View Full Version : Warm colors advance, cool recede, photos

02-02-2002, 07:10 AM
In the attached black & white, the falls to the right and the light triangular shaped bright part of the rock in the center are pretty much exactly the same value. But when you look at the color version (next post), the rock clearly leaps out, because it is warm, and the falls seem to recede because they're cool. Of course, everyone knows this, but I have rarely seen it so clearly yet subtly demonstrated in a photo.

02-02-2002, 07:11 AM
color version:

02-02-2002, 10:06 AM
Not to strike up debate with tonalism again....but I can hardly see how a tonalist work alone could do justice to this as a painting, Lisa. AS you've pointed out, values alone would not emit what is happening here.

You could downplay other modes of contrast to try and tweak it, such as put detail in the lit up area, and little detail by comparison where things are in shadow. But, quite simply, this is an example where color itself would most aptly represent what the eyes and emotions pick up. Nice example....


02-02-2002, 11:35 AM
Yeah, Larry, this scene interests me for two reasons: 1) although it has a really strong, abstract value pattern, the real action is in the color and 2) it's surprising because the interest isn't where my mind thinks it ought to be-- you think "waterfall scene", and expect the active falling water to be the most interesting part of it, but the eye keeps getting drawn back to the warm, light rocks and the intense color in the darks. I started this morning (with my new paints, thanks for the advice!) and I'm being adventurous with it, so we'll see. :)

02-03-2002, 06:59 AM
Good to hear about the paints....
Its like trying now to find out if one toy is more fun than another. I mean, what can go wrong? :)

But, I think you'll play really nice and have fun with these! Will look forward to hearing how things progress for you.


02-03-2002, 03:08 PM
Although this truism applies to atmospheric perspective in particular, overall it's a little simplistic and doesn't bear close scrutiny. Example: if cool colours recede why does the foreground look closer than the falls or the trees? After all it is largely blue which should recede, right? Because the warm/cool thing is only part of the equation. In this particular case the rocks are largely more saturated than the water which adds to their impact and if you check the image in a program like Photoshop you can see the hue of the treeline is actually warmer than most of the rocks (i.e. closer to red/orange) and yet it stays in the background with no problem. Why? Because its saturation is low and value high. Look closely at the near surface of the pond and compare the highlight areas with the warm reflections, the blue appears closer because its saturation is higher that the warm colour in this area.

In reality the human eye might see this scene more like top right on my attachment as we can determine value/hue/saturation combinations that film can't and the treeline still looks farthest back to me. The bottom illustation should dispel any doubts that this does not always apply (I'm a little rusty on spherical distortions so forgive any obvious errors in the sphere).

Some images I was admiring just a few hours ago also demonstrate this eloquently. See how the blue cloth seems to leap out of <A HREF=http://www.williamwhitaker.com/A_PICTURE_FILES/3_WOMEN_IN_WHITE_PIX/LARGE/reverie.jpg>Reverie</A>? And the blouse in <A HREF=http://www.williamwhitaker.com/A_PICTURE_FILES/2_FIGURES_PORTRAITS_PIX/LARGE/CARYATID_01.JPG>Caryatid</A> appears much closer than the warm skirt (and I dare say the skin of the back) because of handling and value contrasts.

There's a good discussion about this and other colour theory "dogma" <A HREF=http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color3.html#warmcool>here</A>.

Larry, while I agree that colour would be important to get the most from this scene a tonalist depiction wouldn't be that monochromatic :D

02-03-2002, 03:11 PM
If you want to check value alone with digital images, don't convert them straight to greyscale from RGB or desaturate, which I think you used here. If your software allows you get the most accurate result if you convert to L*a*b mode and use the lightness channel (although some people prefer the RGB-to-greyscale result).

02-04-2002, 04:39 PM
Thanks again Einion, although a couple of your links did not work, I'm glad to see some monkeywrenches thrown into accepted theory...fact is , I can never see these rules working as clearly as other artists seem to .....and so I suspect that, we just don't know all the rules...I have studied applied linguistics to a fine degree and I am certain there, in that field, that "rules" just don't work...period. The human language is just too rich for "rules" to be any more than a hindrance..and maybe, being that painting is a "language"..hmmmm
:evil: :angel: :confused: :cat:

02-04-2002, 10:18 PM
This is interesting.

