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Richard Saylor
06-13-2006, 03:45 AM
Would you be able to paint this if you didn't know that the central (brown?) square on the top of the cube is exactly the same color as the central (yellow?) square on the front (shaded) side? (Use the color picker in PS or PSP if you don't believe they are the same color.) So much for trying to "paint what you see." (Don't worry about the tesselated background. That's not really part of the illusion.)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Jun-2006/31398-cube.jpg

Patrick1
06-13-2006, 05:46 AM
Would you be able to paint this if you didn't know that the central (brown?) square on the top of the cube is exactly the same color as the central (yellow?) square on the front (shaded) side?
If I was painting by eye, probably not on my first attempt. I didn't believe that one until I eyedroppered it. Assuming you want to paint something realistically, the saying should be changed to 'Paint what color is really there, not the color you think you're seeing'. Of course that's not easy, unless you're looking through a cardboard cutout to isolate the color. Even then, color matching isn't easy.

Speaking of which, I remember drollere admonishing me that you don't paint by copying colors one-for-one. Well, this is exactly what some photorealist painters do; isolate a color though a cutout so that it can be matched. And they can get excellent results doing so.

Richard Saylor
06-13-2006, 06:24 AM
I wonder whether it is possible to paint the front square yellow-orange and the top one brown, consistent with a realistic portrayal of the entire cube. I should think one would run into a value problem somewhere. By the way, you can greyscale the image without destroying the illusion.

Jeff Rage
06-13-2006, 11:36 AM
Using my super amazing Paint skillz:

Einion
06-13-2006, 04:08 PM
So much for trying to "paint what you see."
Indeed. People who can paint things accurately/realistically (as the majority of people see) have to do one of the following:
mix, check, remix and then apply;
judge the colour using a keyhole view or something similar, removing the contextual illusion;
or they use prior experience to make the mixture the colour they know something is likely to be and not what it appears to be, possibly with adjustments afterwards, although these will be much smaller than would otherwise be necessary. For example, when mixing flesh halftones they're not nearly so grey, even blueish, as they appear so the mix will already be a neutralised orange/scarlet and not actually greyish or blueish.

Einion

FriendCarol
06-13-2006, 07:15 PM
Yes, as to the on-topic question, there are at least 2 ways in which we don't 'paint what we see.' One is the limitations of materials, raised by drollere, as Patrick reminds us. The other is the sort of artists' point raised by expressionism (broadly conceived). Even Loomis suggests stretching the figure, or making other desirable adjustments to what is 'really there.' (I just bought his book on Ebay. :) )

With this illusion, just creating 'aperture' from fingers (and closing one eye) seems sufficient to demonstrate they are the same color, when I hold fingers in front of screen. It is a very strong contextual illusion, though.

Btw, Patrick, Jo Taylor sometimes uses dots. She puts gesso & acrylic in medicine bottles, and uses the dropper to make perfect small circles easily... Don't know if that was the pointillist you were thinking of. It's not really pointillism, since she uses it as a layer over the underlying painting, for emphasis, but wanted to give you the reference anyway. (Book I saw is "Watercolor Wisdom" but perhaps you can find examples via Yahoo or Google.)

Of course you knew I was going to veer slightly off-topic. :D Now more so... Question primarily for Einion: I've been painting figures for awhile now, and just recently started using blue for shadows because it does give the impression (when the painting is viewed) of shadow. But that is not at all what I'm seeing. So I'm using blue as a sort of shorthand currently, but what should I do for shadows? Particularly bearing in mind that the longest pose I ever see is 20 minutes! :lol: I'm still using w/c, and a 93 lb. white paper, so I also have difficulty getting fleshtones to show up well against the white (but I don't have time to put in bg much, just the occasional cushions or stool).

It always annoys me to see 'conventional' watercolors (you know what I mean? the raw sienna skies, etc.?), and now I'm producing them. :p What should I be doing? Btw, we have multiple lights (track lighting) around the platform; I normally see very distinct red and yellow highlights at the edges of the bodies (where skin is most strongly reflective).

LarrySeiler
06-13-2006, 09:21 PM
absolutely I would be able to paint it...

and I wouldn't need to use photoshop's color picker.

Everything is based on compare and contrast...and that yellow central square is not isolated. It is surrounded by other colors and values...and to be honest, compared to some of the trout and fur bearing critters I've painted professionally in my time, I'd consider the painting of this child's play...

...and, it would come not by my having to intellectualize what was happening or I was seeing. It would come by painting what I was seeing...

This is why I endorse so heartily after 20 years instudio painting ABOUT the outdoors actually painting on location today, because with compositional concerns about and aesthetic alterations aside...I paint what I see and what I see of the subject on location is much better, complete, absolutely honest and I can trust my eyes...

Don't hardly see what is the issue here...sorry, don't mean to weird out on ya...doesn't seem that difficult is all...boring maybe...a job.

Put $1200 on the table, and I can have it done 11"x 14" for you by the end of this weekend...

Patrick1
06-13-2006, 10:23 PM
...It's not really pointillism, since she uses it as a layer over the underlying painting, for emphasis...Interesting, that sounds like a neat way of building up the lights.... kind of bubbly.


Larry, would you know just by looking at it that the square in the top center and front center are the exact same color? Would you have to go by trial and error, or would you get their color right the first time (assuming you want realistic, literal coloration (and no white point shift).

My approach would be to mass in the average color of the entire shadow side and then get the color of each square on that side by adding very small amounts of color to that base color until I get it right, and let simultaneous contrast take care of the illusion. If I painted it the color I think I'm seeing I'd never get it. Same goes for the colors of the other squares on the dark side.

LarrySeiler
06-14-2006, 01:10 AM
Larry, would you know just by looking at it that the square in the top center and front center are the exact same color?

Wouldn't need to know. That "need" is for fun pointing it out to kids in art or science class, but not relevant to those that paint what they see. If you paint what you "think out" it might be a problem...but, after 30 years of painting, I get in a zone and just start mixing, start paintin'.

Thing is...if we were to be logical about it...it is an illusion because it doesn't look as though it is the same color right? Well then...if you paint this image, your painting will project that same sense of illusion. The browns would not seem to match either. They would...(isolated and using photoshop's color picker) but if it appears like the photo presented, the illusion would yet appear to be fooling the eye.

Looking at the bottom red center square in the shadow...the mind lets you know its red...but to paint it, I'd compare it to the colors and values either side and top...and just what I know about values and color. I wouldn't look to the reds on the top of the square to mix my color. That area is irrelevant.


Would you have to go by trial and error, or would you get their color right the first time (assuming you want realistic, literal coloration (and no white point shift).

well..there's a lot of potential instruction just in answering this last question alone.

For many that paint on white surfaces...say a large white canvas, color is often hard to judge straight off...and as more of the canvas gets filled in so that there is less and less white of the canvas showing, many artists find they have to go back and fix, alter etc; the colors because they read differently with less white.

