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llis
10-26-2000, 08:15 AM
Wow! What wonderful tips! Thanks, Diane. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Mud Conscious Article (http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles/DianeJohnson/mud.html)

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See you in the Cafe Chat Room (http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/WetChat/index.html) ...Or, stop by ... the Virtual Cafe Guerbois (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/cafe/) today and sign up for one of the painting/drawing projects!

[This message has been edited by llis (edited October 26, 2000).]

JayDAnderson
11-05-2000, 08:07 PM
I like to use lean colour... basically right out of the tube and when I mix I mix generally only two colors or with white or black to lighten or darken. This keeps me out of the mud. Lean colour also dries faster... I add some oil as I go to later coats.

kayemme
12-17-2000, 04:19 PM
i just wanted to add:

to keep your palette in tune with your canvas, use a piece of glass (or i rather plexiglass) so that you may change the environment underneath it..

it helps a BUNCH.

km

llis
12-20-2001, 10:00 PM
Just did a review of this article, Diane... again, thanks so much for sharing with all of us. :)

impressionist2
12-21-2001, 07:35 AM
Llis, I know Diane from a plein air list she and I are on. She's a terrific artist.

Thanks for the link. I am way too quick with mixing the white and I thought the tips on lightening the value while retaining the intensity without adding white was very helpful. As well as muting with the complimentary if too intense.

I have always avoided black ( except for muting effects in portraits- a nice effect) in the darks. I usually go thalo green/alizarin crimson or Ultra blue/raw umber.

Renee

llis
12-21-2001, 08:05 AM
Renee:

I know Diane too. :) She is a fine Christian lady who I had the honor to travel with while attending one of her workshops in Giverny, France. Painting in Monet's garden was the greatest, but having Diane as an instructor topped it off. :)

Photographs in Giverny (http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles/Franklin/Monet/)

And, also check out the image library. I took pictures like crazy. :)

impressionist2
12-21-2001, 08:17 AM
Llis, What a fantastic experience that must've been! I am sure you have visited that beauty again and again in your memory as well.

There is nothing like a great teacher.

I love the expression, "When the student is ready, the teacher will come."

Does Diane participate in or visit WC?

Renee

llis
12-21-2001, 09:51 AM
Yes, Diane is a moderator her at WC!. She frequents the landscape, pastel, acrylic and art business forums. She is also very busy with her own art career. At the moment she is away, swamped with shows, family, and holidays.

She also has a bulletin board for developing art careers at Painter's Exchange Cafe (http://pub49.ezboard.com/bpainterscafe) Which is a spur from her Critique Shop website.


In other words....she is a very busy lady. :)

Mario
12-22-2001, 09:39 PM
I attended a color workshop taught by Jim Wallace...he pointed out the fact that: What makes mud is the mixing of two pigments of widely different VALUES!!! Huh?
Yes, then he went on to prove it....taking colors from all sections of the color wheel and making sure that they were all equal to each other in value, he proceeded to mix any one with the other and NONE PRODUCED MUD...in fact even complimentary opposites produced subtle variations of bright clean color....mind blowing...Perhaps, a discovery of Jim's, since he did stop painting, at one time ,for a whole year so that he could experiment only with mixing colors.
Since then, I have noted that when I come up with mud, it is the product of mixing together two widely different VALUES not colors!! check it out.:evil: :cool: ;)

llis
12-22-2001, 09:42 PM
Cool, Mario... I think I will. :) Color experiments are fast becoming my favorite hobby. :)

Einion
12-26-2001, 03:17 AM
Originally posted by JayDAnderson
when I mix I mix generally only two colors or with white or black to lighten or darken. This keeps me out of the mud.
Isn't this a bit limiting in terms of colour Jay?

Originally posted by Mario
Jim Wallace... pointed out... that: What makes mud is the mixing of two pigments of widely different VALUES!!!
Exqueeze me?????

My consternation is directed at Mr. Wallace I assure you Mario, I wasn't there when he showed you so I don't know what examples he might have used. Does he mean you can only get mud this way? If so as a general rule this is a load of horse-puckey!

In the spirit of an exception disproving a rule:
1, Cadmium Red Medium and Chromium Oxide Green
2, Perinone Orange mixed with Cobalt Green
3, Raw Umber and Manganese Violet
I wouldn't describe the neutral one gets with #1 as mud but some might (especially in relation to other bright colours) and they are both around value 4. Many people would describe the resulting colour in #2 as mud and these two are similar in value. Last but not least Raw Umber and Manganese Violet definitely mix a colour that just about everyone would agree is mud and again, about the same value. Now you might consider using Raw Umber as one of the starting colours as cheating but nobody said I couldn't :)

Course this depends on your definition of exactly what mud is... one painter's neutral is another painter's mud.

What makes mud when only two pigments are involved is much better described as the interaction between chromatically complex colours (often described as dirty) inside the paint film. There, that clears things up doesn't it?

Originally posted by Mario
in fact even complimentary opposites produced subtle variations of bright clean color....mind blowing...
True complements or near complements by definition cannot produce bright clean colour, the interaction produces neutrals or near blacks (i.e. a low-chroma result). If you do get a bright result (i.e. fairly high-chroma) then the two colours are not complements.

Einion

Patrick1
12-27-2001, 03:17 AM
This is an interesting thread. But first, I hope we all have the same definition of mud. I think of mud as a brownish-grey colour. Is this the generally accepted meaning? If not, what is?

I can also find some examples to disprove Mr. Wallace's notion that mixing colours of widely different values is what produces mud. Einion showed that many combinations of two colours with similar value produce mud. Here's three examples of two colours of very different value that definitely don't produce mud:

-lemon yellow (cadmium or hansa) + phthalo blues

-lemon yellow (cadmium or hansa) + phthalo green blue shade

-medium yellow (cadmium or hansa) plus quinacrodone rose or several middle to deep reds

But maybe Mr. Wallace's reasoning was because on the conventional artists' colour wheel, yellow (lightest colour) is pretty much opposite blue-violet or violet colour...the greatest difference in values between 'pure' pigment hues, and these two colours really do produce a muddy, dirty-looking colour when mixed. By most colour wheels/models/theory you'd expect to be able to mix a 'clean' neutral grey with these but it seems to be difficlut or impossible. Maybe this was what Mr. Wallace was going by?


Einion writes:

"What makes mud when only two pigments are involved is much better described as the interaction between chromatically complex colours (often described as dirty) inside the paint film."

This is getting interesting! But doesn't "chromatically complex" simply mean that a colour is closer to black (or grey?) than a 'pure' pigment or mixture of the same relative hue? So even though it may look complex (difficult to describe) it can easily be defined by its co-ordinates on a colour wheel or 3-dimensional colour model?

Or if it's a transparent colour, I think it's complexity be attributed to the contrast between it's masstone and undertone (difference in value and hue)...and because the variations in hue within different thicknesses of the colour, difficult to pinpoint on a colour wheel. Like in the following, very complex-looking, but clean-looking colours:

-quinacridone burnt orange
-quinacridone crimson
-alizarin crimson
-quinacridone gold
-transparent iron oxide
-perinone orange + diox. purple (you could get a more transparent orange for sure, maybe purple)

I also think that since most of the complex colours are warm (at least to my eyes), some of their complexity can be arttributed to the fact that it's relatively difficult to identify the relative hue of desaturated warm colours?

I know I'm digressing from the original topic, which was about how to minimize mud, but this thing about 'complex' colours is interesting.


