very good generalizations, of the local color, varied in value and tonality very masterfully, and with an understanding of how to complete the painting in a convincing way.

So, I am not on the bandwagon. Everyone should believe what they want to believe until they prove to themselves it ain't so. But for my part, I am obligated to speak up for what I know to be true and present in nature visually, even though others wish to suppress it or call it something it is not in a derogatory way, in order to put others off of it, or to discredit it.

I do respect the achievement of those painters, and realize the difficulties of their methods, having once practiced them myself. They have all earned the notariety and success they have achieved, and ofcourse one can learn from them.

But it is a mistake to presume that there is nothing more to it, to be learned, than what is agreed on by everyone. One has to go out and observe for themselves without the pre determined conception, and without the voices and expectations of others ringing in their head about what is "truthful" painting. Popular opinion often has nothing to do with truth, and can even be contrary to what is true. One has to have an open mind and a naive sincerity in order to begin to see those things that others reject as inconveniences.

Learning to see the color light key is not the same thing as recognizing the values of the local object color. Once learned, the system that is based in value and tone variation of the local object color no longer has the convincing authority it has for those who still subsribe to it and believe it to be the visual "truth" in its entirety.

k

LarrySeiler
09-14-2004, 07:48 PM
Re. Clyde A., Scott C., and others mentioned here, there is nothing wrong with their approach to coloring, nothing that is if you think that the local object color is the dominate characteristic of the color harmony in a light key.
k


I'll ask you one question for clarification here Bigflea, if you don't mind.

What is "local object color" if not that relative cohesive factor whereby all masses and objects in one locale at one point in time are all thereby bathed in the same light???

You say local object color as though no regard were taken for its rightful truthful look. Truth is though...those objects (say especially to a plein air painter or one with such long experience) are being seen and therefore judged in an existing unifying naturally harmonizing light source...albeit the sun, and/or the influential atmospheric light canopy.

Since those objects are painted/bathed in the DOMINANT EXISTING light, would not painting them as objects actually seen represent the light key?

It would seem then the trick would be in trying to represent those objects in another light key OTHER than the one actually present to observe. No?

Larry

Marc Sabatella
09-14-2004, 08:43 PM
Re. Clyde A., Scott C., and others mentioned here, there is nothing wrong with their approach to coloring, nothing that is if you think that the local object color is the dominate characteristic of the color harmony in a light key.


This assumption is neither more not less true than your corresponding assumption about "light keys" themselves playing the dominant role. The work of painter like those of the Hensche school is often just as unsatisfying to those with more conventional ways of seeing color as their work is to you. Your way of seeing and interpreting color is not better than anyone else's; it is just different. If it pleases you, great, but that doens't make it any more objective right than any other method. The fact that to the vast majority of people, paintings from the Hensche school look *less* realistic than more conventional paintings says *something*. They may still represent valid artistic choices, but to say they represent *reality* better, well, that's just not true according to how most people see reality.

bigflea
09-14-2004, 11:45 PM
I understand your point Marc, and can agree with it in part. I doubt if anyone would disagree about the very obvious differences between an interior light key and a strong outdoor sunlight key. That itself would illustrate the dominating importance of the key in which the forms are being seen. However I am not making an assumption here regarding color. I am only commenting on the color characteristics of work seen in jpgs and when available in a gallery show. I am very aware of how the work of these often mentioned well known painters is seen by the majority of other artists working in the plein aire and representational modes, and also aware of the criticisms you make about color work from those who promote themselves as from the Hensche school of color. I do not automatically think work of painters claiming to practice those ideas is any greater than the work of these other painters. Sometimes I think it is worse, not because of Hensche's ideas, but because they are not color modeling the forms in a real light key in the way it was taught and intended to be developed. In other words, Hensche's work I feel best demonstrates his ideas, and sometimes the work of other painters' claiming to be practicing those ideas really does not, in my view.

I feel his methods of studying form in a color light key are potentially very helpful to anyone who sincerely studies it, but cannot be understood by applying standards for form development from the traditional value/tone modeling of the local object color.

I am not sure I understand your question Larry so correct me if I am wrong, but I think you are asking or stating 3 different things.

For me the phrase local object color refers to what is generally called color constancy. An object will be seen as red or blue or white or yellow in almost any light condition, and so it could be called the local object color. However, for painting, the local object color is not as descriptive an indicator of the visual color quality, and it is the light and atmospheric key, and how it alters the local object colors of all forms, that is the subject of the Hensche approach as I understand it. The local color is present in the light key consideration, and is more dominant in some situations than in others. However, it is still altered by the key, and in my opinion, cannot be convincingly painted if the key itself is not considered.

So I think this definition disagrees with the one you seem to be offering as the local object color being the cohesive unifying prevailing light.

The other two points you are making I do not quite follow, but it seems to me you are saying that since a painter is out there studying the color harmony as they see it, does that not make the work a study of the light key. To me the answer depends on the painting and the color solutions. I think most painters, including C.A. and S.C. consider the key as a value study primarily, and to me a value key, although valid as what it is, is not the same thing as a color light key study. After all, one can portray a light effect and a value key by using charcoal or pencil and no color. I am not saying color keys do not have proper or optimal value considerations, only that value shifts are not a reliable indicator of the color harmony especially when the concept of color is based in the idea of the constancy of the local object color.

It would indeed be quite a trick to paint very convincing color keys without actually observing them, but I do think you can do convincing painting from memory. My comment or question is only about what the painter's remembered experience is. If one only remembers pre conceived color schemes, they keep re appearing in all their work, vs. those works in which a new color relationship is discovered and understood visually.
b

Marc Sabatella
09-15-2004, 01:50 PM
I understand your point Marc, and can agree with it in part.


Well, I'm glad to hear that. On re-reading my post, all those typos make me look like a drooling idiot or raving lunatic.

BTW, it has been pointed out to me we were actually talking about Clyde Apsevig, not Scott Christiansen, when I observed that I could see Christiansen's work as being especially unsatisfying to someone of the Hensche school. I would nevertheless agree that Aspevig would not be seen as capturing as much of any sense of what you mean by "light key" as you might want, although I further agree there is probably more of a sense in his work than in Christiansen's. Among painters not specifically associated with the Hensche school, though, I am still surprised to hear Schmid lumped in with these others, as his work seems as much attentive to *his* idea of light key as anyone's, and while the paintings clearly don't look anything like those of the Hencsche school, they probably do a better job of capturing the aspects of "light key" that resonates with most people than just about any other painter I can think of.

bigflea
09-15-2004, 03:59 PM
I don't want to get off the topic of Larry's thread, but a brief clarifying ( in response to Marc) of how R Schmid gets lumped in here has to do with the color scheme vs. observation of color approach. I have not seen any R Schmid work that was not a jpeg or a video or a repro. in magazine, so my understanding of how he uses color is limited to that. From his commentary and his work that I have seen, and his own comments about his work and his methods, I believe he works mainly from the idea of color schemes rather than from those color harmonies a painter may discover while observing forms in a light key. He has those color cards and the idea of them seems about the same as getting color chips from a paint store to try and design a color scheme for your living room. Its great for interior decorators, but it is another version of preconceived color schemes, and in that way is contrary to the idea of teaching a painter how to observe the color relationships of masses of light and shade in a particular lighting situation. To me, this preconception shows very clearly in his work, and his coloring is mainly arbitrary, based on getting a generalized effect, for example, a painting relying on contrasts of red and green complements. That kind of teaching, to me, leads painters down the pathway of a decorator's approach to color in nature. It is not to say there is no validity to it in nature, it is only that it ignores the light key. He says as much in one of his videos. Someone asked him what to do when the sun goes behind the clouds. His response was, " .. only paint those things that don't change until the sun comes out again..". Most painters, who have worked outside for color study, realize that when the sun goes in and out, the key is changing, and when that happens everything changes in the overall harmonic arrangement. So at best his advice is misleading, and to me seems based again on a preconceived solution. I can see he illustrates the motif competantly, and that is usually enough to convince most observers of the truthfulness of a painting. Color, and how it is developed, seems often secondary, if not irrelevant, to how a painting is perceived.

He does those illustrative things that make an image easy to accept, like getting a distinctive edge for example, and some of the painterly devices, like attention to the focal area, making the peripheral areas of the painting less eye catching, so to speak. In other words, technical considerations, and picture making devices, that are not specific to any one method for color development. So i can understand how he is convincing to many painters, when looked at from a technique point of view.

Ofcourse, even though I do not look at his work as being authoritative for color understanding, I do feel he like the others deserves all the notariety and success they can muster. Just not on the bandwagon.
k

Marc Sabatella
09-15-2004, 06:58 PM
From his commentary and his work that I have seen, and his own comments about his work and his methods, I believe he works mainly from the idea of color schemes rather than from those color harmonies a painter may discover while observing forms in a light key. He has those color cards and the idea of them seems about the same as getting color chips from a paint store to try and design a color scheme for your living room. Its great for interior decorators, but it is another version of preconceived color schemes, and in that way is contrary to the idea of teaching a painter how to observe the color relationships of masses of light and shade in a particular lighting situation.

I'm not sure what you've read of his that gave you this idea, but it's contrary to what I have read. In particular, in Alla Prima, he over and over again warns against using pre-conceived color scheme. In fact, he names several such "decorator" based systems and points out the specific flaws with each, and summarizes by saying that harmony comes from nature itself, and what we need to do to achieve it in our paintings is to use the colors that we actually see. In fact, he specifically defines color harmony not as being colors that look good together to us (this is the decorator's notion), but rather, in terms of which colors are actually *possible* given the color and intensity of the light.

And unless you've just seen some unsually bad reproductions, there is no way one can reasonably claim that his paintings seem to rely on pre-set color schemes. Again, they might not deviate from the reality of what most of us actually see in the same way Hensche advocates, but clearly, he is doing a much better job of capturing color & light as most of see it than the vast majority of artists, Aspevig included, IMHO.

LarrySeiler
09-15-2004, 07:09 PM
However, for painting, the local object color is not as descriptive an indicator of the visual color quality, and it is the light and atmospheric key, and how it alters the local object colors of all forms, that is the subject of the Hensche approach as I understand it. The local color is present in the light key consideration, and is more dominant in some situations than in others. However, it is still altered by the key, and in my opinion, cannot be convincingly painted if the key itself is not considered.


Well...see, now this is the interesting point of difference really, because if I understand what you are saying here Bigflea...mature painters painting outdoor in natural light conditions are aware that the atmospheric light indeed is key to how color is perceived. However...we might learn simply to trust our eyes in responding to the influence of the light and paint how local color appears or, 'what we see' WITHOUT needing to cognitively acknowledge it as "the light key"...

Now...that being said...if we agree that we see the influence of the nature of the light on masses, color, values and so forth...(you calling it light key, me and others simply painting WHAT WE SEE, amounting to the same thing...) we still have a problem of sorts in that the results of what you and supposed Hensche learned painters paint in the form of a finished painting appears yet so vastly different from others that claim no such Hensche connection.

Evidently...there is yet some other thinking interpreting the actual influence of the light on land masses and objects than what you suggest above, for while the paintings are at times pretty, aesthetically interesting...I can' say I've seen much evidence of objects appearing in reality as depicted by yourself or other Hensche proponents. I don't mean that in a mean spirited manner or to be crass. Validation of such work in this regard is not required for others to enjoy it, buy it framed and enjoy it for all time.

To suggest though...that the Hensche people are specially gifted to see what others are not, and that this is a more accurate way of seeing misses the whole point of arguing what a light key is. If it is simply the relative influence of specific atmospheric light on how color and objects will be perceived, any and every artist spending any amount of time outdoors observing and painting from nature will come to recognize this.

Only the most novice of painters yet thinks..."sky blue, snow white, grass green"...! Seeing rightly requires recognizing the need to be attentive, and nature is capable of making itself known to those who commit themselves to a life of such.



So I think this definition disagrees with the one you seem to be offering as the local object color being the cohesive unifying prevailing light.

If you are saying local color is common misperception novice/student "blue sky, grass green, snow white" then I'll agree. However, when I refer to the local object color it is naturally as it appears rightly under the given existing light present.


It would indeed be quite a trick to paint very convincing color keys without actually observing them, but I do think you can do convincing painting from memory. My comment or question is only about what the painter's remembered experience is. If one only remembers pre conceived color schemes, they keep re appearing in all their work, vs. those works in which a new color relationship is discovered and understood visually.
b

I'll invite you Bigflea to take a look at Marc Hanson's recent painting of a rural church...for which he takes time to explain his methods of "reserve"...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=216186

The problem with thinking one can see the accurate color of each and every color and that by somehow painting all that in a painting will bring an end result to an excellent painting takes no consideration into the power of "reserve"...in grays and neutrals for what it convinces the viewer's mind it is seeing. I'd be curious to your response and analysis. I'm thinking you might be missing something when you say that many that paint outdoors are missing the light key...because in fact, they might be opting for the power of reserve, for devices that will promote the viewer's eye to that compulsion for which mandated their painting effort.

Rather than calling attention without just cause to areas of the painting not necessary under the taskmaster mandate of accurate color light key...BETTER options may have made it possible for the artist to emphasize something else, thus being in the "right key"...that is, holding to integrity for the purpose of guiding the viewer interest to other considerations.

Its like that instructing saying that says, "the novice paints everything he sees, the master discriminates"....meaning the novice thinks its clever to show what a good eye they have in getting everything on canvas they think others would miss. The master learns it is more important to understand what NOT to paint. To not allow many visual voices to shout...but use restraint and orchestrate.

It just seems to me in many paintings purporting to credit Hensche's influence, so much of everything in the painting appears to be shouting, competing for attention. Little evidence of the power of reserve.

Its like a step of faith that somehow by simply recording everything in its alleged more accurate state of color, that a painting will be produced that will appeal to all. IMHO...whereas, a painting that is masterful takes the eye on a specific journey with an intent to show more than a reporting. Don't you agree that it sounds to many as if the thrust of the Hensche thing is to prove oneself capable to do more accurate reporting? As though, getting color right were the only noble purpose of painting?

Where does discretion and orchestration enter into this thing? Expression and response?

Larry

LarrySeiler
09-15-2004, 07:49 PM
In fact, he names several such "decorator" based systems and points out the specific flaws with each, and summarizes by saying that harmony comes from nature itself, and what we need to do to achieve it in our paintings is to use the colors that we actually see.


Well said, and what I'm stumbling over my words trying to say, Marc! What the heck is the right light key in influencing color if its not accurately how color is seen relative to the existing light? Certainly...with the canopy of atmospheric light there before us it is a light, color and harmony gift wrapped and offered from nature itself!

Thus...the most reasonable reaction or course is to pay stinkin' attention to what nature is revealing of itself and paint what is seen.

The student in us gains from learning from others, but certainly a system of thinking about color is not necessary to see what light is doing in nature anymore than people need to take a special class in order to be readied enabled witnesses to future accidents or crimes. You see what you see. Some by experience will see more....so get the experience. Do more, and thus see more. Further, if your artistic expressions do not resemble the works of others, one does not have to subscribe to changes to assure quality control. Individualistic vision assures us to experience how the world appears THRU YOUR EYES...and that is what makes art interesting.

We need not suggest such an offering of nature requires some specialized way of seeing. Heck...we each have a stinkin pair of eyes, we can all stand before nature. Some will thru immaturity not see as much...yet, maturity is a process of working it thru. A life spent observing and responding is what makes paintings unique and worth looking at.

lARRY

bigflea
09-15-2004, 09:34 PM
Well stated points Marc, and it is curious that you make them because before I actually saw much of the work, I had read the artist's comments from his website, and to me, it indeed sounded like the same kind of stuff i was familiar with from studying color in nature. That is the generalized guidelines one might make to beginners and other interested painters about how to develop oneself, by studying from nature.

The commentary on his videos however contradicted the ideas of developing color harmony from the observation of the light key as a specific color key, especially the remark which i stated earlier. In seeing his videos (3) which were loaned to a friend by his father with the insistent plea that they be watched, it seemed to me he did not really grasp the idea of developing color harmonies beyond what has already been pointed out as a pre conceived scheme with some minor changes. Why on earth would any painter need color cards except for the pre conception of what colors are going to be used? Besides, for the cards to be of any use one would have to run the card out to the distant object they are trying to paint and see how the card looks when they run back to their vantage point. In other words the cards are irrelevancies, except in the context of an interior designer approach to color schemes. It is a case, in my opinion, of someone saying alot of stuff that sounds good, but in practice being far more arbitrary and conceptually oriented than one might presume from his website comments. Nothing wrong in that, just that to me it is not related to the study of a color key as I understand them. Ofcourse one can point to the various ways color schemes appear in nature as variations of complements, and try to work from that perspective of color for their work. Yet to me that is no different than color design, without specific reference to a color light key. It is widely practiced in many forms of art, such as the art of the Chinese and Japanese. So I am not questioning the validity of what he does, only the relative relationship to specific color modeling problems that are present in color light keys. He, imo, makes little contribution to that understanding.
k

bigflea
09-15-2004, 10:39 PM
I think you are making some very good points here Larry and do not disagree with most of the ideas you are seeming to put forth.