I tend to apply a mid to slightly lighter than mid gray ground so that my lights and darks read straight off. I don't like to have to wait for most of the painting to be completed before lights will read right.

So there are other factors involved that determine if the color by painting's end will read right...and MAY require some tweaking and touch up. Still...if it doesn't read right it is because visual information is alerting the mind that it doesn't "look" right, which is all part of that domain of painting what you see...

Thing is...I sense the implication by this thread to be that painting what you see cannot be entirely trusted for the painter, as though some deeper insight and reasoning is needed...(a conclusion drawn by Richard's summation- "So much for painting what you see" ) ...and yet, painting is an act by its very nature, a means of deeper seeing. A vehicle that empowers and enables the observing eye to see beyond the lay person's lack of attentiveness.

A life spent observing and using the vehicle of paint to see more deeply, and painting often for many many years, I just don't see why it might be thought this is so difficult? Okay...sure, a neat illusionist trick...optical...but how does this impede painting what one sees? I guess I just don't get it. It would bore me...but it wouldn't be that hard.



My approach would be to mass in the average color of the entire shadow side and then get the color of each square on that side by adding very small amounts of color to that base color until I get it right, and let simultaneous contrast take care of the illusion. If I painted it the color I think I'm seeing I'd never get it. Same goes for the colors of the other squares on the dark side.

there are any number of approaches, sure. One can squint the eyes and begin by blocking in the dark value of the shaded side. If I were doing this using acrylics, which I tend to paint dark to light in transparent layers of a line hatching blending method...it would be that much more natural.

I'm not wanting to sound cocky or arrogant here...nor wanting to start any issue. I just don't see the difficulty, but is that just me because I claim and find ease in painting what I see?

I find painting what I see not difficult...but what I find difficult is painting what I feel...getting more in touch with what moves me.

Richard Saylor
06-14-2006, 03:14 AM
Lighten up, Larry. I'm not challenging the validity of your "paint what you see" modus operandi. I'm just saying that painting what you see is not nearly as simple as it sounds, that knowing how to paint what one is seeing may require a great deal of experience and insight, which may completely elude the novice. In fact, painting what one sees may involve overriding the brain's immediate interpretation and analysis of what one is seeing.

Brad121
06-14-2006, 04:59 AM
Fascinating illusion..If you print it out, and then squint, it's easy to make out the reality.

Thanks for sharing.

Brad

Richard Saylor
06-14-2006, 05:34 AM
Fascinating illusion..If you print it out, and then squint, it's easy to make out the reality.Interesting... Maybe the illusion is enhanced by viewing the image on a computer monitor. Thanks for the observation.

Einion
06-14-2006, 01:27 PM
Interesting... Maybe the illusion is enhanced by viewing the image on a computer monitor.
It is. Do you remember when I redrew this? I had to work in RGB mode for it to work properly, i.e. use the exact colours of the original. The gamut of CMYK is too small to show the illusion adequately.

Einion

LarrySeiler
06-14-2006, 03:47 PM
not wanting to be contentious, Richard...that's why I near apologize and refer to your original phrasing of- So much for trying to "paint what you see"...couldn't help but read into that line at face value.

I'll agree perhaps mastering such comes down to experience, but doesn't everything? I tend to float thru life "lightened up"...'till something makes me snap back to consciousness and go..."huh...wwwwwhat?" (put to that the sound Daffy Duck's bill makes when it flies around his head) :D

take care...no harm meant, no harm committed...:thumbsup:

Larry

WaltWally
06-14-2006, 07:15 PM
Reminds me of an old saying:

Most people who say, "seeing is believing," are usually better at believing than seeing.

Ron

WaltWally
06-14-2006, 07:19 PM
And that reminds of a quote usually attributed to Winston Churchill (a painter, rumored to dabble in politics):

Man occasionally stumbles upon the truth, but usually manages to get up and go on as though nothing had happened!

Maybe these sayings indicate how artists can be "saner" than the average bear, since an artist has to learn to SEE and not just BELIEVE...

WaltWally
06-14-2006, 07:22 PM
Larry wrote:I tend to float thru life "lightened up"...'till something makes me snap back to consciousness and go..."huh...wwwwwhat?" (put to that the sound Daffy Duck's bill makes when it flies around his head)A reference to ol' Daffy gets this animator right where he lives!

Richard Saylor
06-14-2006, 08:18 PM
...couldn't help but read into that line at face value.No problem. I should have made it clearer. Obviously if a person can paint what they see, then they can paint anything, including optical illusions.

bigflea
06-17-2006, 11:41 AM
Have to agree with Larry's point, re. a painter doesn't "need" to know what the relationship is between two colors before observing and mixing to solve the relationship. And any relationship between two color areas is part of a much broader relationship and arrangement of colors between and around them, in nature. Focusing on one problem isolated from the whole can lead to one conclusion, while considering all color areas in the context of the whole can lead to another. The relationship between the two color spots could be solved by understanding the masses of color and then the variations in them.

To me, this problem seems much less difficult than the kinds of color illusion problems faced in painting from nature. And I think painters solve these illusions all the time. But not everyone agrees on what a solution is. Not everyone agrees on what colorings are occuring visually, and a painter may see coloring very differently than is "expected" by others. I know that I do not see coloring now the way I did 30 years ago, when my color perception and my mixing ability had a much narrower range .

Illusions of color in natural light and atmospheric conditions outdoors seem to me to be more elusive, in terms of a satisfying solution, partly because the effects are simultaneously more visually powerful but subtle. Forms, in natural light conditions, do not look as graphic (cut out) the way the illusion here does. The edges between variations of coloring are not separate from the forms, and the painter is trying to solve an illusion of a continuous volume of light and air on a flat surface, where one color (and hue) transitions into other colors and hues.

Pigments do not translate directly into the kind of chromatically strong yet subtle illusions present visually in nature. Mixing is partly an attempt to defy the limitations of pigments, and interpret the visual illusion or effect, a symbol of it, rather than a direct copying of it. How little or how much needs to be done to achieve this effect differs from one painter to the next.

There are great differences in the way painters conceive of forms and the relationship to light and the effects of light on form. Those differences produce different painting solutions.
Ken

Einion
06-17-2006, 04:22 PM
Have to agree with Larry's point, re. a painter doesn't "need" to know what the relationship is between two colors before observing and mixing to solve the relationship.
That depends on their goal doesn't it? A realist painter, particularly someone who might loosely work in what's called High Realism, v. a Post-Impressionist? The former has specific needs to get relationships on the canvas that very closely match reality while with the latter their goal, the whole direction of their painting, is different, usually both in physical execution as well as in colour depiction.