Mario writes:

"complimentary opposites produced subtle variations of bright clean color"

Maybe when only a small amount of the compliment is added, so it still remains quite clean? Mario, if you read this, can you rememebr which exact colours were used?

For example, I would think that if you took a clean, transparent reddish orange like transparent pyrrole orange, and you added a small touch of a transparent compliment (a phthalo blue), I'd think this would also make a nice, complex colour...probably close to transparent red oxide (looking at my Golden colour chart). Even though this is a desaturated orange, it's far from muddy-looking.

JeffG
12-27-2001, 09:21 AM
Originally posted by Domer
...
For example, I would think that if you took a clean, transparent reddish orange like transparent pyrrole orange, and you added a small touch of a transparent compliment (a phthalo blue), I'd think this would also make a nice, complex colour...probably close to transparent red oxide (looking at my Golden colour chart). Even though this is a desaturated orange, it's far from muddy-looking.

What I've found works for me to avoid mud when mixing "complements" is to concentrate on avoiding mixing 2 pairs of complements.... and I'm talking about doing this when I'm mixing only 2 pigments. With my modified split-primary pallette, I know that almost none of my paints fall directly as a "pure" shade, as they lean toward a neighbor one way or the other. Some folks describe this as a "warm" or "Cool" version of the color, but I prefer to think of my paints as "a blue that leans towards red (violet) or else yellow (green). Thats why I've found toning Alizarin (red that leans towards violet) with Viridian or Thalo green blue-shade gives what I want (a cool red-green complement that leans ever so slightly towards blue for foliage shadows), while mixing alizarin with Thalo green yellow-shade or any of the yellow-greens gives me mud: the mud is produced by the complements of the red-green and the violet-yellow mingling.

This little "rule" of mine shows me although I can certainly mix 3 pigments together to increase my options, I have to be that much more careful in considering how many colors are actually being intermingled: ultramarine blue with the alizarin and viridian gives an excellent neutral that can be pushed toward any of its components: however, replace the viridian with a green that leans to yellow, and mud results with a resounding thud.

And of course, one has to always consider pigment transparency when mixing anything.

impressionist2
12-27-2001, 09:53 AM
Strictly dealing with portraits, my formula for preventing mud is a limited palette. Usually very limited as two thirds of the painting can be flesh and clothing colors. So, I establish my complimentary scheme beforehand and stick with variations of that combo all the way through the painting. If it is red/green ( others include orange/blue), those combinations are carried throughout the painting.

The greys are also a combo of that color scheme and create beautiful greys.

It is amazing how many colors one can produce from a simple complimentary color scheme and almost never wind up with mud. I have an impressionist art background and I always have been awed at the repetition of the complimentary scheme in immpressionist paintings.

Renee

Einion
12-27-2001, 09:55 PM
Patrick, I was going to include my definition of mud which I put differently but is essentially the same as yours, I think the accepted definition for everyone would be something very similar.

Originally posted by Domer
This is getting interesting! But doesn't "chromatically complex" simply mean that a colour is closer to black (or grey?) than a 'pure' pigment or mixture of the same relative hue?
Sort of, closer to grey (neutral) is technically correct if perhaps a little misleading. What I meant by chromatically-complex or 'dirty' colours are those that reflect quite a bit of other, non-analogous, hues in addition to the dominant hue. As we all know, almost all pigments reflect at least some unrelated incident light, usually bunched around the dominant hue - which accounts for undercolour/masstone differences and colour leaning or bias - but in the case of colours with strong spikes in reflectance elsewhere in the spectrum (e.g. like blue in a red or orange in a green). To give specific pigment examples, in addition to yellow light Cadmium Yellow Medium has a strong orange reflectance and a fair amount of green and red also (the whole cadmium family are relatively dirty in a similar way) while on the other hand Azo Yellow Light has a fair green reflectance but little orange or red, hence the former is considered 'dirty' and the latter 'clean'.

While to some extent you can eyeball whether a colour is clean or dirty (assuming good lighting and colour vision of course) it can be difficult like in the case of Bismuth Vanadate which looks very clean but is not.

So even though it may look complex (difficult to describe) it can easily be defined by its co-ordinates on a colour wheel or 3-dimensional colour model?
Remember the coordinates or the hue-angle of a given pigment indicate only the dominant masstone hue, they tell you little about the more complex aspects of the colour. A good example would be Alizarin Crimson which has a specific Munsell hue, 8.9R or hue-angle roughly in the low 20s, but this does not predict its striking dual-nature with its much warmer undercolour.

On the other hand a typical magenta has a very similar masstone and undercolour hue-angle.

I also think that since most of the complex colours are warm (at least to my eyes), some of their complexity can be arttributed to the fact that it's relatively difficult to identify the relative hue of desaturated warm colours?
Good theory but not all dirty colours are warm, Cerulean Blue is dirty (significant green reflectance but a little violet and yellow also) as is Chromium Oxide Green and there are others. While it may be true that it is hard to distinguish the hue of desaturated warm colours, these are not necessarily desaturated colours, cad yellows are among the most chromatic of all paints.

BTW, with practice and or/training most people can learn to distinguish hue very much better than your average person (or the same person before the practice/training). I'm firmly convinced that like a lot of things it's just a skill that can be picked up, like good pitch (again assuming good colour vision as a starting point). As someone once said, you have to see a colour first to be able to mix it, once you can discern subtle hue differences you can then learn how your colours interact and use them to mix close matches to what you see.

Originally posted by impressionist2
...my formula for preventing mud is a limited palette.
While a limited palette is a help I think it's important to realise that one can quite easily still mix mud with one, if this were not the case then someone using such a palette couldn't mix a good soil colour for example :-) A much better idea for the long term is an understanding of what happens colour-wise to make muddy colour.

Take a realist nude in warm lighting on a cool drape as an example; you could use Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine, Chromium Oxide Green, Viridian, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and Ivory Black just for the skintones and get no mud at all.

Einion

Mario
12-28-2001, 08:39 PM
O.K. I will have to go back to my instructor and ask him to repeat the experiment that I observed..but I did see what I think I saw which was compliments making nice light chroma mixtures without mud.
I don't understand Einion's statements because there seems to be a contradiction within them..ie:
in describing what would produce a muddy misture;
"In the spirit of an exception disproving a rule:
1, Cadmium Red Medium and Chromium Oxide Green "
(While the above combo would produce mud, the one below wouldn't?)
"Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine,Chromium Oxide Green,-" just for the skintones and get no mud at all.
Anyway, as I reported, recently when I find myself producing mud, I simularly notice that I am combining two pigments of very different values..in thinking more about this, I also remember that at least one of the pigments is usually an "earth" color. ie: Indian red, raw umber, yellow ochre...well, we are getting closer, I hope, to defining the culprit.:cool:

Patrick1
12-29-2001, 03:15 AM
Ignore this message (re-did it in the next message).

Patrick1
12-29-2001, 03:21 AM
Einion, you seem to be saying that chromatic complexity in pigments and mixtures are what produce mud, yet that other colours can be chromatically complex, yet still be clean-looking, i.e. the cadmiums, right? I don't understand how a colour like bismuth vanadate yellow can look very clean, yet is not (although its dull mixing...at least Liquitex's version...means that there must be something to it).

You said that colours can be dirty when they reflect other, non analgous colours other than their dominant hue. You said:

"...Azo Yellow Light has a fair green reflectance but little orange or red..."

But looking at its reflectance, it reflects lots of red:

http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/waterfs.html

(I tried to get a link to the actual chart, but I can only get a link to the main pigment page).
We all know that yellows reflect very much red light, including the 'cleanest' yellows, like the hansa yellows. So what gives?