Just to clarify, I do see work done by painters who have no connection to HH that to me does indeed show what looks like a convincing light key, and also see work done by painters following HH's ideas that is not convincing to my eye, although I may better understand what they are trying to do than others unfamiliar with the approach. So I would agree that one could arrive at a similar conclusion as HH did simply by a persistent study of the color relationships in different light and atmospheric conditions. I do not think it is an accidental conclusion, but revolves mainly around the painters' ability to recognize the color distinctions between the masses of light against the masses of shade, and a few variations within each. Those color mass distinctions, imo, carry the main harmonic color theme, and if they are made clearly, it does show a specific light key. There is more to it by way of the convincing development of specific forms, and a painter has to familiarize themselves with particular forms, imo, to paint them convincingly.

In practice I feel it is often a matter of degree, eg, in C.A.'s work, there is to me a sense of a light key, but also a sense of over generalizing that takes away from the work. I do not have the link, but an example of some work unrelated to the HH school that I thought was very good in some cases was in a recent TRAILSIDE GALLERY show of a group of painters working in CANYON DE CHEILLY. So I don't think the development of convincing color light keys is the exclusive domain of work from the HH group.

I realize that some of HH's work, and my own work, does not fulfill the expectations of painters' who are unfamiliar with that appoach. To me that points to the possibilities of what is visually present in nature, yet unseen or overlooked, and not to the failure or impossibility of the color harmonies depicted. It is simply the further removed the color relationships are from the expectations of a viewer, the more shocking they are, the less likely they are to be believed. I don't paint what I do for shock value, and never saw HH do that either, but nevertheless, the colors as I see them and paint them usually surprise those unaccustomed to them.

I personally do not subscribe to the idea that color understanding is a unique gift for a few. It may be, but in my experienc color harmonies are gradually learned and relearned and un learned. Anyone could learn to develop very diverse color harmonies with a good method for doing so. To me that method is color modeling form in specific light keys, which is what HH taught. There may be other methods to develop one's color perceptions, but that is the one I know works if studied the way it was intended.

I think we see generalized over colored work coming from the HH painters when they are not doing the color modeling of forms the way it was taught, but are instead trying to use bright pastel colors in every situation as a substitute for color modeling. In that way it can become another version of color schemes that are not specific enough to be seen as a convincing light key by the average viewer.

I feel the point you are making about neutrals is an important one. In practice, there are a great many more neutral colors in a painting than there are saturated, obvious colored ones, imo. However those "colorless colors", as HH liked to call them, are not greys, in most cases, that is not dead neutrals, and part of the difficulty of convincing color work, it seems to me, is learning how to make those colored neutrals specific in a harmonic range.

I hope you are not suggesting I offer any comment on Marc's painting. I think that might be highly offensive to him.

Re. the idea of orchestration vs reporting facts, I agree, and it comes down to what is really important to the overall meaning of the painting. This is really not about the color development so much as is about making an artform out of all the ingredients of the visual presentation. I know in practice one thing may have to be sacrificed in order to reach for the expression of something more clearly and eloquently. One may have to give up part of a light key in order to more fully develop a form, or sacrifice some of the form to express something about the light and atmosphere. Painters are hopefully reaching for the art and poetic expression they are capable of, and not simply recording facts, color or otherwise.
k

FriendCarol
09-16-2004, 12:15 AM
I've read this whole discussion. Yikes! :)

When I was about 12, my uncle decided I had a "good color sense," whatever that means. After discussing the matter with (apparently) an illustrator, he gifted me with a box of opaque Pelikan watercolors. In those days I had to paint "plein air" -- painting inside my mother's house was forbidden. :rolleyes: Therefore, I started (as we probably all do) as an 'optical' painter. Not knowing any better, and with no teachers, I was forced to try to reproduce what I saw from my 24 pan colors (of which 2 were silver & gold!) -- gouache doesn't encourage color mixing.

For me, painting was entirely nonverbal, and thus meditative. Sometimes I'd just play with liquid color. Other times, as an adult, I'd go out to Central Park (NYC) with my Pelikan pans (as I used up my favorite pans, I'd just buy the same set again!), trying to paint what I saw. I would simplify and rearrange, but essentially I tried to "get the colors right." I can still remember my amazement when I accidentally discovered evergreens looked more "real" if I had some orange in them (even though I couldn't really SEE the orange). I was in my 40's by then, yet I was so surprised and excited by this fact that I mentioned it to a stranger on the bus, on my way home that day. :D

Almost 2 years ago, I decided to start painting "seriously." Earlier I had pretty much given up painting, because I became disabled (can't sit much)... But then I saw an affordable easel on eBay and it occurred to me: if I had an easel, the painting could just sit there, waiting for me, until I could put in another brief session in my kneeling chair.

So I bought that easel. Then I started reading library books about watercolor. I soon realized I should be using tubes of transparent paints, and heavier paper. It took me another year to get enough money to buy these basic supplies.

Now, I've read quite a bit. Mastering the basic color recipes was easy; I know what split primaries, and split complementaries, and analogous color schemes are, etc. But I have not changed how I respond to the world (or, sometimes, my inner world) as a painter. Rather, I am now trying to understand my innate color choices It's not easy!

I'm no longer an optical painter, even for plein air type paintings. In part that's because I'm more sophisticated now in my understanding of what one sees: I know, now, that (for example) if I'm looking at a shaded area, I'm seeing more variation within it than I would see if I were looking into the sunny area next to it. So I don't believe, now, that one CAN simply 'reproduce what one sees."

Nor do I use a color scheme, or at least not anything identifiable. Particularly when using paint as meditation, I tended not to use pure primaries (with gouache) -- often 'turquoise" and "vermillion" were my major color notes, for example. Another combination I used frequently was yellow ochre and burnt umber... It's hard to describe such combinations in any general way, but I had very strong preferences for particular combinations of such non-primary colors. If I were to use a musical analogy, I'd say I enjoyed creating a slight edginess -- not quite a dissonance -- with color.

Until last year, I didn't realize pigments had specific qualities, either. I was always puzzled, and annoyed, when one of my gouache pigments didn't behave the same way as another -- didn't diffuse in water to the same extent, for example! :rolleyes: Now, I've become very familiar with characteristics such as graininess or flocculation, transparency, staining, etc., and enjoy taking advantage of these color "quirks." (I particularly admire Zoltan Szabo's work in this sense.)

I spent a long time studying pigments (months and months, long before I could buy any). My studies included reading and re-reading the Handprint.com site, while I diagrammed various potential palettes.

I've been painting with artist's quality (W/N) transparent colors for about 8 months now. My palette, still undergoing occasional revision, consists of 20 paints -- no black, and no white (I'm a watercolor painter by choice; no attraction to oils or pastels at all). Here's how I determine my palette for a particular painting, as best as I can bring my process to consciousness:

I first ask (not necessarily verbally): What about this scene (or what I've taken from the scene visually) is most important to the proposed painting? It's seldom about color temperature (which I now understand, but which was unknown to me in my formative years). Usually I come up with some "color-mood" -- it's grainy, or it's lucid; it's a particular shade of blue; or it's about this brilliant light against this very dark interior (what I've now learned to call 'value').

Then, somehow, I solve a sort of multivariate equation model in which the variables are my available pigments, and the goodness of fit of my possible solutions has a lot to do with minimizing how many I must use. It's all about the color mixing potential of my choices.

For example, if I need strong darks, I often end up using perm. Alizarin Crimson as my red, and that then helps to constrain what other colors I use. If I'll need black (or 'crevice darks'), Winsor green will be part of any solution that already includes Aliz. Crimson. My yellow might end up being gold ochre (winter landscape), raw umber (dark skin), new gamboge (rosy glowing light of the setting sun), etc.

The palette is whatever minimal set of paints (within my larger palette) will get the job done -- will communicate that most important impression (or "color-mood"). Getting all the colors right (like an optical painter) simply doesn't enter into it anymore.

Once I've set the palette for a painting, it's never happened (so far) that I add another color. I'll alter colors (local color of objects) before I'll introduce something that doesn't fit my palette "solution!" Does that mean I'm using a color scheme? Perhaps it does -- but it's not any scheme anyone has defined! Even if I'm only using 3 colors in a painting, once I've started, I'm not going to add another color (despite the fact that other paintings' palettes might have as many as 6-7 of my selected palette colors).

Although I'm new to painting (proper painting, anyway!), I'm an experienced artist in another field. There's a tension between what the work wants to do, and what I want to do, that I recognize from my work as a writer. Maintaining the palette that belongs to a particular painting is, for me, like not introducing a new character into a play, or not changing the established parameters of a poem. Hope that makes sense; can't explain it any better....

Btw, I'm definitely a color (not value) painter; indeed, I'm practically a visual idiot in b&w. (I was reading "The Painter's Secret Geometry" last week, and often couldn't make out what was in the b&w illustrations -- was there a face somewhere in that? Two faces? Was that a horse? Did those legs belong to that animal there? -- and these were classical paintings, nothing modern or distorted!) I'm really hopeless at seeing without color clues.

I hope this is helpful to you, Larry (and interested others), in understanding how some of us paint!

Marc Sabatella
09-16-2004, 12:35 AM
The commentary on his videos however contradicted the ideas of developing color harmony from the observation of the light key as a specific color key, especially the remark which i stated earlier.

My take on this is that you are probably reading too much significance into an off the cuff remark. Sure, we can all see why in theory everything would change when the sun goes behind a cloud, but the reality is - things that were in shadow anyhow aren't go to change *as much* in color, and certainly, virtually nothing (except light/shadow shapes) is going to change in shape/size/position, so drawing can still be worked on with the sun gone. So unless you truly want to stop working at all until the sun comes back - which is of course an option - I think he is just trying to say what would be be the least problematic things to work on, and I think there can be dispute that he'd be right about what those things are.


Why on earth would any painter need color cards except for the pre conception of what colors are going to be used?


Well, one definitely wouldn't "need" them no matter what. But they can still be useful even in the absence of preconceived ideas. All you do is look at the actual color a given shape appears to be, and find which color spot has that same color, then mix it up. That is direct observation, not anything preconceived.


Besides, for the cards to be of any use one would have to run the card out to the distant object they are trying to paint and see how the card looks when they run back to their vantage point.


Huh? This would make the cards useless. The card needs to be held the same distance from you as the painting will ultimately viewed - and ideally in the same kind of light - so you can which color mixture *under actual viewing conditions* best matches the color in the scene *under the lighting conditions in effect while you are painting*. It seems to me you must be completely misunderstanding the purpose of the color charts, and this is further evidenced by comments like:


In other words the cards are irrelevancies, except in the context of an interior designer approach to color schemes.


Nonsense. The charts don't help you choose which colors you might "like", which is how a decorator might use them, they are simply to help you determine how to actually *mix* the colors you actually *see*.

bigflea
09-16-2004, 10:19 AM
Understand your points Marc, and I don't consider the remarks he makes on his videos as being his final words on anything in particular. My point was mainly that they are not very helpful remarks, and in several cases to me seem to really mislead and misconstrue ideas about color in the work of other painters, who have made a greater contribution to the study of color in nature than he does in my opinion. For example he makes many remarks about adding "impressionistic things" into the finishing, and while to you such a remark is off the cuff, to me it is a dismissal of something that is important to clarify. As far as I know, there are no "impressionistic things" in nature, but the impressionist vision of nature, or of the visual world, is one that can be learned and then applied. His commentary to me in general seems to allude to his own mastery of all of these noble ideas, but his own understanding of them seems to me superficial and trite.

Regarding the cards, still, I think you are making the same point, that they are pre conceived color schemes, as you say, intended only as a guide for mixtures on the board. So then what is the point of matching your board to the pre conceived mixture? That preconceived mixture is still unrelated to the motif you are trying to paint. The only way you could understand the relationship between the light key and pre conceived formulas is to put the whole pile of cards in the same light key and see how it is altered by it. That is my point. So, i disagree with him about the use of pre conception of how to mix any color.

The main point you make that I disagree with however is in regard to the change in key as the sun goes in and out. I disagree that the shade planes remain the same, as the sun goes behind the clouds. When the key changes, the shade planes change both in color and shape. When the sun goes behind the clouds on a sunny day, the entire arrangement of the key changes, not just the pattern of the light effect, as he seems to think, but the color quality of the shade planes, and the shape of the notes that compose the shade planes. The shade notes do not exist in isolation from the sunlight plane notes, but are seen together in a harmonic arrangement. If these are altered in any way, neither is the same. It is a new or different arrangement. So to me that is a great misunderstanding on his part, and points to his lack of knowledge regarding the way light keys are arranged in a specific harmonic color key, and to his generalization of colors in his pre conceived color scheme approach.

Ofcourse, this thread is not about a debate re. light keys, so just want to add in that I think you can paint very fine color paintings without any specific reference to nature, or keys. One example could be the work of Klee. I think this goes to one of Larry's points about the individual vision of the painter and how it may be expressed.
k

FriendCarol
09-16-2004, 10:38 AM
This gives every sign of becoming a private conversation, but I'll try again to make one of my points: The human eye is not a camera (obviously): It is both more and less sensitive to light and color. If you look in one place, the part of your retina that has most densely packed receptors (which happens to be at the very center of your (stereo) vision (although the exact center of your retina actually has NO receptors!) will be missing information it could take in about the other space out there -- the space it's not focused on.

Thus, if you try to paint by matching exactly all the colors of what is OUT THERE as you're looking at it, your end result will not be a painting that resembles what you see -- not if you want a focal point, anyway. Most extreme example of this effect: If you're looking at shade (as I said previously), you won't also be seeing all the color information about a sunny patch, and vice versa. But if you paint by first looking at the shade, then looking at the sunny areas, and putting in all possible color information, the end result (colors in the painting) is not going to be like what the eye sees when it looks at (the focal point of) the scene.

Also, as we all know (don't we?), atmospheric perspective must be emphasized if we want it to contribute to a realistic-SEEMING sense of distance in a landscape -- the actual (physical) change is too small to have a perceptible effect except under very smoggy or hazy conditions. Do we really want to abandon this tool in favor of more "accurate" color?

It's the mind, not the eye, that interpretes (sees) a painting. The mind is part of the whole human, whether or not the eye could be physically reproduced (or utilized after removal) as a measurement instrument hooked up to electrical receivers, etc.

Similarly (although I know this thread is in the color forum), we don't see everything in the same focus, either. Do you, as an optical painter, also want every object sharp-edged as you enter it into your painting? ;)

AFM159
09-16-2004, 01:00 PM
I have to chime in here because FriendCarol is making some good points about an area that is interesting to me.

Thus, if you try to paint by matching exactly all the colors of what is OUT THERE as you're looking at it, your end result will not be a painting that resembles what you see -- not if you want a focal point, anyway.

There is much truth to this statement and it can most easily be demonstrated with linear perspective. We all asume that when looking at an object (most notably: a built object) that the lines, or edges, are straight and that as parrallel lines recede from our viewpoint they converge in straight lines to a vanishing point.

The reality, however, is that our eyes are round, as is the interior retinae, so what your eye really sees, is more akin to a fisheye lense on a camera, and the lines that you are seeing are actually visually curved. This was demonstrated most notably in the work of M.C. Escher who pioneered the concept of curved perspective. Our bodies make up for this in some sense as we have stereo vision, but it is our brain that does all the interpretation and helps us to think of these things as straight.

So what I see FriendCarol talking about is focus and how we focus and move our eye around to view a scene. If you are looking at a scene, and have picked some object as a center of interest, and look directly at that center of interest, areas outside of that central vision are out of focus, what we commonly call peripheral vision, and the color and shape of those objects outside your central focus are different than when you move your eye to look at them directly. And when you move your eye, what you were just looking at is now different, as you have changed your focus.

The fact is, none of us are actually painting what our eyes are seeing. We are interpreting that information, based partly on our biological makeup and partly on our personal makeup (ie: experience, memory, and personality).

There is also the added fact of the sheer volume of information that is taken in when viewing a scene. Every one of us knows you have to eliminate certain amounts of that information to make a painting work. You can't possibly put it all in, so at the very beginning you are interpreting what you see. This goes to what Larry was talking about, ie: interpretation and reserve.

So as FriendCarol has said, its the mind, the whole human that is making and seeing the painting. And each one of us (including bigflea and Larry) comes to the easel with a preconcieved set of rules/ideas/personality/experience that we use when painting. That includes our choices of pigments and how we mix them to match what we think (or have convinced ourselves) we are seeing. And why each and every one of us paints a different painting of the same scene.