The concept of cool colors receding, warm advancing isn't faulty, it's just that it only applies under certain conditions, which are usually not stipulated:

-it seems to apply best to atmospheric conditions in the daytime, and much less so around sunsets/rises where the sky is quite orangy or red

-the objects in question must not be too cool or blue...a very saturated blue object going off in the distance will get a lighter, less saturated
blue (thus less 'cool')

-if you have shade in the foreground and sunlight
farther off (like the waterfall picture) the rule will seem to have been broken...the shadows did it, as well as the water reflecting the blue sky

-if you have cool objects in the foreground, and less cool ones farther back, the rule again seems broken. The water's own color is probably more blueish than the background trees.

-for this rule to work, you need quite a bit of distance before you get any noticable cooling effect. Just going by what I've noticed in nature, you need tens of metres as the bare minimum, and usually hundereds of metres or more.

So there are many exceptions, but the principle on which this rule is based is not just a fairy tale.
(atmosheric perspective). It's up to the artist to determine its proper usage. Lisa, I agree the rock seems to stand forward of the shadowed ones right beside it.

02-04-2002, 11:58 PM
This conversation is exactly why I love Wet Canvas-- I make a statement, then people who know a lot more than I do discuss it, and I learn a lot. Thanks, folks!

02-05-2002, 04:50 AM
the value in the water is noticably darker than the value of the rocks.

also,,,the light hitting the rocks pops because it is contrasted by the dark shadow cast upon it, whereas the water is backdropped by a similiarly valued tree-background.

value first,,,,color second.

reality presents too many variables. if you "objectify" the situation (is there such a word????), here is when the warm/cool theory applies.


i prefer painting reality over painting squares on a grey background ;);)


02-05-2002, 09:07 AM
Isn't this really all about PHOTOGRAPHY and NOT painting? And why it is frequently NOT cool to use photographs as a source?
In the photograph , There is a deep shadow in the foreground and a sunlit background. so, we have BLUE bouncing all over the place in the foreground due to the camera's inability to resolve the many tones that in reality exist, instead it goes red in the background sunlight and blue in the foreground shadows. Furthermore in keeping with the simple camera the foreground is total in focus as is the background. Everything is in focus and showing detail. There is not enuf distance to produce infrared (blue) rays between the viewer and the foreground and so that is an anomaly,( to see so much blue there.) One could go on and on picking out inconsistencies between the photograph and the natural way of seeing.
Actually the photograph does NOT work (in my opinion) nor would any painting of it. Maybe a DeChirico could do it but anyway that it was done it would stand out as an optical trick. This whole arguement is a red herring.

02-05-2002, 09:44 AM
mario said: "Actually the photograph does NOT work (in my opinion) nor would any painting of it. "

Well, I attempted it. Does it work? :)

02-05-2002, 09:50 AM
I should not make such terse statements.:evil:
I don't like the photo at all..the painting is much more better.:angel:

glen etzkorn
02-06-2002, 01:39 PM
Recession advancing colors or the word attention getting power of color?

For a long time I could not a camera to accurately report the quality of color interactions in my paintings.

After taking the yellow out (thanks be to reveal light bulbs) and a finger over the camera's useless flash. This image lost a vertical disturbance compared to the following.


Before at best the next image denotes a vertical disturbance, yet, demonstrates a little more obvious switching between the left and hemispheres of the brain and in between.


If interested my all time favorite flick since the advent of reveal light bulbs.