You said:

"Cadmium Yellow Medium has a strong orange reflectance and a fair amount of green and red also (the whole cadmium family are relatively dirty in a similar way)..."

But I don't know how this is any different than any other clean yellows like the azos.

And if the cadmiums are dirty because they reflect lots of light other than their main hue, then this would make them look lighter in value...perhaps whitish. Yet with the exception of maybe cad. lemon or primrose, none look whitish to me at all..in fact the cad reds look darker than, say the nearest pyrrole red 'equivalent'.

You also seem to be saying that a spikey reflectance curve can make a colour dirty (either to the eye or only chromatically). Looking at the reflectance curves on the Handprint website, I can't find any colour that is spikey-looking. Raw umber, for example, (a very dirty-looking colour) doesn't have a spikey or complex-looking reflectance curve at all...in fact it's almost a straight line.

From what I've read, even the most complex-looking hues can be described and reproduced by simply varying proportions and brightness of red, green, and blue light. So then how can their dirtyness (or beautiful complexity for others, like the colours I mentioned in my last post) be attributed to a 'spikey' or complex reflectance curve?

Einion
12-31-2001, 02:39 AM
I assure you there is no contradiction between my two posts. Firstly just try mixing any two good complementary pairs of your own to a point about midway between them - in no case will you get a bright result.

In the latter post I didn't mean to imply one would use all those colours at once!!! Let me see, of the colours I listed:
a flesh highlight might be Titanium White, Cadmium Red Light and a little Yellow Ochre;
a halftone might include these colours with Cerulean Blue and Chromium Oxide Green;
a cool dark might include Titanium White, Cadmium Red Light, Yellow Ochre, Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine (a basic flesh midtone with added Ultramarine);
a basic dark might be Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red Light and Lamp Black with a touch of white
and
the blush around the knees or buttocks might be Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Permanent Alizarin Crimson with just a hint of Cerulean Blue.

Hope this clears things up.

Einion.

Einion
12-31-2001, 08:48 PM
Originally posted by Domer
Einion, you seem to be saying that chromatic complexity in pigments and mixtures are what produce mud...
Okay, I'll try to clear this up: chromatically-simple (clean) colours produce cleaner mixtures, chromatically-complex (dirty) colours produce dirtier mixtures. Let's try a theoretical mixing experiment, we'll take two reds, a cadmium red and Pyrrole Red, PR254 - these can be found with precisely the same hue, plus similar value - and mix them with a known violet-blue like Ultramarine. Only considering masstone, would you expect them to mix similar violets? Anyone who has used both will correctly predict PR254 will mix cleaner violets. There are other worthwhile examples but this is perhaps the best as it can be hard to find two colours with the same hue-angle that are this close in value.

You have seen for yourself that a colour can look clean, be saturated and not produce the cleanest mixtures - remember that how a colour looks in masstone is no guarantee of how it will react in mixtures, you have to know more about it. Take Cadmium Red Light and Vermilion for example, they can look very similar in masstone (nearly identical in some cases apparently) and are roughly equal in opacity but be miles apart in how they react in mixes - Vermilion being cleaner chromatically produces much cleaner tints, which is why you can't use the former as a direct substitute for the latter.

If we take Bismuth Vanadate, it's not that simple two-colour mixes with it are especially dirty, but they are not as clean as the oranges mixed with Cad Yellow Medium or the greens mixed with Azo Yellow Light for example, yet all of these yellows are in the same ball-park with regards saturation.

I didn't remember the reflectance curve for PY3 on the Handprint site but looking at it, it's quite different in both how it is displayed and in the curve it indicates, to the other example I have seen for this colour, which is what I was going on. It showed a peak in the yellow and a distinct falloff in the orange-to-red part of the spectrum.

As to me referring to spikes in the reflectance curves this term is a holdover from other interests and it may not be entirely accurate here. The Handprint author refers to, "In addition, even saturated color surfaces reflect diffuse humps or bumps across a fairly wide range of related wavelengths" which is almost certainly a better way of talking about it. You might have plotted graphs in maths or physics class in school where you smoothed the curve between the points of the data, if I understand it correctly this is similar to what is done here (see figure 1). This is possibly like viewing a piece of music at different magnifications in sound editing software - it can look smooth when you see the whole thing across the screen but study portions in detail and they are very irregular. It might be that we are sensitive to these small spikes and troughs in reflectance, but to be honest this is getting into an area I don't know much about.

And if the cadmiums are dirty because they reflect lots of light other than their main hue, then this would make them look lighter in value...perhaps whitish.
That's a very good point, in the case of yellows this does bring them closer to white but generally you were closer before when you said colours might look greyer (see figure 2). The area below the dashed line is essentially reflected white light but this is only amounts to about 10% of the incident light (the equivalent of roughly a value 3 grey) so this drops the chroma of the colour. If you look at the overall curve you can probably guess this is the reflectance for a dark-valued, slightly unsaturated red-violet, something very like Quinacridone Violet. BTW notice if you drew a similar line across figure 1, there would be a distinct peak at about 520nm.

From what I've read, even the most complex-looking hues can be described and reproduced by simply varying proportions and brightness of red, green, and blue light.
This is muddying the waters somewhat but it's important to remember that red, green and blue do not make true white light, just a good analogue of it (see figures 3 and 4). And RGB monitors are not a good example to go on as they are shifted strongly towards blue typically (hence their limited gamut).

All of this boils down to something I think is best expressed by this quote from the Handprint site: color can be conceptualized simply, or accurately, but not both.

Phew, my head hurts!
Einion

Patrick1
01-01-2002, 06:11 AM
Einion, as to your comparison between cad. red medium and pyrrole red for mixing violets; it seems that spectral cleanliness matters to mixing. But what about undertone? If they have similar undertones, going by colour bias theory alone, one would expect similar purples. So colour bias theory by itself is not the answer.

So it seems like if a colour looks clean yet isn't clean chromatically, it's that its reflectance curve has the overall ideal shape for that hue (or close to it), yet has small peaks and dips which cannot be noticed by looking at it, but reveal themselves when mixed with other colours;
the mixed colour is even more complex and dirty than either of the two original colours.

Regarding the reflectance curves on the Handprint site, if you haven't found them (I just found out recently) that where you have the technical descriptions of various pigments, clicking on the little rectangular spectrum symbol on the left will show the reflectance curve for that pigment.

I thought that these curves were the actual exact reflectance curves because I can't find anywhere it saying that these are 'smoothed out' cuves. But I was surprised at how they all seemed a bit too perfect; so I'm sure you're right.

That's very intersting about red, green and blue light (at least in practical terms) only approximating white light, or maybe more accurately, only averaging out to a flat curve.

Similarly, even lights in practise cannot mix every colour in maximum saturation. But you almost never hear this in the vast majority of trite colour theory explanations, yet it is so important. Just like they usually fail to mention that no three paints can mix all colours cleanly either. A vast over-simplification that is akin to teaching a new driver only: "red means stop, green means go" and then being surpried that he/she has major problems in the real world!

I read that a purely monospectral paint as well as light would be invisible. Paint I can understand; it would reflect such a narrow band
(infinitely narrow band) that the total light it would reflect would be so small it would be too dim to see. The handprint site says that the theoretically perfect primary lights would also be invisible. For the same reason? I thought lasers are monospectral, yet they are far from invisible (unless it's because they pack all their power into an infinitely narrow band).

Mario
01-03-2002, 05:24 AM
Thanks for the tutorial, fellows.:D

impressionist2
01-03-2002, 06:03 AM
I had this same lecture about spectral light when I took a workshop with Christian White ( architect Stanford White's great grandson). Most of the class was like, "Huh?"