A realist paints in a way that the general viewer will acknowledge looks very real, and representing colour accurately is obviously a big part of that. That means that certain areas, those that are deceptive, are done well enough - the colours recreated accurately enough - that they're believable on the canvas. This is no small task since one can see a dull scarlet as quite grey, even blueish, one can see brown as orange, one can see a dull ochre as even a little violet, etc. etc. There are dozens of examples of this in reality and as I've suggested to Larry in the past the experienced painter maybe isn't consciously paying attention to their mixing, I'd say especially those that work quickly (hence this may be more true of plein air painters than normal) so they may not realise a colour that they're using is what it is. But if the result is seen as quite true and believable the colour relationships must be done well since people are quite good at picking up exaggerations, in the same way that they can see if something is poorly drawn even if they can't draw themselves.

Einion

jdadson
06-17-2006, 09:05 PM
There's definitely a trap there. There is a painting prominently displayed on the home page of a painter's website. It is a still life with peaches, I think. Some kind of fruit, but probably peaches. The peaches look like they have blue mold on them where the shadows should be. I imagine this is what happened: The painter looked at the peaches, and the shadows looked blue. (They were instead almost certainly a lower chroma version of the peach body color.) So, see blue, mix up some blue, paint blue. You kind of have to wonder why the painter didn't recognize that something was amiss.

But one develops a kind of blindness to a painting in progress. I've had paintings that just looked awful and I could not figure out why. Sometimes after abandoning the thing for a week or month or more, I've looked at it again to find that the fault was glaringly obvious. This is, at least in part, what Leffel was getting on about when he said, "It's not about painting what you see. It's about seeing what you paint."

Richard Saylor
06-17-2006, 09:45 PM
There's definitely a trap there. There is a painting prominently displayed on the home page of a painter's website. It is a still life with peaches, I think. Some kind of fruit, but probably peaches. The peaches look like they have blue mold on them where the shadows should be. I imagine this is what happened: The painter looked at the peaches, and the shadows looked blue.....Or else the painter looked at the light source, saw that it was warm (say, orangish), and therefore deduced that the shadows were cool (say, bluish), because his teacher had told him so.

bigflea
06-17-2006, 11:55 PM
Or else the painter looked at the local color of the peaches, and because someone told them a nice color scheme is made by contrasting warm color (local color of a peach) with a cool shadow area, they ended up with a peachy orangish/ bluish color harmony contrast. Maybe they saw that scheme in a hotel they stayed in once? Who knows for sure, perhaps only the painter.

The question remains, when you color model a form, do you see actual contrasts of hue, between the light and shade planes, or not? In part the answer, I believe, has to do with the light conditions you are observing, and to some degree, with the painter's conception of form, color, and light.


Re. your point Einion about painters not being aware of the actual content of the color mixtures, (assuming that is what you meant, correct me if wrong) , it can be a problem to overanalyze, or be too methodical or formula oriented in painting outdoors, where the goal is to express / describe conditions that change quickly. On the other hand, depending on how the painter works, something that seems to work in the moment of painting may look wrong once it is taken inside, and seen from the pov of a different viewing condition, and the painter has to analyze why it looks wrong, or not solved as a problem. They may feel it is simply a matter of color shapes and proportions( drawing). Or maybe it is question about the harmonic contrasts. Maybe the contrasts between light and shade areas are too extreme to describe the illusion of a volume, and the value relationships, or the chromatic values, have to be adjusted, in order to unify the forms, light, and atmospheric space of the 2d surface.

Is a painter attempting to paint what everyone will agree with, or attempting to describe a visual sensation of colors whether or not it fits into a pre -
convened conception of coloring? Perhaps if the goal/role of a painter is to make money, they will be cautious about veering outside of the acceptable conceptions of what colorings occur naturally, as part of the light and atmospheric effects in nature.

But if your goal as a painter is to describe and express a visual sensation of coloring, it may not be possible to stay within a range of coloring that is generally understood. The reason being , mainly, that coloring is taken for granted, and no matter what the light and atmosheric conditions may be, the assumption is that the color of the form is already known, before it is observed in particular conditions. My point is not that unusual coloring is itself superior to what may be expected, but to distinguish between conceptions and sensations, or the visual effects that are often the substance of unusual coloring.

Re. Leffel's quote, it makes great sense, but then, in looking at his work, in person, (not repro.), I have to wonder at the extreme conditions of his light conditions. If you can only paint under one light condition, and it is a subdued interior lighting, how relevant is that to the greater variety of light and atmospheric conditions that are present in nature, and to a discussion of why painters differ in their color solutions.?
Ken

airartiste
06-18-2006, 02:41 AM
The visual phenomenon which affects color perception in this case, is known as simultaneous contrast and is discussed on another thread. The human visual experience is much more subjective and unconscious than most people are aware, which is an exploration the impressionists sought to pursue.

Dru

bigflea
06-18-2006, 08:33 AM
Dru,
Perhaps, but one could also point out the subjective differences in the way "realism" is treated from one painter to the next. One could also question the difference between a realistic rendering and a visual experience of the actual subject. Impressionist painting abandoned color conventions of realism because these conceptions did not exist visually in nature, but had become standardize conceptions of how things are expected to "look". Painting technique, and the limitations of pigments, and pre conceived ideas, determined how painters rendered, prior to Impressionism. Painting outdoors, from an actual visual situation, was considered un important and unnecessary, up until the Barbizon painters, who preceded the impressionists. Differences in coloring of forms, based on differing light and atmospheric conditions, was not conceived of prior to this period. So one could say that the Barbizon and Impressionist movements were partly attempts to become more realistic about the visual color experience.

Human vision is selective, I feel, no matter what your conception of painting is.
Ken

LarrySeiler
06-18-2006, 09:32 AM
To me, this problem seems much less difficult than the kinds of color illusion problems faced in painting from nature. And I think painters solve these illusions all the time.
- - -
Illusions of color in natural light and atmospheric conditions outdoors seem to me to be more elusive,

This is why (though it may have sounded arrogant) I said after painting wildlife subjects and outdoor subjects for years...I thought of the optical illusion as "child's play"

Nature is good at throwing challenges at the eye.

One reason too I think some artists like to paint from photos of nature rather than setting up painting directly from nature...(though I don't think they are consciously aware they like photos for this reason) is that the photo reduces many of the challenges actual light of real time experience offers. A photo produces a biased opinion, more a stereotype that a photo enculturated society has come to accept; images neglecting and negating the shifts of color and subtle relationships of an atmopshere filled with light..direct and indirect. It offers the artist the promise of control. Nothing will change, not all of light and color that truly exists needs to be argued in the mind such as to be given preference and prominence.

In a sense then...painting from a photograph is much easier. Copying more what the camera saw...than what the eyes directly might have seen. What makes painting what one sees fun as well as a challenge, is that as clouds move, as winds shift, as nature's mood changes what your eyes saw say 15 minutes ago...may not be the same as what it then now sees. Thus, it is often experienced as a not too pleasant struggle, one not for the feint of heart. But...it holds more integrity, more honesty...a witness of life. One learns to paint fast, direct, to the point...confident with the brush, and to do so...one has to paint enough paintings such that the mixing of color becomes second nature. Attention on the subject, not on the pains of one's inefficiency. This is why I often tell artists going outdoors (no matter how many years they have painted) for the first time...that it will take about 120 bad paintings to learn something of it...