My point is that any given color sceme or theme is as valid as any other for interpreting a given scene. It's your personal approach as an artist. Wether you are trying to "see" what is there or not, you cannot separate who you are personally from what you are seeing and your response to it will be influenced by that.

bigflea
09-16-2004, 01:07 PM
What did you say Carol? Just kidding. For the record i took note of your earlier comments. What would you call your color approach? The other conversation was about interpreting light keys, and what that means, as a tangent to the overall thread, which seems to be about how color choices are made. Yours sounds like the free poetic spirited approach, for lack of another name.

I understand your last comments about the way the eye perceives color and how the mind interprets the world, vs. what may actually be seen by the eye. In part that is why it seems to me that color seeing is actually learned. That is, to understand something as color harmonies, to a certain degree the mind's learned interpretation of what the information is has to be overlooked.
Maybe you don't mean that.
k

bigflea
09-16-2004, 01:14 PM
brief note of agreement with both dave and friend carol's points re. focus vs. peripheral vision, the roundness of the eye lens and how these relate to the development of color perception. I spent time investigating the topic with two optical scientists who do research in that specific field.
k

Richard Saylor
09-16-2004, 02:12 PM
Carol and Dave: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Marc Sabatella
09-16-2004, 04:01 PM
Regarding the cards, still, I think you are making the same point, that they are pre conceived color schemes, as you say, intended only as a guide for mixtures on the board. So then what is the point of matching your board to the pre conceived mixture? That preconceived mixture is still unrelated to the motif you are trying to paint.


Why would you think that? The whole idea is you *do* match it to what you are trying to paint. True, you can't match everything perfectly, but you couldn't do that without the charts, either. And at least the charts can allow you to see the closest match, and you can figure out how to adjust from there. if you end up choosing a color unrelated to what you are trying to paint, you must have misused the charts.

Like I said, I'm not fan of color charts either, but they certainly shouldn't inhibit you from coming as close as possible to matching the colors you see. You can if you choose (and I make the same choice) try to some sort of ad hoc mixture to match the colors you see, but again, given the goal of matching color, there is simply no way any rational person would be hindered by having a hint on how to possibly mix it.


The only way you could understand the relationship between the light key and pre conceived formulas is to put the whole pile of cards in the same light key and see how it is altered by it.


Again, that *completely* misses the point of the color charts. The painting is not going to be viewed in the same light as the subject, so why on earth would you want your color charts to be? This will *guarantee* you get the wrong color. The only useful way to use the color charts is to have them in the same light as the painting, not the subject.


So, i disagree with him about the use of pre conception of how to mix any color.


Then you disagree with physics, as well. If mixing two colors gave you a given square on a color chart, you can rest assured they will do so again in your painting. That's the whole paint. You can try to mix the same color some other way, and you might even succeed, but there is certainly going to be no harm in mixing the same color the same way twice. The only area - and it's a big one - where preconceptions cause problems in this area is when they cause you to use to color that is *not* what you are seeing (because, for example, some theory tells you that you "should" be seeing else, or because you are led to believe that misrepresenting the color will lead to more pleasing aesthetic choices, which is of course what the Hensche school relies upon). But the whole idea of the color charts is to help you more reliably and quickly reproduce what you are in fact seeing.


The main point you make that I disagree with however is in regard to the change in key as the sun goes in and out. I disagree that the shade planes remain the same, as the sun goes behind the clouds. When the key changes, the shade planes change both in color and shape.


Well, I already said the light shadow shapes will change. But not the shapes *within* either area. You can still work on perspective, drawing the branches of a tree, etc, because the lioght is *not* going to move any of those things. And while there may indeed be some subtle color changes within the shadow area, even you will presumably have to admit those changes are not *nearly* as extreme as in the light areas. At most you might have to modify the color slightly later.

So to me that is a great misunderstanding on his part, and points to his lack of knowledge regarding the way light keys are arranged in a specific harmonic color key


All it says to me is that he doesn't believe in the same religion as you. The Ordinary observation relied upon by most artists, and most viewers of art, says that these changes are relatively insignficant. You can choose to exaggerate for some sort effect if you want, and you can even pretend this represents relaity, but it does not. It's just one particular way of altering reality to fit your aesthetic religion.

bigflea
09-16-2004, 09:05 PM
Sorry Marc but think you are way off on the non changing concepts of light and shade planes. To my eye when the sun goes behind clouds, everything changes in both shape and color. The reason however is I am trying to paint the harmony of the key, not the literal details of the forms, within the masses of the light and shade planes. So maybe you are assuming that the shapes of color I am refering to are the linear drawing details in a shade area.

Also, any pre mixed pigment, which is a local colored object, really has no relationship to the subject you are painting in the key, until it is seen in that key. You may prefer to have these as a guide, in the same way someone may be trying to develop a particular harmony, for example of blue and gold or so on, but it is still a decorator approach to color, and a formula for color, that can work against you just as much as it may be thought to be an asset. It seems to me your argument is for conceptual paintings.

Seems to me you are determined to prove that I am somehow wrong because I don't support your beliefs in one of your assumptions, re. the way rs should be seen. To me, the ideas HH taught were universal ones, and not a part of a religion, as you want to cast it. They are ideas that are available for anyone to explore, however they do not lead you to confirm your pre conceived ideas about how color is seen in nature.
k

AFM159
09-17-2004, 01:11 PM
I do have a couple of questions for you bigflea, if I may? I have been doing some research, looking into the concepts that you subscribe to. I looked at the Hensch Foundation website and some of the other artists websites linked to it, and I've read thru a number of your posts in other threads.

I believe I understand what you are after and why. Whether I could subscribe to them myself, remains to be seen, however, I like to keep an open mind.

What I am missing from your explanations so far is: How do you arrive at your specific color choices? The painting that comes to mind is the one of the desert canyon or highlands where you described, as I recall, as many as 6-8 colors for the sky alone. And I am assuming that you probably used as many colors throughout the rest of the painting as well. How do you make your color choices if you do not have a preconcieved notion of what to paint?

The other thing that I am not quite understanding is that you visit a particular painting spot over several times to complete a painting. So if the light key, as you call it, is always changing, due to time of day, weather conditions, seasons, etc, How do you arrive at a specific light key in your painting? Would not the light be different every day, even every hour? Most outdoor artists I have read about say that the maximum time for the light to remain stable is about two hours. How does this fit with your painting method?

Now it may be that you have explained this before and I read it and have forgotten, if so please excuse me, I'm just curious.

Marc Sabatella
09-17-2004, 01:17 PM
The reason however is I am trying to paint the harmony of the key, not the literal details of the forms, within the masses of the light and shade planes. So maybe you are assuming that the shapes of color I am refering to are the linear drawing details in a shade area.


I'm not assuming anything regarding what you are saying. I am addressing Schmid's comments. There *are* things that change not even in the slightest bit, and those can be dealt with just as well when the sun goes behind a cloud. There are other things that change a little, and those can be dealt with to some extent, perhaps to be looked at and adjusted slightly later. Schmid is absolutely 100% verifiably objectively right about this. You can can choose to be unconcerned with those things, but they do exist, and can be painted.


Also, any pre mixed pigment, which is a local colored object, really has no relationship to the subject you are painting in the key, until it is seen in that key.


No relationship except a color on the chart seen under "normal" lighting might happen to be exactly the same hue, value, and intensity as a color not in the real scene under the real light. In the real world, that kind of stuff matters. Again, if your goal is to capture what you see, this works. If your goal is to invent some sort of fiction loosely based on what you actually see, that's your right, of course. But if you want to match what you see, the color charts do work as advertised.


You may prefer to have these as a guide, in the same way someone may be trying to develop a particular harmony, for example of blue and gold or so on, but it is still a decorator approach to color


Once again, it is NOTHING, not even in the slightest remote sense, anything like a decorator's sense. If you are seeing a relationship, it is because you are somehow still COMPLETELY missing the point of how these charts are used. I've explained it as best I can, and would think it would be self-evident. You're either going to have to stop pretending you don't understand what I am saying, or call off this discussion. This is like denying 2 + 2 = 4.


Seems to me you are determined to prove that I am somehow wrong because I don't support your beliefs in one of your assumptions, re. the way rs should be seen.


I am merely pointing out the areas in which you *are* wrong - in how the color charts are used, in your response to Schmid's comment about the sun going behind a cloud. You don't have to *like* his paintings; I couldn't care less if you do or not. I don't love them all, either. It's not about liking them or not. It's about the verifiably true statements he has made regarding color and shape.


To me, the ideas HH taught were universal ones, and not a part of a religion, as you want to cast it.


Call it what you will. It is a system for getting to people to paint colors that are *other* than the ones most people actually see, and people who subscribe to this system often become irrationally convinced that this particular fiction is more real than reality. If it suits you, fine, but that sounds an awful like the definition of a religion to me.

bigflea
09-17-2004, 03:55 PM
Well Marc it is apparent that you agree with the system he promotes, including the idea that the change in the key is insignificant or non existent. Using that approach does help explain why paintings done in that system or conception repeat the same color ideas over again and again no matter what the key is, and why those who subscribe to it do not depart from the traditional colors for objects that are acceptable to the widest audience. You are telling me that what I see does not exist and it does not exist for me, in your logic, because you do not see it. You do not see the change in the harmonic relationship that i am referring to, and therefore no one should or could. You have the perfect system, or rs does.

Re the cards, I am not interested at all in how the colors on my board relate to the pre mixed colors of the cards. It is irrelevant. I might be interested in how the pre mixed colors look in the light key of the composition. Stick the cards out there in the same light of the composition, then make your adjustments. Also you are wrong about not comparing my painting to the key. After I have my color development moving in the direction I believe it must go, I almost always turn the thing into the same light of the composition and see how it looks. I want to know. I am not looking for one to one color matching, simply want to see how the harmonic arrangement i believe is there in the composition compares directly to the one that is forming on the board.

So you have a system that you think works, and all I am telling you is it does not apply to what I do for the reasons given. You do not have to believe me, and it seems you have it all pre figured as to what is allowed to change and what isn't regarding color in keys. The substance of your comments to me seems to be that whatever does not confirm your concept of color is therefore a fiction because you do not see it.

I do understand what you are saying, what the comparison idea is, all I am saying is that it does not apply to what I am attempting in the way I work. It would not matter how many charts or color cards or what have you premixed, the point I want to make to myself is to discover a new combination of colors if such a thing is possible. I believe that it is. I am far more interested in not knowing before the actual painting time what mixtures to use, than I am in having prescribed color formulas or cards or any thing pre selected. I am far more interested in discovery of a new color key relationship, and in new combinations of pigments, and by relying on mixing with as little pre conceiving as possible I get closer to my goal.

When the sun goes behind the clouds, I stop trying to make the colors of that key. Everything, especially the small transitional notes, change. Nothing in the popular RS approach is similar to the one which I try to follow, with the exception of both using oil paint. You can scream at me that things do not change, but i can see they do.

I agree with you in part about the color work of painters subscribing to HH's ideas. I often fail to see any relationship to his work, except for the attempt to use what they think are similar pigments. I do not see light keys in some of this work, but only colors that are not related to a daylight key. Alot of those who claim to be following the idea are not painting light keys, not modeling forms in the key, and this shows in the overcoloring of the work. I know what painters who criticise the approach mean by garish looking coloring. In terms of color study, it means the painter is not doing the comparative color modeling that leads to somber and convicing light keys.

So I do not think you are all wrong in that opinion. I only think you don't believe that color keys can exist in a way that you do not already conceive of them.
k

bigflea
09-17-2004, 04:30 PM
Brief reply to AFM 159 questions.

I 'll try to answer. (are they trick questions?)

I arrive at color choices, or do not arrive at them, mainly by trial and error. I generally do not start with any pre mixed color, and even try to forget previous recipes that may have worked, and just begin with color straight out of the tubes, for the most part. I begin with what are the major masses of light or shade, making a flat unmixed color for each, which is a big overcolored generalization, totally unlike the motif, except that the arrangement of light and shade is in a similar arrangement. If i do this the way I learned to do it, the painting in the beginning looks like a ridiculously overcolored poster cutout, with the cleanest purest saturated color that is possible. That usually is the first 20 minutes. In the second part of this beginning, which could last another 30 minutes at best, I then begin mixing into each of those clean saturated colors with one or two or more pigments, re stating the original note of color in a comparative way to all the other notes and to the motif. Hopefully, by the end of this first session, I have stated the masses of the light key as well as they can be stated without any variations. Any mass of a painting may have 3 to 12 or more different pigments plus white to make it. I usually have more than 12 pigments on the palette, to select from, and as the painting develops but does not succeed I may add more, and change what pigments I am attempting to use to get at a note.

Light keys do change quickly, especially as the season changes and the time of day changes. A key any longer than 1 hour is a stretch. Morning and late afternoon keys may be as short as 10 minutes. Unless you are happy with doing quick alla prima sketches, to study the color relationships of a key you have to return to it, by coming back at the same time of day during that season with very similar atmospheric situations. Even then you will see harmonic changes to what you may have thought was an accuracy in color. So it means you work at it as best you can. There is far more variety, imo, in the color quality of light keys, than is indicated in the majority of paintings. But there are similarities in keys that the painter can attempt to develop from one day to the next. For example, a morning light key may have a subtle cadmium scarlett quality to the light planes, which can be seen from one morning to the next in the same season and time. Over a period of days the painter can restate their colors to get to that quality in the color notations, without making everything overcolored as a scarlett note. If I see two different morning light keys, I usually try to paint each one separately, rather than generalize them into one painting. Again they are observations about subtle color distinctions that are difficult to see and to understand in pigment. Yes keys change, but with practice the similarities and distinctions become more recognizable to anyone who puts the effort to it.

Hope that answers the questions.

AFM159
09-17-2004, 05:46 PM
No, no trick questions, just curiosity, as I couldn't recall you haveing quite explained it as such, and as I said, I like to keep an open mind. Thanks for the response, I do appreciate it.

Regarding the ridiculously overcolored poster cutout, as you put it, I was wondering about that as I had seen a picture of one of the painters or maybe it was Hensch himself, with a painting at that stage and wondered what they were trying to do.

Thanks.

LarrySeiler
09-17-2004, 07:01 PM
Thus, if you try to paint by matching exactly all the colors of what is OUT THERE as you're looking at it, your end result will not be a painting that resembles what you see -- not if you want a focal point, anyway.


yes...a good point.

Teaching, instructing I point out that there are the possibilities of producing perhaps a half dozen paintings at any one scene that grabs you by the jugular that compels to be painted. The novice paints everything, the master discriminates. Often what NOT to paint more important than what to paint.

Like a choral director...you orchestrate and opt what visual voices will be heard, what the melody line will be, the harmonies and always there is a cohesiveness you seek such that your effort is not undermined.

The thing is...I wonder...if color is always the emphasis, do not artists stand to miss out on sensitivity to other aesthetics that are responsible for the compulsion to paint?

Sometimes I am accutely aware of strong and interest verticals juxtaposed against the horizontals, and the drama of dark and light. Another time it might be the way light's unique voice comes off an angled plane such as a barn's roof.

Making the light key always that essential pervading necessity seems to me it may well undermine the openness one brings to the table for what you might observe or respond to in nature.

Color is often strongly connected to the drama...but I seek the essential few elements necessary to catch the spirit or the "ah-Hah!" of what grabbed me.

Sometimes it may be the somber subtlety of neutrals composed that best project an "ah-Hah!" Certainly though...matching all the colors exactly as a self-imposed disposition or agenda might actually work against what might best represent the hidden mysteries and beauty of the moment.

Larry

LarrySeiler
09-17-2004, 07:28 PM
The fact is, none of us are actually painting what our eyes are seeing. We are interpreting that information, based partly on our biological makeup and partly on our personal makeup (ie: experience, memory, and personality).

Maturity...creativity, celebration call for us to sometimes give voice to particular elements of nature that might otherwise go unnoticed. The aim to bring out and reveal a hidden mystery or beauty. Cause people even to look against at the mundane and ordinary for what hidden beauty may be there.

I might intend to paint one or two elements of compulsion that move me greatly...and perhaps in so doing am aware of design, compositional, technical devices to my disposal. I may opt to use neutrals in adjacent areas that the colorist might declare failing to capture the color of that actual object...yet, I may succeed to direct the eyes and the soul of the viewer to feel the power of that which I am highlighting or calling attention to.

For example...in my Snowy Owl painting of 1984...I put incredible intense detailing and time in the Owl and the Hungarian partridge within its talons. The painting has roughly 300 hours of time in its making...but, when I encouraged others to really focus on the background objects and such they were able to see the flat and near abstract nature of such.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/17-Sep-2004/532-snowowl_painting.jpg

Funny...but the painting worked as I intended, which was to grab the viewer's eye and manipulate them to again and again look at the owl and partridge. There is perhaps 60% of the larger area of the painting made intentionally less interesting that is downplayed and largely ignored, by design and as a device. Yet when folks walk away from that painting they utter in amazement how realistic...how real the painting is.

a closeup-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/17-Sep-2004/532-closeup1_72dpi.jpg

Now...why is that? Is it honestly realistic? No. The birds are. I have so convinced the mind's eye of the viewer to not bother to spend time investigating the rest of the painting that it does not ever register how simplistic and near abstract it is.