Assuming all this is correct ( and I am willing to experiment), can one of you post a list of 'clean versus dirty' colors? Be that as it may, cadmiums provide a lot of "pizazz" that I hope won't be lost. However, I would trade that in for clean colors all the time.

Renee

diphascon
01-03-2002, 08:18 AM
I was a little late recognizing that this thread is interesting ... :)

Originally posted by Domer

So it seems like if a colour looks clean yet isn't clean chromatically, it's that its reflectance curve has the overall ideal shape for that hue (or close to it),


what is assumend to be the ideal shape of reflectance for a hue? I think no such thing exists. You can construct different spectra that the eye is not able to differentiate (e.g an orange light and a mixture of red and green light).

Originally posted by Domer

yet has small peaks and dips which cannot be noticed by looking at it, but reveal themselves when mixed with other colours;


I think a broad main peak can make the color 'dirty' as well.

Originally posted by Domer

That's very intersting about red, green and blue light (at least in practical terms) only approximating white light, or maybe more accurately, only averaging out to a flat curve.


It depends on your definition of 'white light'. If you define it as a perfect spectral noise of some kind, no such thing is normally seen anywhere (even the sunlight has Fraunhofer-lines and changes its spectral composition considerably with daytime and time of the year etc). If you define it as what the 'normal observer' would call 'white', a good red-green-blue mixture is as white as anything else.

Originally posted by Domer

I read that a purely monospectral paint as well as light would be invisible. Paint I can understand; it would reflect such a narrow band
(infinitely narrow band) that the total light it would reflect would be so small it would be too dim to see. The handprint site says that the theoretically perfect primary lights would also be invisible. For the same reason? I thought lasers are monospectral, yet they are far from invisible (unless it's because they pack all their power into an infinitely narrow band).


Where did you read that? If the emitted light has enough energy and is in an appropriate wavelength band there is no reason why it should not be absorbed by our eye pigments, no matter how monochromatic it may be. But when using such a light for illumnation, everything has either a lighter or darker shade of one single color or is black.

cheers

martin

Patrick1
01-03-2002, 04:24 PM
Martin, here's where I read about the ideal reflectance for a certain hue (with paints):

http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color4.html

On the right, click on "subtractive colour mixing" and then scroll down a bit until you see the "ideal reflectance curve" diagrams. I would define the "ideal reflectance profile" as that which will give maximum saturation for that particular hue in paints.

As to the definition of a 'pure' white light, I would think that it would be a perfectly flat line, though I could be wrong. But as Einion showed in his last post, and as you know, light can appear as perfectly white to the eye, yet have a very peaky profile. Whether or not this can be called pure white light? I guess that depends on the definition.

You're right that a monospectral light can be seen. I got the idea from the Handprint site (same page as my first link in this message). Near the bottom it says:

"...In order to make the model fit the facts of color vision, the "primaries" must be colors that
are so saturated they cannot be seen! (This occurs because there is no wavelength of light that stimulates only a single cone.)..."

I assumed the author meant that a monospectral light is invisible (my assumption was wrong). He seems to be saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that an extrememly pure (narrow band) of coloured light cannot be percieved in its full 'pureness' since it will never stimulate just one type of receptor cone (RGB).


I like the little question under your signature. I finally figured it out. Very clever. :)

LarrySeiler
01-05-2002, 09:27 AM
This is indeed a most interesting thread, and glad that llis began this one.

I've enjoyed reading the analysis. I'm curious to the type of painting that artists most frequently find themselves having to be concerned about "mud?"

Is this perhaps predominantly more a portraitist's problem, or would you argue painters in general?

I am, as JeffG described, one of those that works and operates under simplifying color theory as temperature. I use the basic colorwheel, however in application it is more the split primary, as I use a warm and cool of each primary. I added Verillian or Thalo Green because I was not satisfied with the greens I see in nature from my original palette, and because white is technically a cool pigment I often use Naples Yellow as a white substitute when painting outdoors.

I'm also wondering if avoiding mud is more likely when reacting to what one sees directly painting from life.

When I first started painting about 30 years ago, I copied prints (I know poor substitutes for the real thing), of Rembrandt and Frans Hals. Creating that Baroque effect, the Chiaroscuro and shading lent easily to the potential of creating mud. However, I haven't really struggled with that problem painting directly from life and I'm wondering if I somehow just avoided that because I had grown and developed or if there is something to painting from life? Thoughts on that?

Perhaps its my simpleton use of color theory by sticking with cool versus warm. I'm wondering if thinking of color in different terms while painting from life might not at times produce mud, and perhaps the color temperature approach most conveniently or naturally avoids it. Again, interested in thoughts....
-Larry

Mario
01-05-2002, 06:04 PM
Good question, I can add that it's most probably portraiture, like you thought, that is most problematic.

Einion
01-05-2002, 07:52 PM
Originally posted by lseiler
I'm curious to the type of painting that artists most frequently find themselves having to be concerned about "mud?"
That's a good question. In my experience it is much more common in watercolours and oils, where inadvertent mixes occur for the obvious reasons. One of the reasons I consider myself fortunate to have learned to use acrylics both when and how I did is that I had to mix the paint first and then use it, no wet-on-wet. It was good to get into the habit of mixing with a knife and not the brush too.

As for subject matter, from what I have seen of other people's work it is a fairly common problem (trying to nail the colour of a shadow on rock, weathered wood, etc.) but perhaps a little more likely to show up in portrait work as the subtle colours involved highlight errors so readily?

...because white is technically a cool pigment I often use Naples Yellow as a white substitute when painting outdoors.
A good point, and one I come across often when highlighting with an airbrush which is essentially like glazing with white which, as anyone who has tried it knows, has a pronounced cooling effect. For this reason I often use a mix of white and yellow to highlight reds and greens in particular as with some hues the addition of simply white does not match reality. There is an illustrator whose work I admire who uses white with Raw Sienna for the same reason.

Perhaps its my simpleton use of color theory by sticking with cool versus warm. I'm wondering if thinking of color in different terms while painting from life might not at times produce mud, and perhaps the color temperature approach most conveniently or naturally avoids it. Again, interested in thoughts....
-Larry
Nothing wrong with simplifying things if it works. I don't consciously think about colour theory in any technical way when I'm mixing, I just know this red earth and that blue, with a little black to lower value will mix just the violet I am looking for :)

Personally, ignoring accidents, I think it is over-mixing (i.e. simply adding too many colours) and fumbling about on the palette that leads to mud. I seem to remember my first painting teacher saying something along those lines and I have seen nothing since then that essentially contradicts him. This is why I think a good grounding in theory is helpful as it does lead to thinking about colour in different terms to how one did before - I know I make much fewer mistakes since learning colour-bias theory than ever I did before. Or you could substitute lots of experience screwing up for the theory so you know what do avoid! ;)

Einion

lori
01-06-2002, 11:27 AM
boy that is alot of theory on color "muddiness".

usually mud happens from overpainting, overworking colors into a canvas. the one experience i had with mud was when i was working wet on wet and couldn't get it "right", i obsessively worked until i turned the work into mud. time to scrape.

my point is all the theory here is moot if you don't remember one thing...

colors have an EXPLORATION (sic) date, as it were...go past it and its just like milk...they sour.

IMHO.