JamieWG
06-18-2006, 11:13 AM
Richard, that's a really fascinating illusion! Thanks for posting it. I'm saving this one!

I also believe that Larry could do it no sweat, but for me it would likely be quite a challenge!

Jamie

Einion
06-18-2006, 05:32 PM
There's definitely a trap there. There is a painting prominently displayed on the home page of a painter's website. It is a still life with peaches, I think. Some kind of fruit, but probably peaches. The peaches look like they have blue mold on them where the shadows should be. I imagine this is what happened: The painter looked at the peaches, and the shadows looked blue. (They were instead almost certainly a lower chroma version of the peach body color.) So, see blue, mix up some blue, paint blue.
That's a good example of exactly the type of thing.

You kind of have to wonder why the painter didn't recognize that something was amiss.
The $64,000 question.


Or else the painter looked at the light source, saw that it was warm (say, orangish), and therefore deduced that the shadows were cool (say, bluish), because his teacher had told him so.
Hadn't thought of that one; certainly plausible.


Re. your point Einion about painters not being aware of the actual content of the color mixtures, (assuming that is what you meant, correct me if wrong)
Yep, not consciously aware in the the sense that if asked they wouldn't be able to say how they mixed something.

...it can be a problem to overanalyze, or be too methodical or formula oriented in painting outdoors, where the goal is to express / describe conditions that change quickly.
I know you're making the point about mixing quickly but I disagree fundamentally on this. It can be important to mix with your mind as much as with your eyes, for a multitude of reasons that I'm sure we can all think of; and for more than one medium. Also I don't think you can be too methodical, except in as much as it might slow the process down if there's a need for speed.

Is a painter attempting to paint what everyone will agree with, or attempting to describe a visual sensation of colors whether or not it fits into a pre - convened conception of coloring? Perhaps if the goal/role of a painter is to make money, they will be cautious about veering outside of the acceptable conceptions of what colorings occur naturally, as part of the light and atmospheric effects in nature.
Ah now, you're putting an entirely different spin on what I'm pretty sure at this stage you know I meant ;)

But if your goal as a painter is to describe and express a visual sensation of coloring, it may not be possible to stay within a range of coloring that is generally understood.
Different painters work in different ways and I could easily imagine two entirely different styles being seen by the respective artists in much the same way... since we have examples right here.


Richard, that's a really fascinating illusion! Thanks for posting it. I'm saving this one!
Hi Jamie, higher-res version of the same illusion in this thread if you want it:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4249157#post4249157

Einion

FriendCarol
06-18-2006, 05:57 PM
The $64,000 question.Here's my theory on that: Painters have been making this same error for many, many, many years. Other painters who make this error have seen several of those earlier works and know they are admired. So now the blue shadow on the peach lit indoors by a lamp or candle looks 'painterly' to them.

This is what I mean by "conventional" color, in fact. I see it all the time in watercolors: the entire scene is so often a pale facsimile of what we know it had to be in reality. I hate that. It's also just like using blue for shadows on a figure -- they're not there, but I'm so used to seeing them in other works portraying the figure, in an entirely different sense they look 'right'. Iow, they look like other painters' figure paintings: they match the convention for painting figures. :rolleyes:

jdadson
06-18-2006, 06:08 PM
There's definitely a trap there. There is a painting prominently displayed on the home page of a painter's website. It is a still life with peaches, I think. Some kind of fruit, but probably peaches.

I happened across it again. It's not peaches. It looks like they are probably supposed to be oranges. No matter, of course.

"It's not about painting what you see. It's about seeing what you paint."

airartiste
06-18-2006, 06:12 PM
Ken,

Subjectivity and interpretation are a part of the human visual experience for all artists (since, despite appearances, most artists are human).

The Photorealist seeks to eliminate the subjectivity and interpretation of the visual experience in a painting, while the Impressionist celebrates it.

Dru

bigflea
06-18-2006, 11:04 PM
Einion,
I do not disagree with you about being aware of what is going on, in mixing, when painting. I do not see how a painter can be "mindless" about painting, unless they are thinking about their other problems in life while trying to work at painting.

What I mean about a potential problem from "too much method", or overanalyzing, is that direct insight , or intuitive awareness, of solutions, in painting, is as important as a conceptual method. If we override intuition about a solution to a color problem because it does conform to our conceptual method, in a way we miss the entire idea of painting from life.

Either way, methodically or with simple direct insight, no one is abandoning their brains and thoughtfulness about the problem solving unless they are thinking about something that has nothing to do with the problem in the moment. One needs a reliable system or method for analyzing problems, but that does not mean problems are always solved best by them.

A painter may want to avoid turning out works that look methodical and overanalyzed, simply because in the process of second guessing everything, the mistake is made of not seeing the integrity of what you have done spontaneously. That is, if you second guess everything,(overanalyze) you can destroy the truth of your own works. Method is a means, but not an end in itself, is another way of stating the idea.

Airartiste,
Don't disagree with that idea. (Subjective expression, personal interpretation inherent in an artist's works).

But believe it or not, alot of impressionist painters, and paintings, attempt to eliminate the subjective, personal content in the belief that something impersonal and universally subjective (not objective) is at the core of a visual experience.

Expressionism may be more the kind of celebratory subjective expression you are referring to?
Ken

Einion
06-19-2006, 01:10 PM
Here's my theory on that: Painters have been making this same error for many, many, many years. Other painters who make this error have seen several of those earlier works and know they are admired. So now the blue shadow on the peach lit indoors by a lamp or candle looks 'painterly' to them.
Good point. Although I agree for balance I should point out that for some people this isn't an error; it only becomes an error if someone insists that's actually the way things are.

I see it all the time in watercolors: the entire scene is so often a pale facsimile of what we know it had to be in reality.
Yep, from what I've seen it is common in that medium; for fairly understandable reasons, but still.


I happened across it again. It's not peaches. It looks like they are probably supposed to be oranges.
Egads!


I do not disagree with you about being aware of what is going on, in mixing, when painting. I do not see how a painter can be "mindless" about painting, unless they are thinking about their other problems in life while trying to work at painting.
You know the way you can get home, drop the keys on the dresser and realise you can't remember the journey from work? Bad though this is for driving it's not uncommon I would imagine in virtuoso painters; I do know of one or two painters who paint below the conscious threshold some or most of the time.

What I mean about a potential problem from "too much method", or overanalyzing, is that direct insight , or intuitive awareness, of solutions, in painting, is as important as a conceptual method.
I see what you're saying but the 'intuitive awareness' is for some painters (artists generally in fact) but not for all.

Too much method, if I understand what you mean correctly, can indeed be a problem IMO because then how you're doing something can become more important than what you're doing. I think this is one of the fundamental issues with learner painters who can become too involved in the mechanics and lose sight of the bigger picture (pun intended :)) and it's a stage I'm sure almost everyone goes through, I can clearly remember it myself.