Now...I argue and insist that it is equally possible for the viewer to walk away from a painting believing the color was amazing, powerful and so forth and yet...using that same device as the snowy owl...I may have used neutrals, grayed down color throughout the majority of the painting, yet opted as a strategy to use pure color in a limited manner on the object I intended them to chew on. In the same way the viewer walks away thinking the entire snowy owl painting was incredibly realistic and detailed, they walk away thinking the limited use of color painting was incredibly powerful in color.


There is also the added fact of the sheer volume of information that is taken in when viewing a scene. Every one of us knows you have to eliminate certain amounts of that information to make a painting work. You can't possibly put it all in, so at the very beginning you are interpreting what you see. This goes to what Larry was talking about, ie: interpretation and reserve.

Absolutely. Paintings are taken in as a cohesive whole, and many variants can be manipulated and used to make a convincing whole. Color is one of those things. When one design/compositional component is given pre-eminant agenda, (which is fine as an exploratory learning exercise to exploit possibilities) it comes necessarily sacrificing other components.

An artist responds to various stimulus...and the different paintings and responses is what the public finds interesting. Seeing the world thru the artist's eyes. This is why for one it is ridiculous to suggest one way of seeing, or one way is more accurate or whatever.

but...the artist if open will discover their soul responding to what nature reveals in various capacities. You might respond one afternoon painting to verticals vs horizontals, another to darks versus lights, another the warm colors against the cools...and so forth.

If you come with a bent to one purpose...you of course cut yourself off to see and respond to the multifaceted complications of nature's personality.


So as FriendCarol has said, its the mind, the whole human that is making and seeing the painting. And each one of us (including bigflea and Larry) comes to the easel with a preconcieved set of rules/ideas/personality/experience that we use when painting.

ABSOLUTELY!!!!! That...I am thankful for. That God made me unique, and that there yet is a place for my voice. I celebrate not having to be like someone else. Only Larry can best be Larry...and I do Larry and the world little favor seeking to be like someone else.

There are times we get in a rut..and circumstances of life can obligate or make convenient a time if any other, to break out of a mold to see what one can see. In so doing...you may well see for the first time what a straight jacket you had put on yourself.

As finite beings, it is not possible to know what we do not know. After knowing, we humbly see our deficit, come to embrace our strenghts...and it makes walking ahead both joyful and yet tenuous in one's boastings and insistences.

well said AFM.....

Larry

Marc Sabatella
09-17-2004, 10:31 PM
Well Marc it is apparent that you agree with the system he promotes, including the idea that the change in the key is insignificant or non existent.


I don't necessary agree with any particular system. I do admire his goals, which are to make the colors and shapes in your painting appear as exactly as possible like the colors and shapes in the scene itself. And it seems plainly apparent that the methods he suggests are as good as any a method of reaching that goal.

Personally, in my own painting, I am *not* always interested in matching what I see exactly, in shape or especially in color. I take some rather deliberate liberties with both. Shape, for reaosns of composition/design. Color, for reasons of harmony. Also because I am trying to account for the fact that a painting is always going to differ from the actual scene in some pretty marked ways - in particular, it's a lot smaller, and no parts of it give off light. I'm making choices designed to try to overcome these limitations. Right not it's pretyt ad hoc, so there are no "predetermined" choices made for these reasons. But if I had a system for reaching my goals as well thought as Hensche's system is for reaching his or Schmid's is for reaching his, I'd be OK with having some things predetermined - if that's what the system required to best reach my goals.


Using that approach does help explain why paintings done in that system or conception repeat the same color ideas over again and again no matter what the key is, and why those who subscribe to it do not depart from the traditional colors for objects that are acceptable to the widest audience.


Well, the reality is such that colors *don't* change as much in different light conditions ("key" is a term that has specific meanings in your system, but I prefer to stick to terms with more general meanings) as Hensche's system would suggest. But it is true they change more than some people's paintings. Which brings us back full circle - I'm still surprised to see Schmid put in the same category as Christiansen or Aspevig, because to my eyes, his paintings are much less "generic" in light quality.


You are telling me that what I see does not exist and it does not exist for me, in your logic, because you do not see it. You do not see the change in the harmonic relationship that i am referring to, and therefore no one should or could. You have the perfect system, or rs does.


That's not what i am saying. Your system may well work fine for you. But it clearly does not produce results that match what I or most people see as well as Schmid's system does. You've posted examples, and they show the same attributes.


Re the cards, I am not interested at all in how the colors on my board relate to the pre mixed colors of the cards. It is irrelevant. I might be interested in how the pre mixed colors look in the light key of the composition. Stick the cards out there in the same light of the composition, then make your adjustments.


Again, you are COMPLETELY misrepresenting the purpose of the cards. If you understood the purpose, you'd realize how foolish it would be to stick them in the same light as the scene. That would completely defeat the purpose of the cards. You'd end up correctly identifying the local color of the object, which as you yourself have stated is not especially useful if your goal is to represent something of the appearance of the object under the actual light conditions.

I still can't figure out if you're still deliberately pretending not to get it in order to make some sort of argument, or if you truly just don't understand. Either way, your statements regarding the cards are nonsense to anyhow who understands their purpose.


Also you are wrong about not comparing my painting to the key. After I have my color development moving in the direction I believe it must go, I almost always turn the thing into the same light of the composition and see how it looks. I want to know. I am not looking for one to one color matching, simply want to see how the harmonic arrangement i believe is there in the composition compares directly to the one that is forming on the board.


So, if the light is heavily orange, and you are painting a white building that now looks quite orange because of the light, you will simply painting the building white, because then when you put it in the same orange light as the building, it looks orange too, because both are being affected by the same orange light? Take it back inside, view it under white light, and suddenly all sense of the orange light you were allegedly painting is gone.

Or, if you are painting a tree that is barely visible in the fog, you will just go ahead and paint a nice solid dark tree, because when you put your painting in the fog, it will look just like the tree, because *both* are being affected by the same fog? Take it back inside, view it under white light, and suddenylu all sense of the fog you were allegedly painting is gone.

I'm not saying there can be no value in checking to see how your painting looks when viewed in the same light as the subject, but surely you recognize that doing this literally in all case yields *completely* wrong results - you end up with a painting that *removes* all sense of the original light conditions you were attempting to depict.


So you have a system that you think works, and all I am telling you is it does not apply to what I do for the reasons given. You do not have to believe me


Oh, I believe the way I paint, or the way Schmid paints, won't work for the way you paint. No one claimed otherwise. But Schmid's methods work far better than yours or mine for reaching *his* goals, which are to reproduce the colors he - and the rest of the world - sees.


It would not matter how many charts or color cards or what have you premixed, the point I want to make to myself is to discover a new combination of colors if such a thing is possible. I believe that it is.


And often it is. Like I said, I'm not fan of color charts either. But I don't pretend they don't work, or that Schmid's use of them has any resemblence to a decorator's.


I am far more interested in not knowing before the actual painting time what mixtures to use


Again, you demonstrate you just don't get it. Schmid's color charts don't tell you what mixtures to use before painting. They describe all *possible* mixtures given your palette. They only work to select a specific mixture after you have started painting, because only then can you match the color you are seeing to one of the squares on the chart. Again, this should be obvious. Either stop pretending you don't understand, or just give up this aspect of the discussion, because you just aren't getting making sense.


When the sun goes behind the clouds, I stop trying to make the colors of that key. Everything, especially the small transitional notes, change. Nothing in the popular RS approach is similar to the one which I try to follow, with the exception of both using oil paint. You can scream at me that things do not change, but i can see they do.


Of course they do, but if you have eyes that use the same cones & rods as the rest of ours, you can see the colors in shadows don't change as much compared to the lights. And even if you were blind, you should still be able to accept that the drawing elements don't change. So if you're going to work on anything during those times, it still makes sense to choose those. it's common sense, regardless of approach. Even if you think you will have to modify the color later. you can choose not to, but again, common sense says that if you are going to do anything but waste the time, those are the things to work on.

bigflea
09-18-2004, 11:43 AM
Sorry again Marc, to be persistently disagreeing with your point of view, but in spite of your claim to define "reality" as it is for everyone, coloring in shade planes changes as much as the light planes when the sun goes behind the clouds. It changes in shape and in the large generalization of color that composes a mass, as well as in the small notes of transition between direct and indirect light planes, since the reflective character of the key has been changed entirely by the change in the key. A very perceptive painter could indicate these changes that are not visible to you, or to RS, and apparently not visible to the large mass of painters that must agree with you about what " reality " is in color terms. The fact that popular opinion, and your own logic, demand that coloring not change so much, does not make it so. These changes in color are realities that you choose, or select, to dismiss, for your own reasons, or else because you simply do not choose to look at the coloring that is present but not obviously so. It is there whether you recognize it or not, and it is these not very obvious changes to the presumed local coloring of things that become the subject of study for some painters working in the way HH taught them.

As stated earlier, I do not automatically assume someone claiming to be following that approach is actually carrying it far enough to paint convincing color of a light key. Often such work looks as if the painter did not do the restatements of the color modeling, either because they do not know how, or because they are fond of bright saturated colors in every painting. Yet there are less known painters using the approach with convincing color results than you seem to be aware of, but from your comments I doubt you would be convinced of anything that does not already fit in with your conceptions of reality. In my opinion, anyone who has seen a large body of HH's work and still thinks his ideas are wrong because the colors are not "reality" will never be convinced of anything beyond what they already hold to be true. But then I also do not think RS has ever painted any convincing color notes, that is, not colors of a light key, other than a traditional color scheme for a daylight effect. Ofcourse I may feel differently if I ever see his actual paintings rather than the video and reproductions that I have seen. Just based on what I have seen, his is a very narrow or limited conceptual vision, a predictable vision, that agrees with the widest possible audience and the beliefs about color that you define here. So it is a huge divide, imo, as to how coloring is seen in nature. I can understand how painters like RS can come to their conclusions, since it is the traditional way of assessing colors and color harmonies. If I go to an OIL PAINTERS OF AMERICA SHOW, as I did several months ago, I can understand how each painter is conceiving of the color. It is obvious in every case. That is what you advocate, based on your comments. Yet at that show, which overall I would describe as dreary coloring, I honestly saw only one painting by a relatively unknown painter that looked very much like a daylight key. I enjoyed some of the paintings, including one by Kevin McPhearson, but overall found the color solutions to be traditional schemes, and disappointing, by comparison to what I would see in the situation being presented to the eye. In other words, unconvincing color relationships, if one is trying to show daylight. I realize that to you, and to the great majority of painters, these would probably be very convincing and agree with the way you define "reality" in color.

I have not misunderstood the way the cards are designed for use, since RS suggested they be used as you do. I am only saying it is not the way I would use them. There is not point to it, since it is not specifically related to the key that is being observed, but only to pigments on the palette, and how they mix. That to me is fallacy in the logic. I would be far more interested in seeing how any group of mixtures look in the light key, than how the mixtures on the painting look next to the pre mixed recipes on the cards. I would also want to know how the painting looks inside in the diminished indirect light of room, and how it may look under artificial light. I want to consider all of these different viewing situations before concluding that what I have on the board is worked out as best as it could be. Turning the painting into the light of the key ought to tell the painter if the harmonic arrangement, by comparison to the motif, has any of the richness of the coloring in the key, as well as any of the subtle earthiness of colors. It can also show that the painting is far too diminished in color contrast, or far too colored, to depict the key and it's harmonic range. Obviously it is not the same thing as the motif, but is an interpretation on a small scale, by comparison, seen at close range, except in the case of life size still life. Your comments pointing to my ignorance overlook the fact that the painting is not developed in the full light of the key. These kinds of comments point to your own level of experience, I feel, rather than to my own lack of understanding.

Specifically in observation of RS's technique, I honestly do not recall him demonstrating how to make shapes of color. He makes arbitrary marks of color that seem to suit his whims of the moment, but not specific shapes of color that describe specific changes in the way a form is turning in relation to the light source. This arbitrariness is very evident in his landscape demo. So here again is a case of a huge divide as to what a color shape represents. I am not saying he is wrong to do so, only that it is not going to lead a painter to see the harmonic color changes that I am referring to, since these have a specific shape that does change as the sun goes in and out.

If someone chooses to paint that way, without reference to the specific shape of a color, it may only confirm the general concepts they have in regard to coloring, rather than to new insights about color in their perception.

Mainly though, I feel you comments suggest that there is only one conception of reality and coloring that is possible in nature, and that any departure from that has to be so slight that it does not challenge the preconceived views that are held by the majority of painters and viewing public. I would not advocate or promote that approach to anyone, and hope for painters to make new perceptual discoveries if that is possible. For that reason I suggest the approach to color that I learned, for those who want to explore it.
k

FriendCarol
09-18-2004, 02:09 PM
Someone asked me if I could describe the 'color scheme' I use to paint, though I've already said I don't know any name for it -- but I certainly would NOT describe it as "free-spirited poetic!" I've been thinking it over for a couple days, and I'm going to try to use other words to describe what I said before.

A little context: Most of my formal academic training was in one of the social sciences -- one that was not well-defined, which gave me plenty of latitude to study all of them, plus philosophy, mathematics (particularly statistics, etc.), history, linguistics, etc. :)

So when I say my method of arriving at a palette for a painting is like solving a multiple equation model, and my 'goodness of fit' criteria (i.e., is this [set of colors] a good solution to the palette problem?) is the minimal number of colors, that's the experirence I'm drawing on.

If I can come up with a 2-color palette that I believe will capture whatever it is that attracted me to this image/painting, I'm happy. (Actually, I think I did this once with a winter snow scene WDE: palette was W/N cobalt blue deep and gold ochre.) If I need 3-5 colors, that's fine. If I start out assuming I'll be using a particular color and end up with 7-8, I might decide to start all over again, with a different starting-point color, to try to accomplish my goal for this image with fewer colors.

Why? Why do I think few colors indicates a successful palette solution? It has to do with what I've learned about theory construction, and the importance of 'elegance' in mathematics. Elegant solutions have fewer 'moving parts,' and apply to a larger scope of problems, than inelegant solutions. Scientists prefer elegant solutions -- in fact, elegance is formally a method of choosing between solutions!

But isn't it weird for me to approach art as a mathematician/scientist? Maybe, in the context of 21st century Western art, it seems strange, but I think the current dichotomy between artist/scientist is a superficial (and false) division. (Think of Leonardo da Vinci, for example -- artist or scientist? Thomas Jefferson -- politician, philosopher, or architect?)

An artist friend of mine (before I took up painting "seriously") said once she was amazed and delighted to discover there was 'real content' to the field of art. I couldn't get her to articulate any of that then, but now I've tapped into it for myself (first in the work of Tony Couch, drawing from Edgar Whitney; and recently in the work of Charles Bouleau in the field of composition).

Thus, my working hypothesis is that a good palette is a simple palette that yet gets across the point I'm trying to make. The best palette is the simplest (smallest) set of colors that yields "harmonious" colors -- with the value range and other characteristics (graininess, tranlucence, etc. -- I'm a watercolorist, after all) capable of expressing whatever I'm trying to say. :)

Btw, my working hypothesis may be completely wrong. The dominant argument in this thread is based on a totally opposed hypothesis, after all. But, like a good little scientist, I'll continue to test my hypothesis by evaluating my results, and only reject the hypothesis if (when?) empirical data (i.e., the appeal or success of my paintings) suggest it's incorrect. ;)

Marc Sabatella
09-18-2004, 10:13 PM
Sorry again Marc, to be persistently disagreeing with your point of view, but in spite of your claim to define "reality" as it is for everyone, coloring in shade planes changes as much as the light planes when the sun goes behind the clouds.


It is easy to verify this is false. Try taking a picture of a scene out your window when the sun is out but your yard is in shade. Then take another when the sun goes behind a cloud. Tell me if you see a difference. There might well be a tiny, almost imperceptible difference, but a child could see that this difference is not as extreme as if you performed the same experiment looking out a window at a sunlit portion of your yard, and comapred what happened when the sun went behind a cloud.


It changes in shape


Again, the shape *of* the shadow plane changes, but not the shapes within it. It would be absolutely physically impossible for those shapes to change in the slightest way. but if you doubt this, the same experiment as above will prove it beyond a shadow (sorry) of a doubt.


The fact that popular opinion, and your own logic, demand that coloring not change so much, does not make it so.


True enough. It is physics that demands this, not popular opinion. And when physics demands something, you can be sure the world obeys. I'm not sure what sort of scientific background you have, but I can assure you, this is so obviosuly true that anyone with any college level physics at all should be able to verify it easily.


In my opinion, anyone who has seen a large body of HH's work and still thinks his ideas are wrong because the colors are not "reality" will never be convinced of anything beyond what they already hold to be true.


I have not seen a large body of his work, so I cannot base any opinion on that.