Mario
01-06-2002, 02:54 PM
Hi Lori, I'm sure you meant to say "EXPIRATION" date on the exploration. I agree, once over, sculpted and clear in one stroke NEVER EVER PRODUCED MUD. Thanks for the reminder, I'll go for this in the future.:D

LDianeJohnson
01-07-2002, 04:35 PM
Hi All,

A member in the forum wrote to tell me of the ongoing dialog here in response to my re-released article on "Mud". You folks have been busy! A great deal of good information and suggestions have been made by you all.

One of you asked the question, "What is the definition of mud?" Mud is a very subjective thing in painting, but you know it when you see it! This is my definition of what mud is: When whatever type of painting you are creating (be it tight and realistic or an impression of the subject) shifts, becoming duller and flatter than what your original color intent was, is considered mud -- whether a portrait or landscape.

Mud can be a gray, it can be brown... But all can be recovered. Yes, taking classes, reading a good book on color, videos are good. I suggest as an exercise adding more paint...sometimes it takes lots of paint to recover/achieve right the mix. Discovering what you can and can't do with color is a plus. But I recommend starting the mixture over again rather than wasting valuable paint (wet media), and with pastel, recover just by adding a few more intensely colored strokes of the hue you need to re-enliven an area.

Some artists are fortunate enough not to be given to mud. Most of us however, have had to learn by losing then regaining control of color. With lessons learned, color becomes an ally, not the enemy, or something to be feared.

Several of you have a great handle on the composition and characteristics of how pigments and paints are derived and made. This is an asset. The more you know about your tools, the better you can manipulate and make a direct, efficient color statement.

Mud can be achieved in several ways, many of which have been mentioned here. The key is, knowing how you arrived at the mud, how to recover the color if you overshoot it (sometimes you can, sometimes you can't depending on the mixture), and how you mix it "right on the money" next time. Just as dealing with intensity, value, temperature, and the like, mud is a condition that can involve all of these attributes.

At one time I limited my palette to learn how to control color effectively, but yes, I still produced mud just as easily from a limited palette as a broad one. The advantage is that I could follow my tracks better using a limited range of colors, get a firm grasp on how to use the few, then add back in colors as I needed them.

The reason I am so familiar with the subject ...when I went from portraits to landscapes, my palette was almost completely comprised of broken colors. Nothing wrong with this. Some artists work(ed) exclusively in tonal painting palettes. I wanted to learn how to use more intense color while maintaining the value, but kept creeping back into dull, not beautiful glowing grays/browns. Lessons learned have given me the confidence to mix whatever color I need. Having been in the graphic design business for many years using color was a bonus as well.

Oh, and one other aspect to all of this. You can never emulate what you see completely in paint. Our eye sees with a greater range of color that can be derived from paint. But half the fun is trying to push the painting media to it's farthest capability.

Keep up the good work!
Diane

Einion
01-07-2002, 06:41 PM
Originally posted by lori
...colors have an EXPLORATION (sic) date...
Good one! I must remember it! :clap:

Einion

impressionist2
01-08-2002, 08:49 AM
Diane wrote: "Mud can be a gray, it can be brown... But all can be recovered. Yes, taking
classes, reading a good book on color, videos are good. I suggest as an
exercise adding more paint...sometimes it takes lots of paint to
recover/achieve right the mix. Discovering what you can and can't do with
color is a plus. But I recommend starting the mixture over again rather than
wasting valuable paint (wet media), and with pastel, recover just by adding a
few more intensely colored strokes of the hue you need to re-enliven an area. "




Diane, This is an excellent explanation and advice on how to recover a painting. My portrait of my son and baby had gone dead in some areas and I thought that was it. I understand what you are saying about repainting and enlivening the area with the originally intended color and bringing it back to life.

Sometime's we really are too close to the forest to see the trees. Thanks.

Renee

LarrySeiler
01-12-2002, 08:55 AM
Don't mean to open a can of worms with this, but no doubt it may lead to interesting discussion. I just purchased recently Charles Hawthorne's book, "Hawthorne on Painting" and found it a book suggested to read on Diane's site....very good, and only about $5 from Amazon.com. It is a small paper back, and similar to Robert Henri's "Art Spirit" in the manner its written, though about 1/4th the size of "Art Spirit."

But....I came across an interesting quote of Hawthornes as to the "value" of using mud. Think we should find this interesting! Here are some of his thoughts on it-

page, 28-
"Don't be afraid of mixing your colors. Some of the most beautiful colors in a canvas are nothing but mud when taken away from their combination. To see a beautiful flesh tone against brilliant sand and to be able to recognize that a piece of mud color from the palette put against a brilliant yellow on the canvas will give the illusion of flesh on the beach--that takes an understanding which comes as a result of study." Hawthorne

I believe another way of thinking about this idea of it appearing as mud, away from the other colors by itself, but being perfect on canvas....is how other color tends to cast its influence upon neighboring analogous areas. A blue will look bluer by casting its complementary of orange onto neighboring colors, etc; That a neutral grey will appear to be a greener gray when painted next to reds....but may appear more violet in nature when painted near yellows.

In his "experience" mud created the perfect flesh tones when used in combination of other surrounding color.

It was either Paul Strisek or Kevin MacPherson, that recommended scraping dirty paint to one end of his palette, mixing it up into a neutral "mud" that could be used as needed later throughout the painting. I too, come to think of it, began doing that from time to time....and just applied "mud" as it were in areas that I believe made my yellows and greens look more like the sun was hitting foilage in my current "Peshtigo" river work I have posted on the "Landscape" forum.

Believe me, I don't share this to discredit Diane, or anyone...but, it is "Hawthorne" here that made me think, and though we would generally outright denounce mud....I must admit that I have found use for it now that reading Hawthorne's words brings that to light. -Larry
-Larry

LDianeJohnson
01-12-2002, 09:36 AM
I love this Larry! Instead of avoiding or fearing mud, work with it head-on. Bingo. Great find and information. If we view mud as a "neutral" used selectively and wisely it can be boon, not a disaster to a painting.

Most artists agree that one way to create outstanding juicy color is to surround it with neutrals and apply colorful "notes". Otherwise everything is screaming for attention. Just be sure it's nice looking, appropriate mud for the application, you can always adjust mud to be cooler, warmer, etc. :)

Thanks for your message,
Diane

LarrySeiler
01-12-2002, 09:51 AM
"appropriate mud" is a great way of stating it....

now, the debate for others could be on defining "appropriate"...
hahahaha.....as for me, I think I'll just work on painting more "acres of canvas", as Hawthorne says. Take care, and great thread btw!

Larry

impressionist2
01-12-2002, 09:52 AM
Larry and Diane, I tend to make greys out of complimentary colors to keep them beautiful but I can appreciate what Hawthorne is saying and see how it could work.

For instance, anytime a painting gets too colorful ( and we have all seen them ), to see the greys placed strategically is a wonderful thing and calms down the painting, makes it more pleasing to the eye. So, in small doses, "mud" probably works great too.

The trick is being experienced enough to know where to place them and not allow them to take over the painting.

Renee

LarrySeiler
01-12-2002, 10:06 AM
Originally posted by impressionist2
The trick is being experienced enough to know where to place them and not allow them to take over the painting.

Renee


very true Renee....very true. Hawthorne, in insisting to let the painting happen would add only that by painting acres and acres of canvas, the artist will learn and know this mastery. Will gain this "experience."

Larry

LarrySeiler
01-13-2002, 12:02 PM
Turns out in our discussions, another artist has brought to light Charles Hawthorne's assistant, Henry Hensche...who evidently did more to materialize Hawthorne's teachings in his own painting than Hawthorne himself.

