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MChesleyJohnson
01-19-2008, 07:18 AM
As I work on my new book, I find myself revisiting assumptions I've made over the years. One of those assumptions is that the absolute minimum number of pastel sticks one needs is 60. I arrived at that number by considering my traditional split-primary oil palette. For the pastel version, I use a warm and a cool version, in five value steps, of each of the three primaries and three secondaries. Sixty isn't bad, but I wondered if I could do with fewer.

I took a closer look at my oil palette. I don't have 60 colors there. I have only six: a warm and cool version of each of the primaries, plus white. Could I actually use so few sticks of pastel? I decided not, because if you need a secondary, it's hard to mix it from the primaries and get intense chroma. I do sometimes put the secondaries on my oil palette, so I decided to do the same for my "extreme" limited pastel palette.

I began to pick out pastels. I wanted to make sure I had good darks, so from among my NuPastels, I picked out blues, greens and violets that were as dark as I could find. I also wanted good lights, so I picked out reds, oranges and yellows that were as light as I could find. Finally, I wanted to be able to adjust the value easily, so I included black and white. Pastel manufacturers use black and white to create shades and tints, so why couldn't I?

All told, I ended up with 14 sticks. Here's a picture of my palette:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Jan-2008/3644-extreme_limited_pastel_palette.jpg

Here is one of several 5x7 plein air pastel I did with this "extreme" limited palette. It thrilled me to think that I could do this with just 14 sticks!

"Walk Through the Fire"
5x7 pastel, en plein air

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Jan-2008/3644-walk_though_fire_9292.jpg

I'm going to play more with this and see what tradeoffs are necessary for this "extreme" limited palette.

Paula Ford
01-19-2008, 09:04 AM
WOW, this is beautiful! What a great discussion Michael. I have often thought about the same things as you have written here.

Thank you!

Paula

mrking
01-19-2008, 09:10 AM
This is very interesting to see. The painting is very nice, 14 sticks or not.

Would love to see more samples down the road.

Donna T
01-19-2008, 09:16 AM
Very interesting, Michael. I sometimes think I'll never have enough pastels but then having too many choices could be a problem,too. Nice painting!

Donna

Orchidacea
01-19-2008, 09:37 AM
That's really interesting! I seriously need to learn more about color.

K Taylor-Green
01-19-2008, 09:42 AM
So, what am I going to do with all these pastels on my work table!?:eek: :D

Interesting point of view, Michael. I used to paint in oil and loved mixing colors, but was frustrated by it sometimes as well. I think that is one of the reasons I love my pastels. I just choose what I need. And yes, sometimes it is hard to choose because I have so many! I shall definitely have to play with this idea some. But please don't tell my husband!:lol:

MChesleyJohnson
01-19-2008, 09:42 AM
I've found that "too many choices" is exactly the problem, Donna. After putting aside the pastels for awhile to work more in oil, I found that I really use my oil palette in a very calculated, scientific way. Since I lay out my oil palette like a color wheel, with warm to the left and cool to the right, it makes it easy to change color temperature in my mixtures. Want to cool a mixture? Add something from the right (cool direction) on the palette. Want to warm it? Add something from the left (warm direction). Pastels, although we may try to lay them out this way, just seem overwhelming at times with all the choices.

Especially when manufacturers add all those funky colors. Gosh, I love that caribbean aqua color I find now and then. And some of those red-violets are to die for! But I find they just confuse the issue.

I figured it would be simpler to try to replicate my oil palette, and also add white and black so I could lighten or darken a color. And it worked!

Now, all that said...with these snow paintings (and the other snow paintings I've been doing in this project), I am lacking mid-value blues, cool and warm. I can mix them from my dark blues and the white, and successfully. But it does take more work. However, I'm not so locked to my palette that I can't add a couple of mid-value blues! I didn't do it, but in retrospect, I would have. I feel these 14 colors (plus black and white) are a good base, and anything you add to it would be for convenience.

More to come!

MChesleyJohnson
01-19-2008, 09:45 AM
I think that this would be a good exercise for anyone who works predominantly in pastel. It forces you to think about your color choices, but perhaps more important, to learn how to use color temperature rather than value to describe light and shadow. You can certainly do this without it, but I think oil painters have always had a "leg up" on pastel painters because they are used to thinking in color mixtures this way.

Psssst...Katherine, you can sell those extra pastels to me. Anyone got a full set of Rembrandts they want to unload? Seriously.

bchlvr
01-19-2008, 10:08 AM
Gorgeous! Fantastic work!

Westerngirl
01-19-2008, 10:20 AM
Well, this is an appropriate thread for me to read this morning, since I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon trying to "reorganize" all those pastel sticks that have wandered out of place over the last month or so! :eek:

This is a wonderful piece, and your observations are right on, I think. But how do we all break our addictions to those sparkling little sticks of color? :cool: That's the real problem for me! I figured out long ago what few oil colors I needed on my palette when I work in that medium, and I very rarely am tempted to add anything new, because my basic palette works so well for me, and I know it. But those pesty pastel sticks CALL MY NAME when I wander into an art supply store!