What I can offer is this quite simple fact:

If HH's ideas of painting within a light key are designed to produce the goal of reproduce reality, as measured by what the human eye sees under normal circumstances, then understanding those ideas is clearly not necessary. Simply painting what you see produces that same goal more directly.

If, on the other hand, you are claiming that employing HH's methods, using your understanding of light keys, produces *different* results than simply painting what you see, then any such difference represents a departure from reality.

It's time to make stand. Are you claiming these methods produce the exact same results as simply painting what you see, or are you claiming they represent a departure from reality?

Either claim I can accept. But so far, you've been trying to have it both ways, and that stops now.

BTW, I think I know the answer, but I doubt you'll like it. From what I've read of HH's method, a key (sorry again) component has to do with gauging color while looking out of the corner of your eye, constantly shifting your focus around the scene. Is this accurate?

If so, I can tell you what that method is - it is a method of inducing chromatic aberrations into your color perception. The motion and use of the cones on the periphery is likely to be tricking the cones into responding to light that comes from different portion of the scene than you are actually "seeing" it as.

If I'm wrong - that HH didn't actually advocate moving your eye around in gauging color, then this obviously doesn't apply. But my basic observation above still does. Either it's just a crutch to help you understand what you could have painted *without* any such understanding (like linear perspective, for instance), or it is a device that actively encourages your painting to depart from reality.

Now, the analogy to linear perspective is worth pursuing. A painter who is ignorant of it can still paint perfectly accurate paintings by simply painting what he sees. However, it is admittedly less likely - there are common mistakes one tends to make if one does not use linear perspective more overtly.

Of course, these mistakes are obvious to anyone who sees the painting as well. We don't need to pretend there are alternate planes of reality in order to see why the painting departs from reality - it departs from the same same reality that everyone experiences, and it departs in ways that everyone can see in the same way.


I have not misunderstood the way the cards are designed for use, since RS suggested they be used as you do. I am only saying it is not the way I would use them.


That's not what you said at all. You said that using them his way wouldn't work for the intended purpose -t hat the only way to make them work was to do it your way. you also kep bringing up the notion of a decorator's color scheme, which obviously has nothing to do with anything.


I would be far more interested in seeing how any group of mixtures look in the light key, than how the mixtures on the painting look next to the pre mixed recipes on the cards. I would also want to know how the painting looks inside in the diminished indirect light of room, and how it may look under artificial light. I want to consider all of these different viewing situations before concluding that what I have on the board is worked out as best as it could be.


Those are all indeed interesting and useful things to do, but have nothing to do with the purpose of the cards. Sionce nothing you've stated indicates you actually have any understanding of this purpose, I have to ask you point blank: if you do in fact understand it, you should be explain it and why it works for the intended purpose, which it most obviously does. Can you do this?


Specifically in observation of RS's technique, I honestly do not recall him demonstrating how to make shapes of color. He makes arbitrary marks of color that seem to suit his whims of the moment, but not specific shapes of color that describe specific changes in the way a form is turning in relation to the light source.


That's because, again, this should be irrelevant. He paints what he sees, and that should be good enough. Either the HH methods produce the exact same reuslts as simply painting what you see, or they don't. You can't have it both ways.


Mainly though, I feel you comments suggest that there is only one conception of reality and coloring that is possible in nature


I don't know what you mean by this. Many colors are possible, but only one set is in effect at a given time. This can be measured quite objectively.

bigflea
09-19-2004, 03:27 PM
So according to your logic Marc, a child painting what they see, is an objective painting of reality? In other words, there is no learning, and no unlearning, and no new perceptual insights that are possible, since a child has the same vision that you do? Sorry, but disagree. You see what you see because you see it. That does not mean it is the only perception that is possible. Perhaps your concepts of what is "right" seeing are limiting what you are capable of seeing? That is my position on the topic.

I have said or implied the same thing re. the decorator card approach to study of a color harmony in a light key. That is, the pre conceived mixtures, representing every possible mixture from the existing palette (which seems extremely absurd), have no relationship to the light key, which is what I want to compare anything to. Give me all your cards, and all your pigments, and all your pre mixtures, taking a year or more to compile every possible combination of mixture you can think to combine, and I will do just what I said. I want to see how it compares to the light key, not the mixtures on the painting. After all, I am making the mixtures on the board by comparison to the key, and will do the same thing with anything that is available. It is irrelevant, in the approach I use, to try and adjust my new mixtures to some old mixtures from the day before, which is at best all the cards could represent. However they may not even represent anything, other than what you conceptualized as a harmonic arrangement you want to make.

Every painter I know personally who follows the approach I am perhaps poorly describing as the HH approach can tell you there are as many different grey day or shaded light key color combinations as there are sunlit or partially sunny ones. Each one has its own unique combination of colors, and especially changes of color and distinct shape changes in each mass of light and shade. To mix one with another only makes each one less true. Your conception of how to objectify this opinion of yours is irrelevant to the existence of these changes, and only further clarifies that you have no idea what these changes are. That is ok for you, and you certainly should continue to ignore whatever does not suit your goals, but all of your effort to deny the perception of these colors for other, perhaps for more experienced and visually aware, painters is really not your domain. You can say such coloring changes and harmonic relationships do not exist, and do not exist because in your logic it is impossible, but nevertheless, they do exist, and to a far greater degree than you will probably ever recognize. Shape changes are as important to the recognition of the color relationships as are the colors themselves, and without that recognition the key itself is not being stated as more than a generalized light effect.


From the comments you make it sounds to me like you disagree with some of the research into how the eye sees color, and that you do not understand the physics of seeing. Science, as far as I know, does not have a full understanding either, and there is alot of debate over several different theories on color perception. It seems to me you disagree with a general consensus among scientific studies that the eye recognizes color differences by the context of coloring, rather than by the way you suggest. This concensus is to a great deal confirmed by my visual experience and that of other painters working in the method I follow. It is not science, and I am not a scientist, but I do recognize color differences mainly by the context of the color relationships of the whole grouping. Therefore if any one part of the whole grouping changes, the whole harmonic grouping is changed. That is what I see, whether or not you see it.

It's sounds to me like a contradiction on your part to say that only one set of colors, or one group of colors is possible, at all times. Yet if the lighting itself changes, according to your opinions, only part of that grouping of colors changes, which is the RS opinion. According to you and RS, more than one grouping of colors is possible at the same time, and they do not relate to each other in the way that has been described by science as in a particular context to one another. Your opinion seems to be saying that colors are fixed, no matter how the key has shifted, because you do not see any change. Because you do not see it, it is therefore scientifically objective.

In other words, your arguments to me, do not make sense. More importantly, they do not hold up to my own experience.

According to NASA research, color is best seen or recognized in the periphery of vision. Many artists, even non HH painters, realize the benefit of peripheral glancing as a way to visual recognition of colors, especially those difficult to see color distinctions present in the landscape. Staring and focally direct vision produces another effect that tends to neutralize color distinctions. You can reject these approaches if it suits you, but that does not make the color differences seen by painters using these approaches an " unreality " as you suggest.
k

LarrySeiler
09-20-2004, 11:46 AM
According to NASA research, color is best seen or recognized in the periphery of vision. Many artists, even non HH painters, realize the benefit of peripheral glancing as a way to visual recognition of colors, especially those difficult to see color distinctions present in the landscape. Staring and focally direct vision produces another effect that tends to neutralize color distinctions. You can reject these approaches if it suits you, but that does not make the color differences seen by painters using these approaches an " unreality " as you suggest.
k

I'll agree with this Bigflea...
there should be no discounting of all ways the eye can and does physically see. I'm sure if most think back driving down a road near day's end looking out over the horizon and suddenly sensing pinks and greens in the sky as color, but then looking up directly at the sky note those colors in fact are not there.

Or...were they? Does what we see peripherally qualify to be discounted, or to be used?

How they are used will be important to different artists for different reasons.

Painting plein air, I tend to judge a mass looking directly, looking thru squinted eyes...but sensing color know also to look peripherally. But...m peripheral does not cancel out what is seen looking directly...as, to enter into the experiences of my patrons...most also look peripherally (without knowledge) and directly. Thus I use a balance of what all forms have to offer and bring to the table as devices.

When a color is hard to discern in shadows...I'll look off to an adjacent mass that is lit up. Wanting to get a sense of all the color in an area lit up...I'll study the shadows and sense the lit areas peripherally. It is a technique I often teach.

I'll judge the sky from the ground, the ground from the sky. Doing so, we often find links that connect the masses in color note.

Not any experience that is genuine should be discounted, but it is up to the artist to give voice to that device that will receive priority. I seek a balance, some might find the peripheral so interesting to make that the object of their work.

Seeing peripherally is no more THEE only and right way to see, as looking and seeing directly, and thus how one thinks about color is simply ONE way of working which might be the right way for what one is seeking to do.

Larry

Marc Sabatella
09-20-2004, 05:37 PM
So according to your logic Marc, a child painting what they see, is an objective painting of reality? In other words, there is no learning, and no unlearning, and no new perceptual insights that are possible, since a child has the same vision that you do?


If the child paints what he sees *accurately*, then yes. Of course, most don't. They make easily recognizable errors in judgement, especially regarding perspective and value. These errors are easily recognized by anyone else without special training. The types of departure from reality made by otherwise skilled folks - like Schmid - not using HH's methods do not depart from reality in any measurably or even detectably greater extent than the types of departures from reality made by HH or folks using his methods. They are just different. Although *most people* perceived the Schmi-type departures from reality to be far more convincing than those from the Hensche school. That's still worth something.


You see what you see because you see it. That does not mean it is the only perception that is possible.


True enough - we can trick our eyes into seeing lots of things that do not reflect reality. But reality is reality. And here's something I *know* about it, perception be damned. When a cloud temporarily obscures the sun, the shape of buildings, mountains, trees, and other stationary objects remains the same. You can fool yourself into belieivng otherwise by creating optical illusions in your visual cortext all you want. You are not changing this basic fact.

Give me all your cards, and all your pigments, and all your pre mixtures, taking a year or more to compile every possible combination of mixture you can think to combine, and I will do just what I said. I want to see how it compares to the light key, not the mixtures on the painting.


Oh, I beleive that this is what *you* would do; I am not challenging that. I am simply challenging your claim that the way Schmid does is it doesn't work for its intended purpose, when it quite clearly does.


Your conception of how to objectify this opinion of yours is irrelevant to the existence of these changes, and only further clarifies that you have no idea what these changes are.


If it's objectively verifiable - which I assure you it is - then it *is* objective. You can make yourself see things however you like, but you aren't going to change the spectrum of the light actually reflected off an object.


From the comments you make it sounds to me like you disagree with some of the research into how the eye sees color, and that you do not understand the physics of seeing.


On the contrary, it is *because* of my understanding of these topics that I say the things I say. I know the eye can be fooled in many ways, which is why when I want to talk about reality, I talk about measuring the actual light reflected from objects, not depending on how something looks to you if you stand just the right way. The latter is fine for finding clever and sometimes even convincing ways of *departing* from reality, but let's call a spade a spade.


I do recognize color differences mainly by the context of the color relationships of the whole grouping. Therefore if any one part of the whole grouping changes, the whole harmonic grouping is changed. That is what I see, whether or not you see it.


Oh, clearly, this is what your trick you eye into perceiving. It isn't reality, though.


It's sounds to me like a contradiction on your part to say that only one set of colors, or one group of colors is possible, at all times.


Again, I don't know what you mean by this. Lots of things are "possible". Only one such set of colors *actually exists* at one time.


Yet if the lighting itself changes, according to your opinions, only part of that grouping of colors changes, which is the RS opinion.


Again, not opinion, but verifiable fact, regardless of what your eyes can be tricked into perceiving.

Actually, one should be careful to note that I *am* acknowledging that all colors may change *a little*. Objects not receiving direct illumination from the sun may still receiving indirect illumination from sunlit objects that reflect onto them. So when the sunlight changes, there is no question that it is possible for objects not in the sub to change. But it is also verifably true that this change is practically infinitessimal compared to the change in the sunlit areas.

Now, there only place opinion comes into play is in deciding just how important these changes are. It is also verifiably true that neither you nor I nor Schmid nor Hensche has every painted a tree (or anything) with 100% accuracy in all respects. Every time we simply a mass of foliage versus painting every leaf, we are performing a rather specific departure from reality. Indeed, every time we put a bursh stroke on canvas, we are making an abstraction; we are creating a shape of a given color that most assuredly *does not exist* in reality. At best, we are saying that in our opinion, the abstraction we are creating is indicative of reality to us in some way. That is indeed subjective as hell. One person's extremely realistic rendering might fall short to another simply because they didn't as many leaves on the tree as were actually there.

Now, if all you were claiming is that Schmid's painting fail to represent reality for this reason, I'd be unimpressed. Like I said, no painting every created by human hands has every been 100% realistic in this way. And if all you were saying is you preferred the type of departure from reality that HH makes versus the type Schmid makes, that's all well and good as well.

It's when you keep acting as if there were some objective truth to what HH is doing or advocating, and measured by that yardstick, Schmid comes up short - that's when I feel the need to butt in and say, "poppycock".


According to NASA research, color is best seen or recognized in the periphery of vision.


This does not invalidate my observation. It is clearly not the case that *all* colors seen in peripheral vision will *always* be perceived more accurately than colors toward the center of the field of view. And it is just as true that this shift in focus *does* induce chromatic aberration. It's an easily demonstrated phenomenon, one you've probably experienced many times. The old trick where you stare at a brightly color object then shift your gaze to a blank wall and magically "see" a complementary afterimage of the original object.


Staring and focally direct vision produces another effect that tends to neutralize color distinctions.


Indeed, and it also causes your pupils to continually readjust and throw off your values. These are all known quantities. Reality exists, but pining it down is a tricky business. Which is why I know all these claims of some particualr method absolutely producing better results than another is so just much malarkey.

bigflea
09-21-2004, 12:51 AM
In referring to HH's painting, or mine, or anyone's, I generally employ the noun "interpretation", and avoid the phrase " objective reality", which is your phrasing Marc, for anything that does not fit what you attempt to circumscribe as the "objective reality". I use that noun because, personally, I do not see the need to set up a fixed " reality" in order to understand painting and to further the practice of painting. Fundamentally, beyond simple commercial illustration or information advertising, painting is about self expression, and visual expression. So you are the only one of us trying to make an objective reality argument. To me, all painting is interpretive, whether it is a child's or a HH. From your comments, only RS and you and those whom you agree with, are painting an objective "reality", while others out of that loop, painting things that do not objectively exist. However, reality is not determined by what your objective mind accepts, but is only limited in your perception,by what your objective conscious mind accepts. So, as far as I consider it, all painting, even RS, and the scientific illustrator, are interpretive works, and the only distinctions about them that are real are the states of consciousness they represent. These change. That is human growth and human visual growth. That is the point of the analogy between a child's vision and an adult's, not that one is more objective than another, but that they are both subjective interpretations of a human's experience. It follows that there is not necessarily any final limit to that visual growth in the interpretation of color harmonies, except those that are implied by the conceptual limitations the individual imposes on reality.

As stated earlier, I do not consider the video comments by RS to be his final words, or his intended meaning, to the ideas they touch on. I only consider statements like the ones commented on as being irresponsibly misleading at best, and possible fallacies of perception at worst. I have not stated that the actual form of an object changes as the light changes. I have stated that the harmonic arrangement and the shape of the color notes composing it change, in both light and shade planes, as the key is altered. The change in harmonic color notes is the subject of debate here for me, not the linear contours of objects that we normally perceive of as solids. That is a whole other discussion. So it sounds to me like you are talking about the literalness of an object, when earlier I stated that I was not referring to the literal details, like the contour of tree trunk, but the color harmonies of the massing of light and shade and the variations of color in these passages of light and shade that compose them.

I have consistently suggested that when a painter finds they are not getting the color qualities they feel are possible in their work, that the HH method is a reliable one to improve theirown perceptual differentiation of colors. That is not a statement about the value of work done by other painters not familiar with that approach, but a statement affirming that the method of color modeling of form in a light key leads to more variety in color perception than traditional approaches to color based on the local color conception of light. It does lead to more variety of color in perception, because it begins with more variety of color in description of form in light and shade.

Ofcourse there are more obvious colors, such as the red of stop sign, that are easily recognized without having to peripherally scan to discern them. However this is not the substance of the color key approach. It is to visually understand how the obvious color has been altered by the color key. Ofcourse the local color, such as the red of stop sign, is a part of the harmonic problem being studied. It is especially more pronounced than would be the stop sign if it were painted as a tan or a dull neutral local color. So the idea of the color modeling approach, and the interest in the peripheral recognition of it, has to do with what is not so obvious, and what is not so pragmatic, as the local color of the stop sign is pragmatic.