There is a website called the Henry Hensche Foundation, and a page brings up a bio on Henry, in that is a link that literally brings up a portrait of an individual that generalizes the term, "Mudheads"....

http://www.thehenschefoundation.org/

Evidently using "Mud" was a practice for painting flesh tones, and here is a link that brings you to this example directly-
http://www.thehenschefoundation.org/Mudhead.jpg

I found it interesting....

Larry

cobalt fingers
01-13-2002, 04:02 PM
I think if you think it looks like mud- it's mud. Scrap it off add a touch of thalo and put it into a film vial for later use...it won't be mud next time.


Boy you guys know a lot about color!:cat:

impressionist2
01-14-2002, 06:53 AM
Larry, I would heartily agree that the painting is a "Mudhead" ......and I would say that is not a good thing. He looks like a mudhead!:D


Many wonderful painters have emerged from Hensche's Cape Cod School of art. However, I am not overly fond of the intense spinoff of that school, a group of artists that paint what I call the sherbert colors.

Here's an interesting article with links:
http://www.tfaoi.com/newsm1/n1m288.htm

Renee

LarrySeiler
01-14-2002, 07:56 AM
Wow Renee, thanks for the link! Really enjoyed it and bookmarked it.

Makes me feel like I have been reinventing the wheel, and that I've been unfortunate not to have been able to take advantage of some of this teaching, even schooling earlier in life.

I went to the school of "hard knocks" and "good luck!" and the state university of "we'll have none of that here!" and just happened by painting to develop now to where I am. I'm going to continue to study about these early movements, potentially living students and influence. It will make looking at work more interesting, and perhaps help realize who is painting what, because of why...and whom.

As for the mudhead...I think there are enough subtle colors in the shadows that the shadow works. It doesn't call a lot of attention to itself, allowing for surrounding light to seem brilliant. Something that is difficult for pigment to do...

I checked out some of the landscapes of Hensche's last night, and they seem a bit exaggerated in some of their color when I consider what I see at this present time when observing nature.

What thought amused me though, is that more observance and learning usually sensitizes the eye to see more than others. OFten, my painting students will have dead color on a rock or something...and I'll ask, "don't you see the influence of all that surrounding foilage color reflecting of the rock's surface as well as the sky?" they look at me like, "huh...?"...and I'll say, "gosh, I see greens and variations of cool blues, violet...on that rock!"

"You do?????" they come back....and then a small huddle of kids assemble by that time, until a few pipe in, "yeah...I see it" and "me too....I ssss-sorta see it!"

That makes me wonder if Hensche's eye developed some accute sensitivity and I'm still not seeing it? At the same time, I don't want to push beyond what I am seeing just to satiate some painting system. That would lack integrity on my part, and make me more a system/academic painter than learning to truly "see!"

At any time...y'all can look at some of my current plein air landscapes at my site, or even my in-studio ones that are based often upon plein air studies...and tell me your thoughts. I think I'm gettin' there....wherever "there" is! hahahaha.....

Larry
go to- http://www.artsmentor.org

LDianeJohnson
01-14-2002, 08:52 AM
Dear Renee,

Good link and description you posted.

<A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1581800614/wetcanvas/002-7581203-0562460"><IMG SRC="http://www.ldianejohnson.com/critiqueshop/books/c_susan.gif" WIDTH=118 HEIGHT=151 VSPACE=3 HSPACE=8 BORDER=0 ALIGN=left>Capturing Radiant Color in Oils</A>

I think Susan Sarback's book is a good, brief, single-volume study on "seeing color". On page 4 she shows and describes at a glance the different painting color types, from painting with "Local Color" and "Color Theory" to "Expressive Color" and "Full-Color Seeing" -- 7 approachs in all. Of course, the bulk of the book covers full-color seeing, but at the very least you can find out where your work fits as well as understand how she can see to paint her vibrant, juicy-color paintings.

I agree with Larry. After reading her book I sensed that she really can see more color than most people. But there is also a degree of pumping of colors to achieve their intensity. No judgements here, I enjoy the fiery glow of these paintings if well crafted.

Although I do not paint using this method anything I can do to help myself to "see" better is reflected in my work and builds confidence while painting.

Diane

llis
01-14-2002, 09:55 AM
Seeing color and living with color is something else to consider.

I have Susan Sarback's book and have several friends who think this is the way to go, but I differ. I can see what she talks about and how she perceives color, but I don't like the end result at all.

Susans paintings are full of wild tense colors that give me an uneasy feeling when I look at them. It's almost like I have on trick glasses. I much prefer the real world colors, but of course this is my humble opinon. I think there is much to learn by reading Susan's book, but I, for one, don't want to go there, or live in her world. :)

I'm glad I have my eyes and not hers. It would scare me to death with or without mud. :)

LDianeJohnson
01-14-2002, 10:24 AM
Originally posted by llis
Seeing color and living with color is something else to consider.

I have Susan Sarback's book ... I can see what she talks about and how she perceives color, but I don't like the end result at all.

...I much prefer the real world colors ... I, for one, don't want to go there, or live in her world....

I'm glad I have my eyes and not hers. It would scare me to death with or without mud. :)

Excellent point Llis. Most of the value I derived from Susan's writing was realizing that I too, prefer natural color -- I want to see better, and paint what I see better. That's a good thing (as Martha would say.) No more following another's style, method or following someone else's dictates of what painting should be. It's very freeing to arrive in a place where you can just paint, what you want, however you want.

Paint what you like and like what you paint...with our without mud. Then when you do make "mud", it will be intentional, deliberate and be there for a reason.

LarrySeiler
01-14-2002, 06:59 PM
I've been spending a good deal of time lately querying stuff on Hensche, and names of students of his. Then, checking out websites showing some of their work.

Check out this work by Camille Przewodek, which is truly great work...
http://www.przewodek.com/index.html

I'm a bit...well, torn. I truly believe this is good stuff, I mean the idea of Hawthorne's and Hensche's to further the studies of Monet and the tradition of light, color, etc;

My impression of many of the landscapes, seascapes, missions, etc., of some of these painters (even Camille's) is that half of them will strike me as emiting great emotion of a mix of light/sun and realism, leaving your mouth hanging open and your stomach in your throat...and heart tossed out on the ground somewhere. Just awesome!

Whereas the other half of images seem to tweak every ounce of color possible...that it takes something away from the real. THEN...it struck me, they looked like the backdrops that cartoonists/animators use for Disney movies. Very colorful. Emiting strong emotion. Not real...but fantasy.

Some of these paintings you swear you can feel the sweat of the afternoon's sun beginning to bead up on your forehead as you look at a Southwest seen. Others, I suddenly expect Aladdin or Lion King to appear.

I don't mean that disrespectfully, as this isn't about painters not being able to paint...just that not all of the ideology of thought is something I'm able to embrace if such work is fully representative of Hensche's influence.

So, that tells me there is something definitely to be gained studying these works, and thinking on the lines I have been. Perhaps snatch up old books where possible and everything else, yet I'm likely (and intending guardedly) to take only what would continue to appease the painterliness, the colorism, and realism that being outdoors triggers in my spirit. Closing my eyes and going into my mind's eye, picturing places I stood and studied/painted, I can't find the justifcation to so far demarcate from the "ah-hah!" that would have drawn me to that place.

To overstate it, and overemphasize it at least for me here and now, would nearly seem to insult the sanctity of the moment as though I have a better idea. Sure, I understand artistic license, and I understand and practice improvements to composition...but I'm striving to attain the beauty that captivates my soul as it is, without trying to go beyond such essence as though there were yet more. Don't know if I'm explaining that sufficiently or not.