475k mpg file set x2 or fullscreen, repeat, sound off (http://freeyellow.com/members8/glenetzkorn/pics/eldergod2.mpg)

ancient design off a precolumbian temple

02-06-2002, 02:43 PM
FAR OUT.. this is really psychedelic, reminds me of a mescaline trip..can you tell us more about what you are doing and what it does to you?
I have a few books on Molas from Africa and the Mexican Huichole yarn work, they are all close to the goddess. Color morrie patterns
The teacher of a color workshop that I took (Jim Wallace) would really love your work as he is going in that direction himself, sort of.
The more realist painters of the Philadelphia School would call all such linear work "iconographic" and the paintings with volume and spumato they would call "atmospheric"
I think that the previous images which involve color perspective are most concerned with the push ,pull distance of warm, cool...Could you talk about how that is working for near and far in your icons? Don't get me wrong, I like your work. The last one, the mask actually looks alive..

glen etzkorn
02-06-2002, 04:09 PM
it is sometimes called the modern color theory with this being in the confines (except for the brown) mostly of my masters "optical illusion and vibrational theory' yale 1952 (among his other contributions the double or reverse after-image, simultaneous presence ect).

I was trained in the mid-sixties during what I call the 'optic wars', whereupon I noted a lot of fakery at the national level.


Regarding what I am doing is painting such that this next image is when the first two images were coming to life. At a point when I was just getting the camera to function a wee bit better if not falsely. ought you pay close attention to some of the forward unpainted structures you may well note like a when a camera captured a horse in flight something is altering namely your edge dectection devices in your brain ie, it has areas receding and then advancing.


This is similar to an advent black and white as the common image of vase which turns back and forth between the differing sides of the human brain (last winter issue scientific america) or as more discriptively in the following image the raimondi stone.


The Raimondi stone is addressed abstractly to display at least several levels associated with what the ancient ones were doing with provided flick in my 1st post. I break the events down into about 12 levels of perception Two major sets (flight-landing zones and in between and then the obvious level of image or the flick just waiting to happen. Doubt it will happen yet on a monitor as not all visual interactions are present due to camera difficuties (like how). Going a distance does cause problems. When in low the first two image capture if you get your eyes close to the image the first time color illusions are being caught such that the red appears the same but back up the turn a bluish-pink or orangish.

Just got company. So will demonstrate that question better when I return.

glen etzkorn
02-07-2002, 02:39 PM
near and far camera or eye examples.



The first two images show a loss a perception regarding relative distance, in real distance human eye the dots appear 10 to 14 feet then delishiously to the fade out when approached at about 2 to 3 feet. The dot image won't at all or only sketchedly in other positions which do not let a raking light source from the left as the image is offered.

next image same except further along camera intake progression prior to advent of Reveal light, when the spring was dawning last year with the forest canopy soaking about the third sized green leaves this awesome green abviance.


The next image is simply the first message- 2 image taken at times 2 the siz: the same day as just described last sentance structure. If human were this close things would look more colorful, more effect. If I took the image presented in the pic at the first message image 2 the actual presentation is more towards an effect of the less heightend lines of similar designed orbs.

{{ back to question of what I am doing sounds much like this description - "Valley of the Spirits" Kolata 1996 again like the Last Shaman study of Amayra- with emphasis on Tiwanuku. See especially Palace of the multi-colored rooms" pg. 162 ..., "normally one or two coats of intensely colored paint.., But some brick fragments from the ruins of the palace preserved from six to 15 layers were of a single hue applied again and again to the same surface. Suggesting that particular colors carried important symbolic or decorative functions". }}

{I would also add most likely a great way to consider color usage on bas relief stoneworks.}


Problems remain for larger images of mine which are 3' x 3'. Probalbly need big camera at about 300 pound ratio weight and size improvement, that or the some bulb company to put a little more Blue to please my visual enjoyment but also maybe more correct allignment to how the human placement sees the effects versus sometimes obviously 90 degrees about error report from camera. Thought before this issue could be because of lens shape. The false angle display have changed from 90 but still not as a human catches the drift.

Oh, the life of an amateur photographer is never easy.

02-07-2002, 08:23 PM
Originally posted by Mario
Thanks again Einion, although a couple of your links did not work, I'm glad to see some monkeywrenches thrown into accepted theory...
Hi Mario, forgot to check those two links before I posted. Obviously Whitaker's website is ubdated more frequently than I thought! :)

Here are two details of the images I was referring to.