If we override intuition about a solution to a color problem because it does conform to our conceptual method, in a way we miss the entire idea of painting from life.
Speaking for myself, I'm not talking about a conceptualised method.

Either way, methodically or with simple direct insight, no one is abandoning their brains and thoughtfulness about the problem solving...
Actually I'd dispute that in the sense that "using one's brain" is usually understood to be about doing something consciously. It also just occurred to me while writing this that if you work on autopilot you're perhaps more likely to do something conventionalised in that you may fall into easy, well-known ways of tackling something. With painters of great skill you can still sometimes see lesser pieces - the whole work or just some passages - that aren't quite 'there', and this may be a reason for it; perhaps when they were working they were preoccupied as you suggest.

But believe it or not, alot of impressionist painters, and paintings, attempt to eliminate the subjective, personal content in the belief that something impersonal and universally subjective (not objective) is at the core of a visual experience.
Hehe, as long as they understand that it's subjective and don't try to sell it as objective :D

Einion

bigflea
06-19-2006, 08:18 PM
Einion,
it may not have been misunderstood, but one of the lines quoted left out a word, that changes the meaning of the phrase. "...overide intuition because it does conform to our conceptual..." should read, "... does not conform to our conceptual...".

At any rate, Larry has often used the phrase, " in the zone" in reference to a state of mind, (or mindlessness) which he wants to attain in painting. To me the phrase is intended to connote a kind of instinctual action in regard to what a person is doing. It is used in sports, and writers use a similar description when talking about writing novels with fictional characters, where dialogue and action seems to be coming from a source beyond the imagination of the writer, ie., happening as the author witnesses it.

So essentially we are drifting into a discussion about the creative state(s) of mind, vs. being distracted by the problems of everyday living, vs. doing something by rote, like a mechanical procedure, that requires no creative thinking or reflection.

Ideally, whatever methods a painter adopts, and whatever conception they hold, one goal could be to become so adept in it that one can act instinctively, without overanalyzing or getting stuck in a dead end. IOW, a method becomes second nature, so to speak, and if it satisfies the "vision" of the painter, then it meets the criteria they have set out for themselves. Such an idea could apply to many different pictorial styles, or conventions. On the other hand, some people prefer a mechanized process, and it may not occur to them that a particular step in a process is unnecessary, because part of the goal is having a particular process to follow.

A difference between working in autopilot and being " in a zone" could be a distinction between a mechanical process and a creative one. Eg., professional atheletes visualize their performance prior to the actual performance, since research has proven that visualizing action improves one's ability to act instinctively. In the moment of action they are not in autopilot,(as we might imagine), but in a hightened state of physical awareness, and at times able to do things that seem to be physically impossible.

So, I think you are right to suggest that in autopilot, where we are somewhat unaware of our goal and situation, a painter's work may not reach further then what is a minimal standard.

Re. Jive's website reports; still these are anecdotal accounts which only describe Jive's reaction to something that does not fit his conception of what ought to be the coloring in a modeled form. If one has the conception of form as seen in a subdued interior light source, their conception of coloring for modeling the form may not be reliable in terms of daylight, outdoors, with effects of atmosphere and secondary light sources. I doubt that Leffel could use his particular color schemes (of his somber interior still life works) for outdoor still life paintings and paint something that actually had the feeling of outdoors to it.
Ken

WFMartin
06-20-2006, 10:27 PM
My answer is almost the exact same as Larry's regarding the brown cube. Yes, I certainly WOULD be able to paint that "brown"/"yellow" block on the top, center, and the side, center, and for the same, precise reason as Larry has given, and, without hardly giving it much consideration.

The actual truth of the matter is, it would be one helluva lot MORE difficult a task to paint all the OTHER surrounding colors with available paints. For me, that dirty brown would seem to be one heck of a lot easier to produce with oil paint than most of those highly saturated greens, yellows, reds, and blues surrounding it.;) ;) I'm not sure I could even find a tube of paint with that clean a blue in it.

Bill

LarrySeiler
06-21-2006, 09:33 AM
Ken,

Subjectivity and interpretation are a part of the human visual experience for all artists (since, despite appearances, most artists are human).

The Photorealist seeks to eliminate the subjectivity and interpretation of the visual experience in a painting, while the Impressionist celebrates it.

Dru


It is interesting to take up this argument, thoughts and such of artists that have thought of these things before us. Little by little I am acquiring books such as artist and instructor John Carlson, written in 1929 on Landscape Painting, John Ruskin early 1800's... The Painted Sketch..a thick book on the evolution of outdoor painting in America focusing on Church, Cole, Durand, Bierstadt, etc; and one I acquired just last week and have been readin' it up is Edgar Payne's book, 1941.."Composition of Outdoor Painting"

I'd like to share some interesting comments I just read on his assessment of the FRENCH Impressionists, and it might be fun to see what artists were thinking and talking about back then. To treat Payne's comments fairly, I need to type up a few paragraphs before and after-

"Ruskin says, in as many words, that the great aim of compositionj is to create unity and that one feature should be the main interest and dominate all other interests or masses. Practically all other writers on art agree that this is the main principle in creating unified designs.

"Pleasing design or a balanced pictorial plan is chief among the requisites of all fine paintings. A picture needs a solid foundation. We would not build a house without a well thought out preliminary plan or a substantial footing in the soils.

"If a composition is to fill its first requirement, that of attracting and holding the interest, it must embody those elements which accomplish this end. If through carelessness or lack of knowledge or practice, important factors have been ignored, the feeling of unity or balance is destroyed, the work is inevitably doomed to mediocrity.

"Weak consideration of the main essentials is to court disaster. Students, yes, even experience artists, often become interested in one or two factors and neglect others equally important, thus injuring complete unity. Notable examples of this may be seen in the work of certain painters of the French Impressionist School. In their enthusiasm for color and vibration they often neglected values, drawings and unity in composition. Edges too, were sometimes over softened in their eagerness to secure vibration. Thus not only was truth and other essential factors set aside, but the main unity was disorganized.

"Nevertheless, the Impressionists' idea of color vibration and luminosity, being built on natural laws, was a sound theory, and subsequently influenced nearly all schools of paitning. Not only was more attention paid to the truthful aspects of nature, but the abstract principle came into its own importance in the field of art. This is one more instance of proof that natural laws are the basis of all principles, and that new principles can never set aside existing or accepted fundamentals.

"Although Impressionism is usually associated with the spotty system of painting, it actually embraces many contemporary methods of depicting broadly. While the vibrating of color with small dabs or bits of complementary color produces fine quality, there is also great charm in broadly conceived and painted canvases. Breadth in painting creates an abstract interval that exercises the imaginative faculties of both the painter and his appreciator. The idea of breadth means simplicity. Simplicity means one unified idea."

I share this not to dispute, but to show that Payne would be looking for a balance between these ideas, the purpose being to assure foundational principles were in tack to produce better than mediocre works.