There is a wide spread interest, it seems to me, in the study of getting a pronounced light effect in landscape painting. However it seems also that this is pursued mainly by a reliance on value contrasts, while color itself is still limited by the conception of the local color as THE color of the form, no matter how the light key may have altered it. That is a subjective choice, an interpretation, that is often promoted as an objective truth, simply because it is not considered to have any alternative. Most painters have had time and study to appreciate the vision of the classical painters, and their methods, but that does not mean their vision is the end of the process of visual development and growth, only that it is level of perception that most painters will understand easily as an adult.

Although I follow the peripheral glancing, and sometimes the half opened eye, approach to coloring, especially for what is difficult to see as anything other than neutral or an obvious local color, I know that is not always the final determiner of what is needed in a painting. An approach that draws upon a scheme to solve a problem may be what is needed in some situations, especially if alot of time is invested in a work but there are still unresolved color problems that must be resolved in order not to lose the work. So I think there is a place for conceptualizing and an understanding of schemes and themes of color. In that sense, whatever one can learn by following the suggestions of RS or anyone who has some knowledge to pass on that is of any substance, or a source of enjoyment, is worthwhile. Also feel it is important that those things that are not popular, that are not a part of the mainstream of content in visual study and development, not be taken for granted and disregarded by those who do not understand them or demonstrate an understanding of them. I feel the individual interested in learning has a right to knowledge, even that which is considered out of the mainstream of study.


Re. your comments Larry in considering how the viewer or buyer sees your work, that makes sense to me. Paintings can be developed from differing motives and goals or intentions, not only a specific ideal or visual ideal. It is simply a fact of living that somehow the painter has to find a market, or a way to connect to buyers and an audience, unless they have independent wealth. It is easy to overlook that fact of life when in the midst of discussion of ideals of expression, which is often the place these discussion can go.
k

Richard Saylor
09-21-2004, 09:06 AM
bigflea, your latest post seems to be a bit more conciliatory that some earlier ones, which is a good thing. You probably don't realize this, but what tends to bug people is not the color key approach itself but the air of superiority and exclusiveness which, whether intentional or not, pervades some of your posts. If you would like to encourage more people to have an open minded attitude toward your approach to color, I would suggest even more conciliation/diplomacy. For example, suggesting right away that RS is little more than a good illustrator is not exactly the best way to win friends and influence people. It would be far better to start by stating a few things which you like about RS's paintings, and then ease into how you think they might (subjunctive tense, allowing for the possible validity of differing views) be improved.

killerkatt
09-21-2004, 11:44 AM
Science is limited by perception; it can only attempt to discribe our world by its own interpretations. Art is no different. We interpret our reality by groping and discovering what we can. There is theory of color, or the way it ideally behaves in nature, and then there is paint and pigment in the studio. It would be foolish I think to contend that colored objects or paints can truthfully recreate what is seen by the eye in nature. Just the same as a painting of a flower cannot ever be a real flower, so our color choices will never present "true" color. All our color choices can do is to display our perceptions and discoveries. Art at its most representational can only serve as a translation, no matter how well we understand (or think we understand) the physics of light and color. No matter how hard we may strive to imitate it, we are limited, not just by perception, but by reality. Our colors are not in harmony with nature, but rather act against it.

Einion
09-21-2004, 01:14 PM
It is a system for getting to people to paint colors that are *other* than the ones most people actually see, and people who subscribe to this system often become irrationally convinced that this particular fiction is more real than reality.
This for me distils down the basics of the issue. I didn't go looking for it but I saw a copy of Susan Sarback's Capturing Radiant Color In Oils in London on Friday. And I have to say I can't do better than my comments in this thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=117647) but at least in the book the author makes some reference to the colour as being an impression/expression of the artist's response to the scene.

That it bears no resemblance to the true colours of a subject, does absolutely nothing to inform the viewer of the colour of the light in the original scene in most cases and additionally sometimes makes form and structure difficult to discern (as many colourist approaches do, since value is more dominant and important in human vision and this downplays it) just confirms for me the excessively subjective nature of the approach. There's nothing wrong with this per se - it's not for me but then neither are some much less exaggerated uses of colour - but what is clearly a mistake is any insistence that this sort of use of colour is accurate, true to life or superior to the 'normal' range of colour reproduction in the work of other painters who paint in the open air, which is what really gets under the skin of others too apparently... and any wonder! :D

Einion

Marc Sabatella
09-21-2004, 01:41 PM
This for me distils down the basics of the issue. I didn't go looking for it but I saw a copy of Susan Sarback's Capturing Radiant Color In Oils in London on Friday. And I have to say I can't do better than my comments in this thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=117647) but at least in the book the author makes some reference to the colour as being an impression/expression of the artist's response to the scene.

That it bears no resemblance to the true colours of a subject, does absolutely nothing to inform the viewer of the colour of the light in the original scene in most cases and additionally sometimes makes form and structure difficult to discern (as many colourist approaches do, since value is more dominant and important in human vision and this downplays it) just confirms for me the excessively subjective nature of the approach.


This was my first exposure to Hensche's ideas as well. But to be fair, I believe Sarbach is one of the artists bigflea refers to when he/she says that not all of HH's followers really get it, and that many of them produce work that indeed is very far removed from the actual intent. And I would agree that the examples of HH's own work I've seen reproductions of are much closer to reality than Sarbach's work. Still, examples of color that can only be described as imagined, exaggerated, or just plain aberrant persists even in the examples that have been posted of HH's work - just not in as cartoonish a manner as Sarbach's. It's actually a quite convincing fiction, I think - at least as much so as the work of the best plein air painters of today. But as I've said, and you are saying, not in any objective way more realistic than any other reasonably competent painter.

Still, the fact that HH's methods are so often used to produce cartoonish images is definitely a red flag to me. It suggests that there really is a huge subjective element going on that is very unreliable.

Marc Sabatella
09-21-2004, 02:42 PM
Good - some real agreement!

In referring to HH's painting, or mine, or anyone's, I generally employ the noun "interpretation", and avoid the phrase " objective reality", which is your phrasing Marc, for anything that does not fit what you attempt to circumscribe as the "objective reality". I use that noun because, personally, I do not see the need to set up a fixed " reality" in order to understand painting and to further the practice of painting.


Oh, I don't see the need to set up reality as the ultimate arbiter of aesthetic value, either. It's just that if we want to make any sort of claims about one approach being objectively superior to another in capturing realistic light effects, then "reality" is indeed the yardstick that seems most relevant. And it seemed to me this is what you were trying to do in your comments about Schmid's paintings not being particularly convincing compared to Hensche's. The tone of your comments was definitely that you believed your statement to be an objective statement about how realistic the painings were, rather than a subjective one about how much you liked them.

Personally, I am *not* all that interested in any objective comparisons to reality; I was just responding to that aspect of your such claims. As far as I am concerned, both Schmid and Hensche produce beuatiful and quite convincing paintings that bear their own distinctive style - which is to say, their own uniquely identifiable ways of deviating from reality. And I wouldn't have it any other way. If they didn't deviate from reality, their paintings would be without personality.

So no, I am not interested in perfect depictions of reality either, nor am I claiming that Schmid is achieving that. Although he sets reality up as his goal, he clearly falls short, as we all must - it is physically impossible to produce a painting that is a perfect representation of reality. But furthermore, although I said I admire Schmid for setting reality as his goal, the truth is, I do so only because I know, as he knows, that he is going to filter this reality through his own perceptions and preferences to produce a more personal painting.

And I can still draw a distinction between having that as one's goal, and my own stated goals, which really don't even shoot for reality in quite the same way that Schmid does. Whereas Schmid believes nature produces the ultimate color harmony and all we have to do is reproduce it (he says the same about composition), I am either naive or egotistical enough to imagine I might make some conscious decisions to improve on a literal rendering of nature for aesthetic effect. Although even so, I might still agree that nature was pretty damned good on her own - but a literal depiction of nature with pigment on an 11x14" canvas is such a sorry substitute for the real thing, that the deliberate changes I make aren't so much to improve on nature, but to attempt to bring back some of the glory of the experience that is lost in a more literal translation.


I have not stated that the actual form of an object changes as the light changes. I have stated that the harmonic arrangement and the shape of the color notes composing it change, in both light and shade planes, as the key is altered. The change in harmonic color notes is the subject of debate here for me, not the linear contours of objects that we normally perceive of as solids.


Well, I didn't see the video you are talking about. All I got from your summary is that someone asked Schmid what to paint when the goes disappears, and he suggested painting the things that don't change. Still seems like sound advice to me, especially if we take "don't change" to mean "don't change as much".


There is a wide spread interest, it seems to me, in the study of getting a pronounced light effect in landscape painting. However it seems also that this is pursued mainly by a reliance on value contrasts, while color itself is still limited by the conception of the local color as THE color of the form, no matter how the light key may have altered it. That is a subjective choice, an interpretation, that is often promoted as an objective truth, simply because it is not considered to have any alternative.


Not by me it isn't. Clearly, the color spectrum and intensity of the light plays a large role as well. But there is no denying that value *can* be used to get much of this type of effect, or B&W photos or monochromatic paintings would be completely ineffective. Like you said, how to best capture these effects is a subjective determination, given that *nothing* we can do will do so perfectly.

Einion
09-21-2004, 03:40 PM
...examples of color that can only be described as imagined, exaggerated, or just plain aberrant...
Hehe :D

Einion

bigflea
09-22-2004, 10:03 AM
Thanks Richard, good point. As far as RS's actual work is considered, as stated earlier, the comment is only my opinion from one perspective, based on reproductions and video, not actual paintings. As stated earlier, if I saw his work in a show I may have more appreciation of those things others feel are done well. Also, if the issue of a "convincing light key" is subtracted from the discussion, and focused on other aspects of painting, then I may have no comment at all, or only one that addresses what RS does that could help another painter learn.I have commented on what I see that is done well in the work of some of these well know successful painters, who are looked upon as examples to learn from, like RS. The substance of my comments about RS are only from the perspective of color harmonies and how these can become color schemes done from mental conceptions when an alternative is to learn a way to observe their seemingly endless variety in nature, through a difficult to attain visual perception. If these are generalized , and conceived of as color generalizations, it can be an obstacle in a painter's development.I am sure you are right about the value of how something, an opinion, is stated.

As has been pointed out by Marc and Einion, much of the way color is developed by those following HH's ideas is so far removed from the way the form is perceived by others that the work is not convincing . In many cases this could be my observation as well. In other words I do not feel and have not stated that work done following this approach is superior to other works not following that approach, in terms of the color quality or the conviction the color brings to the viewer. Often it is not as convincing to my eye, that is, not a harmony of color that I recognize from my own efforts to perceive them in nature. I have made the comment that the exaggerated quality of color in some of these works comes, imo, from the painter not going far enough with the restatements of color in the color modeling of the light and shade planes, and the forms in those planes. In other words, they are not following through on what the approach was about when taught by HH, and the results are overcolored generalizations about light keys, but not convincing color keys. That is, color schemes, but not a convincing light key, to my eye.

I have stated that I feel HH's method for the painter to learn is a reliable one for anyone who is interested in going further in their color development than they feel they are now. If someone is happy with their approach and results they then have no need for a change in their approach. I feel it is reliable because it is entirely based on your own color perception and development, and not on memorization of formulas or conceptual approaches for harmonies.

I think it is important to realize that if a painter is going to follow the HH idea their work is not going to look like the work of painters' who follow the traditional approaches to color observation. To some degree, it is not realistic to expect the same conclusions in color will be the result, and dismissing work because the color is not the same as the work of more traditional methods or approaches seems to me to overlook the possibility that there is new perceptual experiences available to anyone interested enough to consider them.

The book CAPTURING RADIENT COLOR has some worthwhile images in it. In particular, the work of Steve Perkins, is, to me, a good example of how far a painter can go with the idea of a convincing light key, without getting sidetracked into overcoloring for color sake, or traditional colors for the sake of acceptance by a larger audience. I do not feel the book clarifies the approach as well as it needs to be for others to do well with it. Also, as stated earlier, some of the ideas of luminosity seem to me to be based on using certain colors, rather than how the color harmonies are modeled for the particular key being described. That is, colors from the prismatic spectrum are given too much importance to the overall luminosity, when I feel HH's idea is based in the color modeling of the form and the plane relationships of the form to establish the luminosity of the key.

Scientific work needs objective measurement in order to make comparative conclusions, mainly to safeguard the health and safety of individuals, and to progress toward a specific material goal. Although painters want to see progress in their painting, beyond that I think it is a different situation than what confronts a scientist working in a clinical situation. It is a subjective, personal, perceptually interpretive undertaking, that does not need an objective criteria, other than how the painter feels about the state of their work, in order to have validity. Even when two painters follow the same process, they come to entirely different conclusions. In that sense, an objective criteria does not fully explain or clarify what the goal is when it is realized. Only the painter can . Others may be similarly moved, and also may begin to see reality from a perspective that had not been noted earlier. For that reason I have referred to the study of color keys as a learning process, and an unlearning of habits of visual perception. It is not an implication that previous experience or beliefs are invalid or inferior, only that there is always more to creation than can be objectified into one kind of experience. That some painters may actually have the non usual and non traditional experience of color harmonies ought to give all of us hope and faith in the endless discoveries that are possible in nature.
k

FriendCarol
09-22-2004, 02:11 PM
I've been a library reader (on watercolor) for many months now. Several authors of these books use quite traditional palettes, and their paintings are only "realistic" in the specific context of rather pastel-ish watercolor landscapes -- a convention has grown up for accepting, for example, a palette of pale burnt & raw siennas, burnt & raw umbers, cobalt & ultramarine blue, etc.

The painter I've studied most is Zoltan Szabo, and I much prefer his non-pastel 'color schemes' (if I may term them that!) to traditional watercolors, but again, the end result is not usually "realistic" color. But he specialized in landscapes, and does some glorious work (I only hope I'll like my own work as well, once my own style becomes a bit more stable!). Some of his paintings are realistic in terms of color, but only in the context of special moments, enhanced colors that are rarely seen... e.g., pink or gold mountains as the sun sets in New Mexico, or dark pines reflected in a lake against a glowing orange sky as the sun rises.

Tell me if I'm mistaken, but I've observed that many times my work looks quite 'realistic' in terms of color -- sometimes when I've achieved the look I'm seeking, but other times not! For example, I might capture a church at dusk, or I might seek to capture that church at dusk but end up with something a lot closer to sunset or an overcast day.

My point: if we are sensitive to color and working with a decent palette, there are many, many endpoints (finished paintings) that are "realistic" in that they evoke a very specific time of day or lighting condition, being accurate for that time or condition. Whether or not that is the condition we originally aimed at is another story. Sometimes I start out thinking I'll be painting something, and end up with a painting where the day looks a lot hotter, cooler, or later than I intended -- but I've adapted, during the process, to what the painting was saying to me (that's how it ends up looking "realistic").

This is similar to what happens when a novelist works with a set of characters about whom she has certain expectations, but one minor character suddenly takes on a lot more importance than she intended. There's an interaction between my original intention when I paint, and the effect during development of how it looks, on me. I don't think this is a bad thing... I don't see why we should always yield control to the conscious or ego-intentional parts of ourselves.

If we step back to have a look at a painting, and notice a strong and attractive -- but different than we intended -- potential, it seems to me not only acceptable but maybe even desirable to start to serve the painting rather than attempt to control it. (Anyway, "series" works can always be used to try to resolve this conflict! As in, "next time I'll paint the bright noon image, but this looks interesting here, as if a shadow had been cast just on this part of the hillside... Let me develop this idea of clouds casting shadows here and there.")

But to return to my original point: With a reasonable palette, a very large number of "realistic" images could be painted, many quite acceptable. The lighting conditions of our world have such potential for variation that we can easily interpret what we see in the image, rather than require the image to be an exact duplication of any particular color key or condition. It may be good for the artist to work hard at learning to control color -- mastery of technique is good, of course -- but I think interaction between the artist and her work (if it is "talking back") is healthy, too. :)

King Rundzap
09-23-2004, 03:51 PM
Wow, looks like an interesting thread, but holy cow is it long already!

Anyway, I'll throw in my two cents, as it might be quite different than most (and maybe all) other answers.

I definitely do _not_ trying to paint just what I see, including color-wise. But do I use a color scheme? Well, yes and no. It depends on what I'm working on.

I have a number of approaches to color. Roughly, they can be broken up into three strategies, although often these will be combined in a single work.

One, sometimes I use what I see as a launching pad for what colors I'm going to use, but I'll try to exaggerate what I see, and sometimes make purely theoretical color choices for complementary areas (form-wise) depending on what I think will look funny or bizarre. As an example, if I'm using a photographic reference and a subject's skin has a lot of blue in it, I might choose to paint their skin mostly in different tones of phtalo blue. Or I see a lot of purple in a tree trunk, I might give it purple stripes.

Two, I often just choose colors on a whim or a combination of whim and subtextual significance. If I'm painting an interior with a lot of yellow walls, I might go for a lot of purple and pink for the furniture, to give it an Easter egg effect. Then I might color some items a deep green because to me it's representing Easter hay. I'd probably end up making subtle references to bunny ears, eggs, candy, etc. elsewhere in the painting, even though it might not superficially have anything to do with Easter.