Larry

impressionist2
01-14-2002, 08:25 PM
Diane, Ilis and Larry, I too, own Susan Sarback's book. Bought it years ago, along with Lois Griffels and Charles Sovek's books. I stayed in that phase for a while, enamoured of the Cape Cod School of Light. At present I am in love with the old masters and the transparent darks.

I think each school of art has it's charm and we learn something important from each one. Hopefully , it enhances and influences our work, which is all about discovering our own style. If we take a little of it with us when we move on, we are the better for it.

Larry, I tried to access your plein air paintings, but the link would not work.

What I have found is that when I am stuck somewhere, on line, or waiting, I start really "looking" at objects or people ( well, one can't stare too long at people without a problem!). I try to "see" all the colors I can. I believe we can train our eyes to "see more color" and I know exactly what you mean about that rock, Larry. There's a myriad of color there. I'll bet you learn so much while you teach.

Renee

LarrySeiler
01-14-2002, 08:41 PM
Hhhmmm....you're right Renee....the site did work earlier today. Some upgrades going on with my host server, I know that.

I had problems getting into my ftp server maintenance page earlier, and the word was they were going to look into it, and try to fix it. I suppose that's what's going on. Hopefully it'll be back up and on soon.

My work can be accessed thru our sister site here, though I have a few plein air works not posted there, there are about 90 works-

http://lseiler.artistnation.com

Larry

llis
01-14-2002, 09:39 PM
Originally posted by lseiler
I've been spending a good deal of time lately querying stuff on Hensche, and names of students of his. Then, checking out websites showing some of their work.

Check out this work by Camille Przewodek, which is truly great work...
http://www.przewodek.com/index.html

I'm a bit...well, torn. I truly believe this is good stuff, I mean the idea of Hawthorne's and Hensche's to further the studies of Monet and the tradition of light, color, etc;

My impression of many of the landscapes, seascapes, missions, etc., of some of these painters (even Camille's) is that half of them will strike me as emiting great emotion of a mix of light/sun and realism, leaving your mouth hanging open and your stomach in your throat...and heart tossed out on the ground somewhere. Just awesome!

Whereas the other half of images seem to tweak every ounce of color possible...that it takes something away from the real. THEN...it struck me, they looked like the backdrops that cartoonists/animators use for Disney movies. Very colorful. Emiting strong emotion. Not real...but fantasy.

Some of these paintings you swear you can feel the sweat of the afternoon's sun beginning to bead up on your forehead as you look at a Southwest seen. Others, I suddenly expect Aladdin or Lion King to appear.

I don't mean that disrespectfully, as this isn't about painters not being able to paint...just that not all of the ideology of thought is something I'm able to embrace if such work is fully representative of Hensche's influence.

So, that tells me there is something definitely to be gained studying these works, and thinking on the lines I have been. Perhaps snatch up old books where possible and everything else, yet I'm likely (and intending guardedly) to take only what would continue to appease the painterliness, the colorism, and realism that being outdoors triggers in my spirit. Closing my eyes and going into my mind's eye, picturing places I stood and studied/painted, I can't find the justifcation to so far demarcate from the "ah-hah!" that would have drawn me to that place.

To overstate it, and overemphasize it at least for me here and now, would nearly seem to insult the sanctity of the moment as though I have a better idea. Sure, I understand artistic license, and I understand and practice improvements to composition...but I'm striving to attain the beauty that captivates my soul as it is, without trying to go beyond such essence as though there were yet more. Don't know if I'm explaining that sufficiently or not.

Larry

Thanks for the link Larry. You're right...lots of really wonderful stuff there. One thing that did strike me as I looked at lots of paintings (without calling names) is how much they looked like the paintings I did as a teenager using the paint by numbers kits that Santa left me. I mean no disrespect either, because these folks are WAY beyond anything I can do or ever will do, but some of them do look a bit "paint by numbers" and disjointed. I think it might be because they are striving for that "color technique".

Interesting to me as well is how my eye jumping from painting to painting found the color palette thread weaving it's way from canvas to canvas. This is another great lesson in finding your color palette and sticking to it. If it works, it works. :)

I love to study color!

bluochre
01-15-2002, 02:31 AM
larry, llis and others. . .
when one studied with hensche, one spent days painting blocks of color at various moments and under varying conditions. one accomplished and known artist recently told me that she spent an entire summer with hensche painting nothing but blocks. i do believe that before deciding that there is more fantasy than light reality in a given work, one must do the gritty work of painting the colored blocks under varying conditions. the experience is humbling. i mean humbling. as the musician works with scales and studies, hensche expected the painter to work with the colored blocks. not merely to learn, but as an ongoing practice to develop one's ability to see color.

using the traditional hensche (monet) palette, and a painting knife, one gains a greater understanding of the light and color another might call fantasy light and colors when viewing a particular painting.

and, may i add, the QUALITY OF LIGHT is something which brings the magic to many of the paintings you might consider fantasy. it happens that the QUALITY OF LIGHT at cape cod, in the southwest, in northern california, and among other locations, allows the painter to SEE the saturated colors and the many subtle nuances others might interpret as fantasy. the trees i have painted on cape cod are so very different from the trees i paint in upstate ny or in vermont. not because they are different trees, there is a very distinct LIGHT QUALITY on cape cod. we might need the help of a meteorologist to help clarify this condition. i believe that is why hawthorne settled at provincetown originally - due to the light quality.

bluochre

llis
01-15-2002, 07:41 AM
:)

I agree, bluochre, the "light" does have a lot to do with how your eyes see and your final painting.

I had the opportunity to visit and paint in Monet's gardens in 2000 and believe me, I saw first hand how different the "light" was. :) As a matter of fact, I traveled with Diane Johnson, who was the instructor for the workshop I took. Great experience.

I live in Georgia. Everything is green in the spring, summer, half the fall and in the winter brown. Still here, I see color, but not even half of what I saw in France. It is amazing how different regions capture light and spill it out to those that seek.

Thanks for the comment about the blocks. Actually, you have given me an idea that I think I will try. I'm going to make some blocks, paint them various colors, and then pack them in my suitcase. Don't laugh if I post an image of my green block at 2 o'clock. :) and you can't tell it is 2 o'clock. I have the fever, I love the hunt. I won't give up. And, you are right, even if I never succeed, I will enjoy seeing that others have been successful and understand why.

LarrySeiler
01-15-2002, 09:15 AM
Hey Blueocre...
certainly not intending to belittle or minimize the good of the Cape Cod school. I am somewhat in awe of the experience and those that had a chance to experience it. Wish I had that.

I also understand the demands of learning placed upon musicians by means of metaphor. We are all trying to understand more here, and hope somehow it steps us up a level in our work.

Taking that metaphor a bit further, I play blues guitar. I had a guitar player in the 80's that played in a blues/rock band I was in. He was a graduate from GIT in Minneapolis, and was a prodigy of theirs. They featured him playing a double necked guitar that he built on one of the annual school catalogs. The guy was simply amazing, but one day asked me if I would take time to teach him some stuff on playing blues. He was a metal maniac, and a blazing fire on the guitar.

In the van on the way to gigs, he would warm up and do appegios and scales, appegios and scales. To nail the gazillion notes he'd play live between measures, he had to play nearly 5 hours a day.

When he asked me to show him how to play blues, I nearly fell over. I was in awe of his talent. Yet, what he learned by the discipline of studies and rote, and practice...all I'm sure humbling for him as well....was how to nail a thing down.

Blues, on the other hand does not come by any presumption or prior anticipation. When Eric Clapton was asked what goes thru his head just before doing a guitar solo, he said that he had no idea what he was going to play, but that it would come when he struck the first note.