Larry

LarrySeiler
06-21-2006, 09:54 AM
At any rate, Larry has often used the phrase, " in the zone" in reference to a state of mind, (or mindlessness) which he wants to attain in painting. To me the phrase is intended to connote a kind of instinctual action in regard to what a person is doing. It is used in sports, and writers use a similar description when talking about writing novels with fictional characters, where dialogue and action seems to be coming from a source beyond the imagination of the writer, ie., happening as the author witnesses it.

So essentially we are drifting into a discussion about the creative state(s) of mind, vs. being distracted by the problems of everyday living, vs. doing something by rote, like a mechanical procedure, that requires no creative thinking or reflection.
Ken

yes...

Artists that have not committed themselves to years of studies, preliminaries, exercises...reading many books, studying much art, intense focus and thought in the act of painting for a long time attempting to get in the zone as though intuition and instinct should be trusted are fooling themselves. Painting has become more fun at this time of my life, and using it as a vehicle to celebrate life...the act of painting itself all joy has come as a result of 30 years of painting.

I would not advocate that beginning painters seek to find this "zone" and trust that their paintings will be anything more than mediocrity or a mess. In fact...the painting won't let them enter that zone. The grunts, the groans, the despair of new plein air painters I am around is obvious of that fact. The painting will taunt and torment you.

Nevertheless...the zone has its own time frame and creeps up on you over much time, many efforts. Little by little as you conqueor minor things, and gain mastery over such...your necessary requirement to stay consciously on top of THAT thing, allows you to forego such...thus allowing yourself to trust your capabilities to execute it rightly. This allows then your energy of focus to be more on the next matter of your development. In time that next matter too is mastered...and after many years of intense discipline so many isolated elements have come together to prove to yourself a mastery, that you enter into a chapter of your life whereby you needn't focus so much on certain/most technical matters.

Often when a student watching me paint asks me..."what did you just do there!" I have to laugh, because I need to step back...think about what I just did and perhaps why. It comes to me...and I realize it was the right decision and I'll explain."

I sometimes compare it as a metaphor, a simple one...to riding a bicycle. The first time you get on...and especially after the first painful fall...your attention is on balance. Not the stop sign...cars coming, or other things you should be, but the immediate danger and real possibility of falling. That is why it is best to go to an empty parking lot so that the other dangers do not have to be worried about.

Once the balance thing is under control...you learn to brake and set your feet down without falling over. Then its time to learn about going down hills and preparing to stop.

Eventually...you can ride the bike no handed wearing headphones jammin' to music, chewing a wad of gum, noting the gorgeous afternoon...and never, not even once are you aware of or thinking about maintaining balance.

Its a simplistic metaphor....but if you break each essential of learning to ride the bike down to months and years as it would painting, it fits. The zone then is at that time you can paint having come to trust yourself in certain matters.

Edgar Payne talks about this as well...during the act of painting. The act itself. I also concur though his emphasis that before painting and after...one takes up analysis, reading about art constantly, looking at pictures, observing nature...all these things must continue. The zone is not a lazy state...it is a well earned position.

People will sometimes note I also say it takes about 120 bad paintings to learn something about painting. The emphasis is not to paint badly, nor think you can entertain the privilege of "the zone"...but that each painting requires focus, intensely...

Outdoors for those that paint on location, this is extremely difficult.

I am glad for that that I painted instudio for near 17 years first...because issues such as values, composition, drawing and rendering and some basic foundations of color were pretty much down. Down enough I built a reputation and career of that chapte of my life.

When I went outdoors I found my challenges and the zone was not so easily entered into. However, after painting outdoors on location for nearly 11 years now...a couple hundred paintings per year on the average...I have worked thru those challenges.

That does not mean I do not have any more challenges...but most of my time is the zone experience.

As Payne would point out...if you set your easel up in the right place, look so that more shadows than light, or more light than shadows has the right balance and is not equal...and then come up with a preliminary plan of execution...then once you start the experienced painter can slip into that zone.

The new painter has a problem outdoors though..and that is that light is elusive. The strong elements of shadows, patterns, design, light is always at a state of threatening the unity of your efforts. The zone is delightful, because from experience you are not going backwards having to work thru such "what should I do's?"....but so I am not misunderstood, I am not saying the painter does not have to earn that place and privilege. Each painting of the 120 bad paintings is not an effort to enter the zone, but an effort to produce good paintings and for sound principles and reasons. The zone will come on its own and should not be the goal. It is cream on the top, floating on the substance and foundation beneath.

Larry
Signature Member- IPAP

FriendCarol
06-21-2006, 01:50 PM
The funny thing is that when I knew nothing at all about painting -- didn't know what value was, couldn't understand what friends meant if they said I needed a 'warmer' blue or whatever -- I was in the zone all the time, with my little abstracts (usually greeting-card size). I had been painting just a little here and there for many years, so I was comfortable with the brush; my colorbox was so limited (not just the number of colors, but there was no real mixing possible with the Pelikan pan gouache!), that I actually used painting as a form of meditation. Iow, it was a very quick and easy way to get into the zone, and that's precisely how I used painting!

If a passerby or friend liked the result, I just gave it to that person. The result was purely incidental, nothing I needed to keep.

Now I'm immersed in learning to paint... During most stages -- thinking up visual elements to express my concept, trying to imagine them in detail, working out a palette, working out composition, painting something that's technically difficult or on unfamiliar paper or with new color (pigment) mix -- it's all work. But already painting the figure now puts me in the zone, and sometimes when I'm properly 'stuck in' on an abstract work, after the initial shapes or colors are there, it happens again. Someday... But then, the 'work' of painting is also very enjoyable, so I'm in no rush. :)

bigflea
06-21-2006, 08:09 PM
Yep it is true the "zone" is not limited by our acquired skills. IOW, someone can have the feeling of "effortlessness", spontaneous action, just the way children do all the time when they play, without having to have a pre determined structure to play "in".

But, when we want to apply the "zone" state to something that requires some acquired skills, it makes sense that the more time we put in studying basic fundamental mechanical problems involving those skills, the better our results ought to be when we enter the "zone".

I know it is not unusual for people to think that painting requires no acquired skills or study, and that the entire point is self expression. And if that is the entire purpose of a painting, then it may be right to so think.

But, in most paintings, one goal is to express an idea in a particular artistic form, some of which are realism, impressionism, or chinese brush painting. Studying the art form, and then using those acquired skills gives a painter greater range of motion to enter a "zone", and still attain the level that a particular art form may demand from them.

I think Payne's comments show that, fundamentally, composition is an underlying foundation for any form of painting that has greater significance later, after techniques are learned. IOW, one can never learn too much about composition , nor over consider it.

Also, by the time Payne and other american painters began studying impressionism, many had realized that in order to apply it to modeling of form, the basic idea had to go further. This was a stated goal even of the French impressionsists. Even they realized there were new problems that developed from the approach, which had to do with color modeling of form in differing light conditions.
Ken

Einion
06-24-2006, 08:49 AM
Given the very profound nature of the illusion on this one - who doesn't see the brown on the front face as orange? - for those that say they would have no trouble painting this could you explain how you'd do it? Given that you see it as orange, so the natural tendency would be to mix orange, the process(es) involved would be useful for people who wouldn't be at all sure they'd get it right.