Three, especially when painting landscapes, I like to use different one-to-one mapping schemes for choosing colors. Before I start, I'll make a translation chart for myself in one of many ways. These involve either shifting all colors to complementary colors, or to the primary or secondary "one click over" clockwise or counterclockwise (so blue becomes red or yellow, orange becomes green or purple), or from a primary to the next color "one click over" clockwise or counterclockwise (so blue becomes purple, or blue becomes green) and finally, I'll roll dice for the mapping. In the non-dice rolling systematizations, I'll roll dice for white, black and brown. Then I paint the landscape using the "actual colors" as much as possible, but under the transpositions, instead. Occasionally, whim things will creep in, with some of those subtextual association decisions taken, too. I haven't used this one-to-one mapping transposition much in other kinds of paintings yet (other than landscapes) but I keep intending to explore that, and I'm sure I will soon.

Godzoned
09-23-2004, 06:07 PM
I've always painted what I "see" - mainly painting from Photo referances that I have taken myself.

Never accured to me to paint via colour theme. Seems too limiting although a good challenge to do so. May help more to learn colour mixing, than not. :D

Hmmmm I may give it ago.

I did however challenge myself once to only limit myself to the primary colours to help teach myself colour mixing again. I didn't even use white or black for tones! It worked. :eek:

Marc Sabatella
09-30-2004, 02:45 PM
OK, I wasn't going to say anything more, as I was (and remain) happy with how the discussion resolved itself. But there is a little postscript I thought worth sharing.

On Sunday, I attended a party thrown by my piano technician. I walked in the door, saw several other musicians I know, and the very first person I didn't recognize and was introduced turns out to be Chuck Ceraso, whom some of you may recognize as a student of Hensche's whose name has come up in these discussions from time to time. I had seen him do a demo once, and know several of his students quite well, so even though I hadn't recognized him right away, I certainly knew he lived in the area. Still, the Denver metro area is pretty big, and there are at least 40 miles and a million other people between me, Chuck, and our piano tuner. So it still seemed a rather amazing coincidence.

I ended up hanging out and talking with Chuck for what was probably at least an hour. We talked about music, about parallels betwen music and art, about other artists we both knew, about art marketing, and of course about his experience studying with Hensche and about Hensche's theories. And ultimately I told him about this thread. Turns out (and I hope the concerned parties doesn't mind me sharing this) he had just been hearing about it - from bigflea, whom he had just seen in the days before at a workshop Chuck was teaching in New Mexico! "Oh, you're *that* guy...", said Chuck's eyes. Although it turns out perhaps they may have been discussing a different thread.

Anyhow, I'm thankful my encounter with Chuck took place when it did, not the week before when bigflea and I were more at each other's throats. I think I was able to give Chuck a reasonably objective/rational an overview of the thread, at least from my perspective, and we were able to laugh about it all - the discussion itself, and the coincidence of us both seeing Chuck the same week. I can truly say I've learned a lot from the whole experience. So, bottom line is - I'm really glad this thread happened and went the way it did, and the timing couldn't have been better.

LarrySeiler
09-30-2004, 04:39 PM
"Oh, you're *that* guy...", said Chuck's eyes.


and I suppose in many parts of the world...in discussions similar, I too might be THAT other guy! hahah....oh well...

What worth is an artist if not true to himself, sticking to his guns. Our work is strong, because our opinions and beliefs are strong. When the thinking and heart of it breaks down...so does the work.

as to stepping on toes...yes, but as to the nature of the work and what is required to make our work work...NO APOLOGIES!

take care...interesting story Marc

Larry

bigflea
09-30-2004, 07:43 PM
That's a wonderful ps Marc. I guess the cosmos has a great sense of humor after all. It was odd that Chuck and I were doing workshops the same week at the Ghost Ranch, but we have done workshops together in the past. There were at least 4 painting workshops going on there that week, and we all seemed to be having a great time, even though the weather was very unstable for 3 of the 5 days. The subject of the thread came up when I showed up a little late and mentioned I was in the middle of the discussion of the thread and did not feel it was a good idea to not respond, especially while the potato was so hot. Chuck mentioned he had been to a RS demo presentation near that area some time back. Well I am glad you got to talk and you feel the thread was worth the effort you expended. I had forgotten to mention your name to Chuck, since I recalled you had briefly met or seen his work or demo before. He had not recognized your name from that other discussion, so it is very funny to hear of your meeting now. He's a great guy to paint with, and we always seem to spend most of our time in laughter.
k

Donald_Smith
10-01-2004, 05:08 PM
Good question Larry. For me, I look for several things in a sceen before I paint it. Light and shadows, and I look for contrasts of warms and cools, or atmosphere. If I see a pretty green field with a nice red barn in it, then I like that too, it already has the color contrasts I want, so my painting ends up being a complimentary color sceme. If I see a field of yellow flowers with green hills in the back ground, and a blue sky, well, I like that too because it appeals to my desire to paint a anaologous color sceme. So, I pick the scene that I want to paint partially because of the color sceme I see naturally in the scene, and also because of the lights and shadows that play across that scene.

I'm working more towards paintings that show atmosphere, or capture my eye because of the intreging patterns of lights and darks.

Here is a photograph I took that will show an example of a scene that would interest me enough to paint it.

Don

Einion
10-08-2004, 08:19 PM
According to NASA research, color is best seen or recognized in the periphery of vision.
Hi Ken, pardon me for dredging this up but I was only reminded of it just now. Do you have a link to this on the NASA site or an abstract relating to this?

I know you go into a bit more detail about it further on in the paragraph but as a basic statement of fact this struck me as incorrect immediately upon reading it, but I'd like to read the exact wording of the original research. This clashes directly with what I've observed while doing specific colour observations in the past and since reading the comment I've looked at it as objectively as I can with myself. I've also asked independent questions of a few people (non-artists) who, without prompting, concurred with what I thought so I'm doubly sceptical, even were it not for an underlying physiological reason that made me doubtful.

Einion

Richard Saylor
10-08-2004, 08:49 PM
Hi Ken, pardon me for dredging this up but I was only reminded of it just now. Do you have a link to this on the NASA site or an abstract relating to this?
I don't know if this is it, but it might be worth checking out. http://colorusage.arc.nasa.gov/color_science.php

bigflea
10-08-2004, 09:21 PM
Several years ago there was a national radio broadcast advising amateur skywatchers on the best methods for glimpsing specific stars, by recognition of their coloring differences. The NASA recommendation was for the viewer to use a peripheral glance, as opposed to staring at star clusters, as a way to discern the subtle color changes that distinguished one group from another. The technique was for the eye to sweep across the whole sky, and make a note of the coloring as it registered in the periphery of the focal area of the eye, without focusing on the areal. I thought it was interesting and curious and tried it and found that it indeed made a difference in what coloring differences could be recognized. I am sure they were not saying that the color receptors are in the periphery of the vision, and I am not saying that either. Maybe that is what you are objecting to? What the peripheral glance does is allow the eye to work in a natural way, while staring into a focal area tends to neutralize coloring qualities, at least in my vision. So the comment is really about the way the eye is used to discern coloring qualities, not about some departure from the academic science of color seeing.

How does that fit with your own findings or techniques for discerning subtle color differences? Keep in mind that they were recommending seeing the color differences just outside of the focal area of vision, and not way out in the limit of the periphery.

I don't have a copy of the broadcast. It may be possible to find one however.
ken

Einion
10-09-2004, 06:55 PM
Glancing aside to view dim celestial bodies is a well-known trick when stargazing and actually ties in precisely with the physiological reason I refer to above. Night vision is however quite different from daylight vision and the eyes, in concert with the visual system, make adaptations to maximise acuity.

I am sure they were not saying that the color receptors are in the periphery of the vision, and I am not saying that either. Maybe that is what you are objecting to?
...
Keep in mind that they were recommending seeing the color differences just outside of the focal area of vision, and not way out in the limit of the periphery.
That last part is precisely why I was asking, "the periphery of vision" phrase you used before was what rang the alarm bells.

Simple research on foveal and parafoveal vision will show why for anyone interested.

The technique was for the eye to sweep across the whole sky, and make a note of the coloring as it registered in the periphery of the focal area of the eye, without focusing on the areal. I thought it was interesting and curious and tried it and found that it indeed made a difference in what coloring differences could be recognized.
...
What the peripheral glance does is allow the eye to work in a natural way, while staring into a focal area tends to neutralize coloring qualities, at least in my vision.
Night viewing itself isn't the best to extrapolate from but in discussing daylight vision this does make a lot more sense. Most experienced observers (painters and otherwise) know that you can't stare fixedly at a subject and hope to be able to discern it well; just as with most of our senses vision has in-built fatigue from monotonous input.

This doesn't mean that one actually sees colour better outside the centre of vision (you don't I assure you) but one has to be aware when doing precise colour observations of the need to shift the gaze around, particularly for subjects of limited colour variation that encompass the zone of sharp focus or harder still, the entire visual field.

If one looks at the Colour Discrimination And Identification section on the NASA colour science lab page linked to above (thanks Richard) you can read about some of the issues this relates to and check your own vision in a controlled way - many of the individual examples have parallels in common painting situations, particularly for plein air painters. One of my favourites is illustrated in the Edge vs. Smooth Gradient section; if you view the pairs of colour blocks you can see that, looking directly at the soft-edged examples it is indeed much harder to see the differences than in the hard-edged examples. But if you bob your vision side to side you begin to regain discrimination. Notice that this gives superior results to another technique you might see recommended, which is to stare at one half but pay attention to the hue of the opposite half.

Einion

bigflea
10-09-2004, 07:34 PM
Yes I can see how the use of the "peripheral vision" phrasing could miscommunicate the goal, which is to get the best use of the eye for subtle color comparisons. Perhaps "glancing focus" is more descriptive of the actual visual practice. In the far periphery of my own vision, coloring is more broadly generalized and diffused than in an area glimpsed slightly outside of the focal area. The plane changes of an area often require incremental shape/color changes in order to complete the volume of a form, and diffusing them or generalizing them leads away from the goal of a continuous volume with color differentiations. In all cases, the eye is kept moving in order to avoid the fatigue and neutralizing problem. Another way to describe the visual practive could be "looking past or in front of" the area being developed to see the color relationship.The idea of both is to see the context of several color planes together, rather than isolate any one from the other by staring.

The recommendation was not a point of departure for me, since I had always used those visual habits as a means to develop coloring in paintings, yet it was interesting to me that it was of use to stargazers.
k

King Rundzap
10-10-2004, 04:16 AM
Hi Ken, pardon me for dredging this up but I was only reminded of it just now. Do you have a link to this on the NASA site or an abstract relating to this?

I know you go into a bit more detail about it further on in the paragraph but as a basic statement of fact this struck me as incorrect immediately upon reading it, but I'd like to read the exact wording of the original research. This clashes directly with what I've observed while doing specific colour observations in the past and since reading the comment I've looked at it as objectively as I can with myself. I've also asked independent questions of a few people (non-artists) who, without prompting, concurred with what I thought so I'm doubly sceptical, even were it not for an underlying physiological reason that made me doubtful.

Einion

I'd have to search for the research, too, but from what I recall, the basic idea was that your peripheral vision was more sensitive to color because "direct" vision tends to be overstimulated. I've done some amateur astronomy, and I agree with the idea, but can only notice it in that scenario, maybe because the difference is so slight. The way I was able to check it for myself was the usual way that is recommended--if I looked at a star with peripheral vision rather than direct vision, and it's easier to do this in a telescope, it was much easier to tell the star's color. Directly, stars appeared to be more white. Indirectly, blue, red, etc. would become more apparent.

. . . as for what it could have to do with my painting, I don't know, lol, but at least I concur with the statement that my peripheral vision is more sensitive to color differences in some situations. I agree that not everyone would have to be the same on that, though.

[King Rundzap goes off wondering if a lot of people are going to start looking at his paintings sideways . . .]

LarrySeiler
10-10-2004, 11:19 AM
who did the study...how can it be verified...and withnot...all I know is that as a practical matter for me out in the field, using periphery vision as another strategy helps me detect and tweak more areas of color.

Especially if there is a question about an area of color in my mind...looking off to the side and look peripherally usually settles the matter for me...

take care

Larry

Einion
10-10-2004, 01:04 PM
...from what I recall, the basic idea was that your peripheral vision was more sensitive to color...
As I mentioned above it's not, despite how it might appear. Observations at night are tricky to extrapolate from as I said, because the visual system switches to give priority to rod inputs - this is the reason that twilight produces certain difficulties in seeing and there are many road accidents, we're switching from day viewing mode to night viewing mode.

The reason we can't see dim stars directly is because there are no rods in the fovea... the reason there are no rods is because the cones are denser there than anywhere else on the retina and hence our colour vision is best there.

Einion

King Rundzap
10-10-2004, 07:01 PM
As I mentioned above it's not, despite how it might appear.


Well, in general for most people, maybe not. But however it appears would be how it is. There's no way to argue that appearances are wrong there, without adopting other theoretical assumptions that might be wrong. For example, for me, peripheral vision for star color, at night, is more "fine-tuned". For other people it might not be. I agree that most of the time I do not experience peripheral vision as more fine-tuned for color, but sometimes I do, and I can't be wrong there, since it's a claim about phenomenal experience.


Observations at night are tricky to extrapolate from as I said, because the visual system switches to give priority to rod inputs - this is the reason that twilight produces certain difficulties in seeing and there are many road accidents, we're switching from day viewing mode to night viewing mode.


I agree that extrapolating from a particular experience to more general experiences, as a purely theoretical matter, is problematic.

Marc Sabatella
10-12-2004, 12:38 PM
I agree that extrapolating from a particular experience to more general experiences, as a purely theoretical matter, is problematic.

It's more than that - there really is fundamental difference between how we see in full light situations (when the cone structures provide most of the information to our brain, and they are highly sensitive to color) versus on low light situations (when the rod structures provide most of the information to our brains, and they are *not* very sensitive to color). There is really no reason to assume that things you do to trick the rods into conveying more color information at night would have any special relevance to behavior of cones during the day. I'm not saying there I know for a fact it *doesn't* work, and indeed, I'm sure there is value in doing so, if for no other reason than the fact that we can gauge *value* better when we are not staring into an area. When we stare into an area, we refocus, our pupils adjust, and we can only judge values *within*that area well, but we'll pretty consistently get tricked into thinking the lighter areas within a dark shape are lighter than they really are compared to areas *outside* the dark shape.

Of course, one of the big emphases in Hensche's teaching, as I understand it, has to do with using hue instead of value to indcate things like plane changes or light effects. And to the extent it is tough to really do much with hue paint at either end of the value scale, I can see why there might be an overall tendency toward favoring middle values. This is indeed the result I often see, at least in folks trying to use these methods but perhaps not doing a very good job. And this is precisely what I would expect by default if people in fact did not use peripheral vision enough.

BTW, I too was an amateur astronomer at one time, so of course I am quite familiar with the trick of "looking sideways" to gauge the color of a star. It's about as commonly recommended a device among astronomers as "squinting" is for judging value among artists. Somewhat less effective, though - it still always struck me as wishful thinking to say I saw color in most stars, with some obvious exceptions like Betelgeuse.

bigflea
10-12-2004, 07:17 PM
[QUOTE=Marc Sabatella]
Of course, one of the big emphases in Hensche's teaching, as I understand it, has to do with using hue instead of value to indcate things like plane changes or light effects. And to the extent it is tough to really do much with hue paint at either end of the value scale.

Not to interrupt your train of thought re. un resolved use of hue to state value relationships, Marc, only a clarification. It would be inaccurate to say value was not a concern in the actual teaching situation conducted by Hensche. He was a master of value and tone description, and his early work as well as his drawing will attest to that fact. Value was always a concern to the painter's I knew who studied with him the longest, and we always relied on value in some ways. For example, most painter's agreed that if the value relationships were wrong, then the hue relationships were also wrong. However, if value relationships were right, it was still possible for the hue relationships to be wrong, for a study in a particular color key. So value was not an indication of the resolution of the hue problems, only some of the evidence that the hue relationships were not resolved harmonically to register correct values, in that light key.

As far as the discussion of the use of middle values goes, it is really difficult for me to say anything relevant without looking at the work being discussed or used as an example. There is such a wide range of subjective tendencies in painters who studied that approach, that generalizing really clarifies little. It might prove worthwhile to have a few examples for a general discussion.