Its a feeling. A state of mind. Sensing of an emotion.

So, as I relate to these color blocks you mention, and that they are exercises to help see. I think of the appegios and scales that are designed to help a musician play. Yet, they are not necessarily empowering to help the creative "feel."

Kevin MacPherson offered a tip once that I found useful, and that was in order to see or "sense" a color in one mass, look at an adjacent area and judge it peripherally.

There is also the old saying, that if everything is shouting..."nothing" gets heard. I wonder, when the painter is constructing his work, and hoping that the work works as a whole...if tweaking color everywhere doesn't work against the soloing voice concept...that is, voices are being heard everywhere..?

That is why I think some of the works don't seem to work. When I am standing before nature and the "ah-hah!" grabs me and says I must paint to discover the secret of the beauty hidden there, I am aware as I paint bit by bit what is NOT contributing and responsible for causing the "ah-HAH!" to be felt. So, I find myself guarded to intentionally hold back. What that is like is, the guitar solo time is not the time for the keyboardist to play out, or the harmonica player to wail.

Again...I like most the stuff...some stuff I think is done because it seems like the discipline and rote of learning begs for it.

hope that makes sense as I labor to understand it myself....

Larry

impressionist2
01-15-2002, 10:36 AM
Larry, Your landscapes are not only beautiful they have a real "finish" to them. Especially the homepage painting-beautiful and the Elk creek paintings and "Loyjack Lake"- am I getting these names right? I am a "lake" person and these paintings make me feel that I am there.

Bet these took longer than some of those slap dash plein air paintings that drive the founders of the plein air groups crazy. Say, Larry, I think I have seen your posts on NAPPAP , along with Dianes, come to think of it. Ninety paintings is a nice body of work.

Renee

bluochre
01-15-2002, 11:30 AM
larry stated:
"So, as I relate to these color blocks you mention, and that they are exercises to help see. I think of the appegios and scales that are designed to help a musician play. Yet, they are not necessarily empowering to help the creative "feel."

Kevin MacPherson offered a tip once that I found useful, and that was in order to see or "sense" a color in one mass, look at an adjacent area and judge it peripherally. "

- - - - -

I agree with both your statements. wise indeed !


just a note for anyone interested in painting blocks:

start with maybe five: white, red, blue, green, yellow. the blocks themselves might be 4 or 5 inch ends of 2x4's which you paint with the acrylics. perhaps you might arrange them as a still life composition, allowing light to touch one side while another side is in shadow. perhaps 2 blocks on one level, 2 others atop those, and the 1 remaining atop those two. simplicity is composition is important. no reason to get complicated. the real point is to view the tops of each block, one side of each block in light, and one side of each block in shadow. of course, there will be cast shadows....

bluochre

LarrySeiler
01-15-2002, 11:46 AM
Thanks Renee...

The more finished looking pieces may have been done in-studio, but I try to arrive at a satisfying "finished" look with each painting done on location or not.

I substitute nailing down the impression of color and light that affects me on a plein air piece to say "I got it!", whereas a leaning toward draftsmanship and rendering feels more natural in-studio to get that feeling. I think less demands of immediacy from an elusive moment outdoors seems to naturally cause one to depend on a labored effort.

So, I tend to produce two different looking paintings from those done outdoors to those done indoors. I have no more problem with that than feeling disloyal for playing two different sports.

However, I feel more the "painter" and something else in me feels gratification outdoors.

Learning to suggest with less, yet attain more. It speaks of economy and mastery.

There are subtle colors that I see painting outdoors that subordinate and allow for the eye to move and take in the "spirit" of the scene. I enjoyed painting Elk Creek...as it was early spring. The snow was out only a week or so before and the hint of coming fresh growth was beginning to be seen.

I'm going to post 'em in a new thread to continue this discussion of color, and Hensche....

Larry

henry
06-12-2003, 02:55 PM
in painting, all color has its place. mud is a name given to a color that doesn't have a formal name. we have Green gray mud we have brown mud, all sorts of neutrals can be called mud. muds can be maded to look like pure colors in paintings if they are placed next to the right colors. everything is seen in relation to what is next to it and everything in your field of vision.
if mud is put next to pure colors it looks like mud if it is put next to neutral gray it looks like a definite color. that is the majic tool of painting. knowing how to use mud to creat the illusion of purity.
Attempts to paint using pure colors is extremely limiting and the results are
usually garish or unbelievable... as far as reality is concerned. It is the way two colors lying beside each other works that is the concern of a painter, not the business of being a color bigot and labeling perfectly good colors as "mud"

Mario
06-15-2003, 10:44 AM
Here's MUD in your eye !

henry
06-15-2003, 01:06 PM
These images are of two Hensche paintings
the same subject done at different times of day
I took samples of colors to isolate them against
a gray background in order to show the variety
some pure, some mud.

LDianeJohnson
06-16-2003, 09:25 AM
Good conversation here regarding the topic of "mud."

The previous two examples posted here of paintings that could be considered muddy are not. There is a tremendous difference between a muddy, broken-colored work that has lost it's ability to "read" correctly as a painting.

What we have here is clear, clean neutrals, not mud. In the hands of a capable painter, achieving these clear colors is one who has mastered controlling color. This is particularly true of the artist who can use neutrals in tandem with more intense, pure hues to gain the maximum visual benefit.

Diane

WFMartin
06-22-2003, 10:21 AM
I think "mud" is a relative phenomenon, and, as someone on this forum once said, is more a result of inappropriate TONE placement than of inappropriate color mixing.

We who consider ouselves to be painters of realism are quite aware that bright, garish colors are seldom found in nature. Most everything in the natural world is fundamentally gray (neutral), with many times only the slightest hint of a specific hue. A rock, a tree trunk, a "green" leaf, are some examples of these just-off-gray colors.

If painting neutral (or nearly neutral) colors is the definition of "mud" then most us purposely mix mud all the time. Sometimes when viewing another artist's grisaille underpainting, we "oooh" and "aaah" at that artist's work, commenting that it looks so good it would be a shame to add color to it. Well, that underpainting is TOTAL "mud" if the definition of mud is "neutrality".

On the other hand, if you have placed gray colors where a bright, orange sunset sky ought to be, or have placed a grayed color on the highlight of a shiny, metal teapot, that's mud. There's nothing wrong with having mixed those grayed colors--they're just in the wrong place in the painting.

To recover from having placed "mud" in an inappropriate area of an oil painting, simply let it dry, tell yourself it's a portion of a grisaille underpainting layer, and paint over it. There's no reason to have to settle for it the way it is. Not in oil painting, anyway.

In watercolor, it's a little easier to mix "mud" by mistake, and most of this is caused by allowing inappropriate or incompatible colors to run into each other, and mix on the paper. Allowing a green to run into a yellow or a brown to run into a red or orange would be fine. But, allowing orange and blue to run together creates quite a gray result, because they are nearly complements of each other.

This is just my opinion.

Bill

LarrySeiler
06-22-2003, 11:41 AM
good thoughts, Bill...

I think its all about devising your composition/design so that the voices you want to sing will sing free and clear of obstruction.

If that incorporates using neutrals to lessen interest to the eye such that an area where good color shouts out....that is one way.

Using complements....various color triads...all good organizing means to successfully pull off what gets seen/heard.

"Mud"...I guess could include any careless or immaturely applied paint that confuses the harmony of the intended voices to be heard. Neutrals...tones...whatever, so long as they support rather than detract, they will not be perceived as mud.

Larry