Einion

bigflea
06-24-2006, 09:37 AM
If you can paint the color relationship between the center red cube in direct light and on the shaded front side, or the relationship between the direct light and shaded side on any of the saturated cubes, then by the same comparative mixing, you can paint the relationship between the center cube, on the direct light side and the shaded side. It's an easier problem than a naturally occuring one because there is no reflecting light or color sources, and no atmospheric perspective to describe.
The only difficulty with it would be trying to make a real painting come off looking like a digital image. I would rather see the real painting, with the element of handcrafting.
Ken

manfrommerriam
07-27-2006, 11:56 PM
It is a surprising illusion. But, if the central square on the facing side was shadowed as is the rest of that side would it not by definition be a darker and possibly grayed version of the top surfaces brown block? So the illusion depends upon an illogical shadow; eh? I think so but of course this is besides the point.
Have fun, Dave

FriendCarol
07-28-2006, 11:52 AM
Btw, as I was rereading some of the comments above (working my way down to the new post), something occurred to me. Even though I have to work in half-hour sessions then lie down (almost half an hour rest, most days) until I can work again, I don't have a problem with changing light conditions.

I just realized that's probably because I use a different palette system than most painters! For ease of mixing & cleanup, I use a variety of small porcelain palettes. When I work plein air, in particular, I use two little porcelain flower palettes -- and one is dedicated just to mixed greens (almost always all are mixed from phthalo green, though!). The reason I do this is that the 'same' green appears repeatedly in different areas of the painting. If I start to run low on a specific green (which happens really quickly when I start using the small natural sponge for foliage!), I can remix the same color easily, based on what's still left in that well.

So if the light changes (as of course it always does, over the 2-3 hours I'm outside), it doesn't matter much to me, because I already have my colors to hand, and I've long since observed the pattern I intend to paint. Of course, painters using a palette with just 1-2 large mixing areas can't 'store' greens (and other specific mixed colors of that image) separately. So naturally it's going to be far more difficult to maintain a consistent 'color key.'

Anyone who wants to try my approach could find a variety of small round palettes (not necessarily porcelain, if weight matters to you) quite cheaply. In fact, I have a couple small 'covered' floral plastic palettes I no longer use, if anyone is interested. The porcelain ones are available for around $3.

My collection now includes a 7-well palette just over 3" across which I use just for figure painting sessions, and 5 9-well palettes. Two are just under 5" across, and 3 just over 5" with slightly shallower but wider wells. (For studio use I also have several porcelain nesting palettes, very useful for painting over several days.) Perhaps the single mixing area palette is great for fast work, but I think us slower painters can benefit from being able to keep our mixes around awhile longer.

stoney
08-04-2006, 10:15 PM
Yes, as to the on-topic question, there are at least 2 ways in which we don't 'paint what we see.' One is the limitations of materials, raised by drollere, as Patrick reminds us. The other is the sort of artists' point raised by expressionism (broadly conceived). Even Loomis suggests stretching the figure, or making other desirable adjustments to what is 'really there.' (I just bought his book on Ebay. :) )

Which one?
The Eye of the Painter?
Creative Illustration?
Drawig Head & Hands?
Fun With A Pencil?
Successful Drawing?

FriendCarol
08-04-2006, 10:24 PM
OT:
Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, I think is the title; on the spine it just says "Figure Drawing." First published in 1943, and my edition dates from 1966.
Hi, stoney, did you find the new Chat thread here? I slept much of the day, but copied some WDE images to a floppy, now sitting on the painting table's laptop waiting for me to wake up. (Probably tomorrow.)

stoney
08-04-2006, 11:33 PM
OT:
Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, I think is the title; on the spine it just says "Figure Drawing." First published in 1943, and my edition dates from 1966.
Hi, stoney, did you find the new Chat thread here? I slept much of the day, but copied some WDE images to a floppy, now sitting on the painting table's laptop waiting for me to wake up. (Probably tomorrow.)

Oops. Looks like I missed one title. I've got 'Fun With A pencil' in hardback and the rest (including 'Fun') as PDF files.

Um, not sure about the chat thread.

tbolt
08-05-2006, 12:44 AM
i'm interested in the answer to Einions response in #40.

i see orange on the shaded side on here.i understand photo optic illusions.
I do not have photoshop, or 30 years experience painting.
but i still would like to know the answer.

Unless an artist is a photo realist copying lighting accents, etc. , does it make a difference?

FriendCarol
08-05-2006, 11:24 AM
for those that say they would have no trouble painting this could you explain how you'd do it?I'm not as experienced as some, but I probably wouldn't have much trouble with it. (Particularly since I can see through this illusion quite easily, particularly using an 'aperture' of just my fingers, isolating the color.) So the first answer is, use an aperture (a hole in something that blocks the surroundings, to isolate the color).

That's not how I'd tackle it myself, though. :D I'd start to mix the color, lay a bit on my scrap paper and wait for it to dry, glance back at the target (what color I wanted the mixture to be), and notice how what I'd mixed differed from it. Then I'd adjust my mix, paint another scrap bit, glance back again, notice the remaining difference, adjust it again, etc. That's basically how I approach all color mixing if I want elements in my painting to resemble closely what I see.

What I'd like to know is, how do other people approach mixing colors??? Or, if the color is highly subject to illusion (as in the context of this cube), do you just not notice your mix is different from what's there? Beyond that, if you didn't notice the difference -- surely if you put the wrong color down in context, you would at least notice it was wrong at that point? :confused:

Seems to me the only way to paint it wrong would be to mix some memory of a color, and put that down, without ever looking back at the reference. I know we sometimes can't match brightness (um, lightness and chroma) with pigments, but surely if a color mix is very off it looks off even to someone who originally thought the color was different? We don't paint our memories of colors, do we?

tbolt
08-05-2006, 01:37 PM
i can see they are the same now using a paper with a hole in it.
could this be seen as an example of how to be careful in color choice when moving into a darkly shadowed area of a painting?