The fact that HH understood value well unfortunately does not mean others following his model for color development did. Much of his work is presented in a jpg format that has been oversaturated beyond recognition, and as a result painters who are used to value/tone paintings cannot see the relationship between his color development and the recognition of familiar forms. Still other painters who attach his name to their work do not do the color modeling that is necessary to arrive at both hue and value solutions in a light key. So looking at particular works, in a reasonable facsimili, might serve more purpose in resolving some of the discourse re. HH's ideas.
ken

Dave Carter
01-30-2005, 01:09 PM
I did not vote. "Sometimes" would have been my answer. Budget constaints often dictate the scheme as well as my quirky nature. I am a life long sufferer of depression and ADHD, which means my more sucessful work is very spontaneous...little or no forethought as to color and other factors. These are, for me, the fun paintings where the magic happens. Watercolors are best for this, but there is magic in acrylics and oils as well. Sometimes I would dip my brush blindly in any pallette well and let the rest of the colors be guided by that random act. Somedays I feel like red, somedays blue, so I will start there. Full brush, wet in wet, what subject/color is it? No idea untill the paint tells me. Certain colors may sugest a shape or mood and I'm off. Color theory and schemes play a minor role. I do end up with some duds, but that is what acrylics are for! Being crazy works for this artist!!! :wink2:

sarahbellum
02-10-2005, 07:02 PM
I have just read (more or less) all the posts in this thread and I am feeling kind of confused, to be honest, because there seems to be an underlying assumption that is carried by most of the people responding: namely, that one's objective, whether painting "optically" or using a scheme, is to reproduce with some degree of realism an object or scene. But what if that is not your objective in doing art? I believe very much in acquiring the skills needed to reproduce a given effect, but there is SO much more to art than that.

Am I missing something? What about all the extraordinary painters from Cezanne to Motherwell who were dedicated to experimenting? I kind of don't think Cezanne was attempting to reproduce Mont Ste. Victoire but just didn't have the time or leisure to do a better job; or that Motherwell lacked the skill to do a realist painting. They, and countless other artists, were intent on pushing their perceptions, and ours, to another plane. And it isn't an issue of working en plein air--Derain and Signac both were plein air painters at least part of the time, for example. Why are we talking about Scott Christensen when there are people like Pissarro and Franz Marc and (dare I say it) Frank Stella to learn from?
Forgive me if I am in the wrong place, but it is seeming very much as though this forum is geared strongly to those who are interested only in the techniques of more-or-less realistic figurative painting. Is that the case? I feel a little like a Catholic who just stumbled into a mosque. Nothing wrong with the mosque, but if you were expecting to meet other Catholics, it's a little startling.

Sarah in Western Mass

bigflea
02-10-2005, 10:33 PM
Sarahbellum,
You make a good point, i.e., interests in technique and picture making seems to have become the end all of study, when artists like Cezanne were addressing something broader, and not nearly as conventional as we see today. Let's face it, realism, and by that I mean a convention of painting that does not necessarily have much to do with visual truth, has reasserted itself. Impressionism was, historically, one of the best known movements that attempted to break the academic conventions of realism, and lead the way toward a form of painting that was based in visual perception and visual consciousness. However, instead of being seen as a new vision of reality, academic painters simply copied the style of impressionism, without understanding the visual perception of impressionist painters.

Cezanne was seen by Monet and Pissarro as one of the most advanced painters, who was willing to forego all of the commercialism and career concerns in order to attempt to develop a purely visual color language. Anyone who does not understand this needs to read Cezanne's own words. He was misinterpreted by modernists as someone who was trying to create a form of painting that was indepedent of visual nature.

So I think your name dropping is far too broad, and anyone who has ever studied Cezanne would know that he was one of the most deeply devoted nature painters that ever lived. He has little in common with modernists like Motherwell and Stella. To lump them all together as experimenters entirely misses the meaning of the work they were doing in their time.
ken

Donald_Smith
02-11-2005, 07:55 AM
Sarahbellum,

You wrote, "namely, that one's objective, whether painting "optically" or using a scheme, is to reproduce with some degree of realism an object or scene. But what if that is not your objective in doing art? I believe very much in acquiring the skills needed to reproduce a given effect, but there is SO much more to art than that."

Would you be kind enough to explain what YOUR objective in doing art is?

The original question on this thread was, "do we paint with a color scheme in mind?" For me the answer is still "Yes." If I just use any color I want, any where I want, the painting doesn't work for me. Some people may have the ability to do that and make it work, I can not. So, I do think about what basic color scheme will be predominant in my paintings, when I'm planning how I want to paint a scene. I'm not saying I don't use the other colors, I do, but in small doses so the over all color scheme doesn't get lost.

Don

LarrySeiler
02-11-2005, 11:47 PM
Don....I appreciate what you said here....

In the beginning a "degree of realism" was important to me. It was important to assert myself as having a degree of skill in observing and in rendering that which I observed. It was important in doing that judged as equal or better than my peers feeling it necessary to do the same thing...all trying to best each other, putting 200 to 300 hours of labor intensive effort into a work.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Feb-2005/532-snowyowl_partridge.jpg

Here is a very expensive winning piece of mine that won a state title, worth about $17,000 today. What does it say? It says...here is a snowy owl, and wow...it has a lot of detail, oh...the artist must be good. A degree of realism? Sure...

Here is another...a river otter with a caught brook trout. What does it say? It says, here is a river otter. It eats a trout. It looks like this when it is wet, and it also says the artist developed some skill to make detail.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Feb-2005/532-otter_b_fishin.jpg

Here are two others...the first painted in two hours standing out on a frozen lake last weekend,

Here I was attracted to the light...staring toward the sun, excited by the drama it created. I wasn't trying to best other artists. Wasn't concerned who might buy it, or how it might prove my skill. Instead...it was like engaging in expressing how I was feeling. How the moment touched me, and this need I felt as a painter to celebrate the moment-

9x12" oil on Wallis paper-
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Feb-2005/532-shantys_endsession.jpg

This one I finished yesterday...a 20"x 24" oil on linen-
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Feb-2005/532-superiorshoresdone72.jpg

What does it say? I hope it expresses the impression nature plucked on the strings of my heart, a sense of movement, of light...color. Again...celebrating, feeling alive...attempting to prove nothing, nada, zippo..

I am painting for different reasons now than for the first 20 years. I wearied of feeling as though I were on trial to prove my worth. The kudos became empty.

There are other things that should have a degree of realism too...like, be stinkin' real with yourself! A painting should show to have been of major importance and interest to the artist that was necessary to be made, and that interest will then be of interest to the viewer. No more stale stagnant gotta prove something paintings. Yech...puke, blaaaaaaa

I'm tired of the suggestion that Cezanne and his peers discovered something important that supposedly we have neglected to take note of. Give me a break. If I am going to be true to myself and my work is necessary, then it should not have to look to what was necessary for someone else to find legitimacy.

If I find something I like in an artist's work that says something or rings true of something which currently touches my aesthetic....like perhaps Scott Christensen's limited palette...its not that I'm trying to immortalize Scott or suggest his work better or more important to Cezannes. Its just that Cezannes work doesn't say anything to me, doesn't show me anything essential. I'll give credit where credit is due, but not to suggest everyone else ought to feel the same. Just what rings essential for me.

Respond, express, celebrate....that to me is painting realistically by including my own spirit as a real consideration to what is realism.

Larry

Donald_Smith
02-12-2005, 12:40 AM
Larry,

FWIW, my favorite of the four you posted is the last one. I like the movement in the water, and I love the colors. I've gotten really fond of blue and green color scheme. To me they are very peaceful. It is the serenity in that last painting that I like the most. There is enough juxtapostion between the lights and darks, warms and cools to keep the interest of the viewer. Simple composition, yet elegant.

Is that what you were hoping the viewer would get out of your last painting? "A peaceful, easy feeling?"

Don

LarrySeiler
02-12-2005, 12:45 AM
Larry,

FWIW, my favorite of the four you posted is the last one. I like the movement in the water, and I love the colors. I've gotten really fond of blue and green color scheme. To me they are very peaceful. It is the serenity in that last painting that I like the most. There is enough juxtapostion between the lights and darks, warms and cools to keep the interest of the viewer. Simple composition, yet elegant.

Is that what you were hoping the viewer would get out of your last painting? "A peaceful, easy feeling?"

Don

thanks Don...yes, that's it...
It was exactly how I was feeling lollygagglin' my way along the beach, the large spanse of several miles I walked, sun shining...no sense of care, no sense of ills in the world. A feeling that all is well, that beauty reigned. The sublime simply wrapped itself around me. Yes...peaceful...easy. No care in the world. *sigh.... :cat:

You know to add to what I said earlier...it is as if to suggest that the moment has worth. The painting need not be painted to prove that Cezanne's understanding mandates the need to continue with his vision or ideas of the world. It need not be painted to prove I am worthy of the title "artist"....but it was necessary because the moment itself mandated a response. Such a response communicated as a writer might lend to the need of a poem...as a musician, a song....but, as a dabbler of paint and visual thinker, it came out here as it did.

Larry

sarahbellum
02-14-2005, 05:54 PM
Ken,
I am rather offended by your remarks. Yes, I have read Cezanne's own words. It is patronizing to assume I haven't. And no, I don't think it is "name-dropping" to mention artists who were dedicated neither to reproducing naturalistic colors nor to adhering to a preconceived color scheme. I was trying to make the point that color choice isn't an either/or proposition.

Obviously Motherwell and Cezanne are very different. Duh. But one thing they have in common is a willingness to experiment with color in ways that don't seem to fit with either of the two options offered in this poll. I was trying to point out that it is possible to paint without an agenda, and that we need not limit ourselves to just two choices.

By the way, have you in fact looked at any of Cezanne's MSV paintings? Surprisingly, the actual hill, in real life, does not have large dabs of scarlet and blue on it.

FriendCarol
02-14-2005, 08:15 PM
Well, Larry, I rather liked that fourth painting too. But, I love Cezanne's work. If I ever figure out what it is about his landscapes that speaks to me, I'll let everyone else know, too! (I can't yet articulate that.) :D

In your painting (the fourth), I first enjoy the sense of movement imparted by those dynamic cloud shapes. But then my eye moves to the stones (blue) on the beach, and it's as if I've moved to a different place, or a different time, than the place and time occupied by those clouds. As if this small inlet is warm, sheltered from the wind that's kicking up the surf and blowing the clouds around.

Why I love the MSV paintings I really don't know. I used to have a postcard-sized print (from a museum) of one pinned to my wall, when I was much younger, and never tired of looking at it. There was so much to see, yet I don't know what it was I was seeing! It's odd, because the simple planes of color don't seem, on the surface, to be able to hold so much that fascinates me.

(Sarah, there is occasionally a 'male thing' that goes on in many of the WC! forums. :D In fact, sometimes I wonder how many other women post in the more contentious threads, though I don't think about it often. On the other hand, the chattier forums are often dominated by women. Hope you hang in here; I could use the company!)

Einion
02-14-2005, 08:39 PM
Since Cézanne and his experimentation has been mentioned a couple of times I'd say that if you look at his body of work I don't think one could honestly class him as one of the great users of colour. Pushing the boundaries is all well and good but to what end?

I'm not sure that a greater degree of verisimilitude was Cézanne goal anyway and if it were he would have been well suited to not abandoning his hard-won drawing skills along the way! As for his landscape work, from the perspective of realistic portrayal the use of colour is frequently fanciful and the value structure in many is so jumbled as to make them almost unreadable visually: is that anything to look up to?

Einion

LarrySeiler
02-14-2005, 09:22 PM
I suppose I have a strange facility.

On one hand, I am an arts instructor by day...the other, the artist during spare few moments during the day, after school is done (nights), weekends...and all summer long.

As an instructor, I can recognize the contributions to the history of the fine arts many artists have made, have no problem teaching it with respect, appreciation and so forth.

As the artist, I am at once more opinionated having a strong sense of my own evolution and directions, my own passions.

As the instructor...I appreciate the masters...including post-Impressionists and Expressionists and so forth such as Cezanne's contributions. As an artist, I can be honest in saying his work does little for me.

When I see work for which I can feel I wish I had painted, or had the eye and understanding myself to produce...something inside sits up to pay notice, becomes like the attentive student ready for all input.

I have no inclination whatsoever to paint like Cezanne...and that is the artist in me speaking. Please understand that the teacher in me means no disrespect, and I most certainly can encourage and support anyone else's appreciation for him.

As for Impressionists...I respect the French founders and their role which led to schools which many American painters traveled to learn. My personal opinion is that there were better Impressionist painters in America, and others that evolved from that movement.

Does that mean that objectively this is true? Absolutely not. It means something resonates in their work I connect to, that seems more where I myself am or work hard to be.

There are the works of those that humble us as artists, for whom we respect, whose work cause us to pay attention...and those for who we as art appreciators respect and honor as icons of history.

If you think about it...artists gain this respect rarely in their lifetime, more long or many years after their death. Some of these artists had love/hate relationships with each other...calling each other names, holding disdain, and at that time none of them had an inkling they'd be revered by fine arts history. IN other words, they were very human.

Some possibly even here at WC may one day be spoken of in generations to come...but right now we ourselves as their contemporary may not even have a clue.

Larry

Einion
02-14-2005, 09:50 PM
When I see work for which I can feel I wish I had painted, or had the eye and understanding myself to produce...something inside sits up to pay notice, becomes like the attentive student ready for all input.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Aug-2003/3842-thumbsup.gif

As for Impressionists...I respect the French founders and their role which led to schools which many American painters traveled to learn. My personal opinion is that there were better Impressionist painters in America, and others that evolved from that movement.
I only recently became aware of the work of Childe Hassan and I thought it was extremely impressive: Impressionist colour but without throwing away some of the important fundamentals (the baby with the bathwater if you will :)).

Einion

bigflea
02-14-2005, 11:15 PM
Sarah,
In your initial comments Cezanne and the two modernists were all described as experimenters which was part of your main point about having a non objective point of view. My comment was to clarify that Cezanne was unique by comparison to the other two, in that he was devoted to the study of form and color in nature. ( Not saying he was a true colorist as the term may be understood today, nor am I saying he succeeded in his stated goals.) He was attempting to come to a visual realization of nature that did not simply re state the conventions of realism, or of commonly adhered to conventions thought to be "objectivity". His work really has nothing to do with the developments in modernism, nor with the academic realism that dominated the Academy during those times. He has been lumped in with the modern movement, even named as the "father" of modernism, a title which I suspect he would find highly offensive.

Your comments did not make any distinctions, which I feel are deserved given that Cezanne has been interpreted in ways that has nothing to do with his work or his stated goals.

drollere
03-13-2005, 01:52 AM
**possible flame alert!**

i have a huge uncontrollable dislike for "color theory" so i have to say, if i ever found i had painted with a scheme, i'd shoot myself.

however, the veer into plein air is somewhat to the point. isn't the question not whether painters use a scheme, but either (1) what could a 'scheme' possibly be useful for? or (2) what is it that a 'scheme' actually tells you to do?

there are two ways to illustrate my fundamental contempt for schemes:

1. "complementary colors are antagonists." ok, so the why is red and turquoise so irritating to look at but violet and green so soothing, almost sensually silky?

2. "analogous colors are colors next to each other on the color wheel." ok, so why are almost all the "analogous" paintings either of just warm colors (reds and yellows) or just cool colors (usually blues), but never of just violets, or just greens?

my point is that "color theory" has this implacable drive to create arbitrary, formless, empty abstractions. the fact that painters do not apply these abstractions through the purely arbitrary and empty combination of colors shows clearly that the abstractions, per se, do not say anything about the actual choices of colors necessary to make a good painting or a good visual design. but this leaves open the question: what are the good choices?

plein air is to the point because it concerns (i think) the attempt to capture the effects of light and atmosphere, and these have specific harmonizing effects on landscape colors that every plein air painter has to learn to grapple with. "color theory" says absolutely nothing about this.

but we also have the example of consumer products packaging, where we find for example that green and violet are used for herbal soaps but orange and cyan are used for laundry detergents. we can infer that packaged goods companies must know quite a bit about complementary colors that painters never hear in their "color theory" courses.

if i have any kind of mental "scheme," it's this: a painting lets certain colors into the ring.

if i paint a landscape, whatever else happens, i am probably letting green and blue into the ring. so i have first of all to face the dynamics of these two colors on their own, then how they will dominate all the other colors that may get inserted, as objects or as touches of modifying paint mixture.

if it's a stormy landscape, then i'm probably inserting gray and brown, with hints of blue and white, and i start from there.

what follows is quite a bit like the tactical considerations in a game of chess. yes, i can add this color, or intensify that color, but then this or that happens to the other colors, and this or that will happen if i add this new color. or i end up with a painting that i do not like, that i do want to burn, and the question is how do i add or remove color to move it in a specific direction?

"color theory" is basically lazy theory, because it dismisses all these problems so that it can replace them with simple formulas: color schemes.

it's like a chess tutor i knew who taught me chess this way: "you can just move your pawns, this is the analogous game. or you can just move your knights and bishops, this is the complementary game. or just move your knights and bishops, and then shove your queen down his throat; this is the split complementary game."

"yes, but how do i win the game?"

"kid, i only can teach you how to push wood. play 500 games, and then you'll know how to win."