WaltWally
08-05-2006, 03:08 PM
Stoney wrote:I've got 'Fun With A pencil' in hardback and the rest (including 'Fun') as PDF files.
How does one acquire Loomis' work as PDF files. pray tell?

stoney
08-05-2006, 07:04 PM
Stoney wrote:
How does one acquire Loomis' work as PDF files. pray tell?

http://www.fineart.sk [loomis and pics]

As far as I know the site does not have "The Eye Of The Painter" which was published two years after Loomis' death.

tbolt
08-05-2006, 11:59 PM
Viewing two colors at the same time influences both of their appearances. The following is an example of induction, a variation of simultaneous contrast.
Instructions: In the top half of the diagram below are two identical dark gray patches on a like background. The bottom half of the diagram shows the same dark gray patches on different backgrounds. You will see that they appear different because of their surroundings.
http://www.colorcube.com/illusions/scindctn1.gif
The same phenomenon occurs when colors are used. Note that identical yellow patches in the middle of different colors appear to take on the characteristics of their surroundings.
http://www.colorcube.com/illusions/scindctn2.gif

The COLORCUBE website is sponsored by ImageMAKER Developmen (http://www.imgmaker.com/)

Are you showing an example of "induction" as illustrated above? but with shadows?
(http://www.imgmaker.com/)


(http://www.imgmaker.com/)

tbolt
08-06-2006, 12:13 AM
Too much method, if I understand what you mean correctly, can indeed be a problem IMO because then how you're doing something can become more important than what you're doing. I think this is one of the fundamental issues with learner painters who can become too involved in the mechanics and lose sight of the bigger picture (pun intended :)) and it's a stage I'm sure almost everyone goes through, I can clearly remember it myself.

yep, it's right for me.. i'm beginning to understand, the light bulbs are going on .

bruin70
08-06-2006, 12:39 AM
i'm not about to read a thread this long, so forgive me if i miss a few things.

anyways, measuring value/color through a hole is a pain in the @ss. use your brush or pencilt or some sort of straightedge with a constant value, and measure value/color along that constant..

let's say you want to gauge the value of this models whites of her eyes...or her forehead to her cheek, for instance.

just lay your brush handle/pencil along what you want to measure and compare the two values to the constant.

on the right, her forehead is lighter than any part of her cheek, and the white of her eye is darker than any part of her cheek. her eye is about the same as where her eyelid starts to get dark as it turns to the brow.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Aug-2006/205-values.jpg

tbolt
08-06-2006, 01:02 AM
it's good to see your comments, milt

Richard Saylor
08-06-2006, 02:14 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Aug-2006/31398-31398-cube.gif

Hmmm....:D

LarrySeiler
08-06-2006, 01:16 PM
after about a month of doing workshops, working with painters outdoors, doing exhibitions and paintings myself...I am back to this thread. I think I've been home perhaps seven days since the 3rd of July...

Interestingly I am gaining more appreciation for Payne's and Gruppe's teaching advice and work outdoors as with a limited palette I experiment with systems of color approaches outdoors. Systems such as a values oriented premixed palette...a "pigment soup" with a dominant color pulled into each color mix... a complementary palette, and my favorite of late the split-complementary palette.

for years and years instudio...I simply focused and thought not a second thought about painting just what I saw. Since much of my references were photos and a studio offers endless time to get a thing down...tweak upon tweak, fiddlin' upon fiddlin'...I would arrive at a realistic work that represented what I saw...or thought to have seen directly.

Painting a subject outdoors presents a different situation. Light that constantly changes.

The "paint what you see" approach has more challenges outdoors where one thing painted changes in short order due to the light changing. Novices to plein air often go back to change what was painted to accomodate the newer thing painted, and a constant battle of tweaks. IN essence, they chase the light.

If one gets over their many failed efforts and simply takes into account that that will be the cost of gaining experience, in time skill and facility will develop. Its one reason I coined a good time back that it takes about 120 bad paintings (outdoors) to learn something about painting. Many artists in other forums have taken to actually counted their efforts.

Churchill's quote, "success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" is a good one to keep one going.

I found though that many students harbor a good deal of insecurity and are often easily intimidated. By students...I am referring to adults in workshops.

I don't see many easily accepting the proposition of endless failures to reach perhaps in a year or two works that show the daring and confidence necessary to paint well outdoors.

Yes...it can be done...but it takes nerve and brass underwear! :)

Now...based then on what I have observed, less experienced artists have shown much greater progress and confidence to use a system I have introduced from Edgar Payne or Emile Gruppe...content to produce better works that will improve in time, rather than outright failures that seem to offer little hope.

A working system allows in time (as Payne encouraged) for the artist to sidetrack and intuit or go with a gut hunch. A system also allows for the artist later to analyze the work back instudio and come to see where perhaps the failure entered into the picture.

Painting what one sees...when what one sees is in a state of constant change often only gives the artist the sense of simply having failed, or worse being a failure.

Yet...as my students in Juneau came to realize...sensing the work could have worked out better the approach aside from "direct seeing" gives them a basis to reflect and come to think perhaps they began by wrongly determing the dominant present color, and so forth.

In a sense...so long as the dominant color is rightly determined, the finished work with a systematic foundational approach will feel right, and seem to the artist to have well represented the moment and be accurate.

In upper Michigan, I did a number of paintings...I'll share a few...but in my own experimentations I could see how a system made painting feel more like a piece of cake. A sense of greater ease.

This is a 5"x7" oil...done in about 25 minutes...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Aug-2006/532-deadriver_splitcompwc.jpg

I elected a violet to be my dominant...and used yellow-green and yellow-orange as my splits...plus white.

This next one I painted two days ago, later afternoon...a big drop off of gorgeous rock over looking Lake Superior...
first the blockin...using a modified Gruppe reddish undertone...plus you see some painting strokes that have begun over the top...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Aug-2006/532-lookoutpoint_blockin.jpg

Here it is, 9"x 12" finished...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Aug-2006/532-lookoutpointwc.jpg

loosely speaking...my palette was also a split complementary...more a reddish violet with yellow green and yellow orange. I also modified with the water abandoning at one point a strict split restriction. Remembering Edgar Payne who in teaching such systems said the artist must at some point in following a scheme or strategy opt to go with their gut hunch or intuition when called for, which assures individuality.

this was an experiment off an earlier plein air...trying a different dominant emphasis and a split-primary palette-

8x10
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Aug-2006/532-admiraltyview_reworkedsplitcompwc2.jpg

One might argue against any use of system as we wish from a purist stand to argue for painting what one sees. Thing is though, that is easier said than done outdoors.

After reading one comment from Payne...it occurred to me that anyone that is painting outdoors is from the get go accomodating that "direct seeing" approach and going with compromises even though they may not be aware of it.

Payne suggested that outdoor light is 2,000 to 3,000 times more brilliant than what pigment can suggest. He also suggests that the eye can detect 400 variations in values outdoors, but that pigment can at best capture only about 40 values.

Attempting to paint realistically outdoors is in a sense then to accept that one cannot do justice to nature and thus to paint outdoors makes no sense at all...or at the very least that every effort is an interpretation.

Once you come to terms to accept that an effort is an interpretation, then a system approach does not seem to be that great of a breach of integrity. It certainly is a more promising prospect for the beginner or intermediate to use such.

I can paint direct, have for perhaps 25 of my 30 years of painting...am quite fast and can be very bold. My students saw that recently...but, I also enjoy experimenting to see what may come. I've been enjoying the system approach, and premixing the palette shows the eye straight off that the palette harmonizes and shows unity before the painting even begins.

So...as we discuss painting what one sees...it might be useful for folks to take into consideration what that means for the one attempting to do such from life outdoors where constant change of light is the constant.