Seriously, before I start a painting, I spend some time selecting the sticks I will need, a warm and cool of each color, and the mid-tones, and some hard pastels for underpainting. I try to limit it, and I try not to add to the selection during the painting, unless I absolutely MUST. It keeps my feeble brain from being overwhelmed, I think, and it definitely works better for me.

But saving money on fewer pastel sticks? That would probably be against my basic business philosophy, which, proven over the years is something like "Buy high, sell low"!!!! :wink2:

Deborah Secor
01-19-2008, 11:03 AM
No time to read through the whole thread, so I should probably wait to post this, but I'm teaching a class this week using Maggie's six color/value underpainting. Her palette looks a lot like this one in that she uses warm lights and cool darks. Do you know the one I mean, Michael? All the shadows have blues, all the sunny areas have yellows, as an underpainting. Very interesting results. She says her students have profited amazingly from this...

I'll be bak to read more later.

Deborah

Kathryn Wilson
01-19-2008, 12:01 PM
Great thread Michael! I have a table full of pastel sticks and I have started out picking out my palette first with the base color, plus one lighter and one darker value of each.

I love limited palette work - so I shall try your method too!

PeggyB
01-19-2008, 01:35 PM
This is an interesting approach Michael. I do have a question though. Do you have NuPastels that are light fast? It doesn't make much sense to create such lovely paintings only to have them fade within a relatively short period of time. Just like Canson papers that are "completely" covered with pastel will fade with time, non-lightfast pastels also fade when "completely" covered. But then you most likely know that too.

For those who are newer to pastels, not all pastel companies use black and/or white to create shades and tints of their colors. It is primarily lower priced pastels that do so (now I didn't say all lower priced, but rather primarily lower priced - meaning some higher priced pastels use black and/or white too).

Peggy

DAK723
01-19-2008, 02:42 PM
I think that this would be a good exercise for anyone who works predominantly in pastel. It forces you to think about your color choices, but perhaps more important, to learn how to use color temperature rather than value to describe light and shadow. You can certainly do this without it, but I think oil painters have always had a "leg up" on pastel painters because they are used to thinking in color mixtures this way.

I have just returned, bruised and battered from the oil forum, and must report that oil painters don't have a leg up on anyone! Someone brought up color temperature in a thread there, and a few folks like me recommended learning about it, using it as another "tool" to help create artwork. Well, you would have thought we were advocating slavery! Color temperature was deemed (by a few narrow-minded bullies) irrelevant, useless, and better ignored. I'm so glad the folks in the pastel community can discuss things in an atmosphere of civility!

I think there is a lot to be said for limiting the pallete. Color harmonies are easier to control and paintings are often more likely to maintain a sense of unity. Without really thinking about it, I probably use no more than between 12 and 20 pastels on a single piece. That being said, however, each piece might use a different 12 to 20. So a large selection in still a good thing to have.

Don K.

MChesleyJohnson
01-19-2008, 03:01 PM
Deborah - No, I haven't seen Maggie's approach. I have come across her "basic value set" at Terry Ludwig's site, though. It's similar to what I'm looking for in a basic set, but the colors aren't quite right.

Peggy - Alas, no. I avoid the sticks that aren't lightfast; they're pretty obvious, because they are faded in the box. I know all about lightfastness, thanks, though others here may not. Used in underpainting -- which is typically where I use them -- and when covered up with lightfast pastels from other manufacturers, the effect isn't so pronounced. Hardly noticeable, in fact. But thanks for the input. (Time to get that Polychromos set so I don't get asked that question again.... ;) )

I also know about the black/white issue and that some manufacturers don't use it. Some do, though. Black and white worked pretty well for me in mixing for a couple of the little studies I've done.

Don -- Temperature is King. :)

Donna A
01-19-2008, 05:10 PM
Hi, Michael. Interesting thead! I've commented a couple of times the last year or so about the lovely "lesson" I had from Elaine Lierly-Jones when I first met her taking one of my plein air workshops. Her husband had returned to college to earn a new degree and they were living for several years on her income alone---and paying all the tuition, etc, and all she could manage was a box of 12 pastels. WOW! What she did with those twelve sticks! It was amazing and wonderful!!! :-) Was a joy to see what she did! Yes---a LOT of what I call 'weaving' of colors. Very loose, rich, exciting and yet still very representational! I will never forget that! She used a lot of vigorous strokes that played over and around others. I should ask her if she ever made a photo of it. It's been over five or six years.

For plein air painting, I'm happy to have a broad range of colors since it certainly lets me work at my fastest, which is so useful for plein air in particular. (Elaine these days likes her broad range of colors, too!) :-)

But so often when I am working with an oil or acrylic painter who is having troubles with color and color mixing---I take them down to a warm and a cool of the three primaries plus white! Yes---soooo much easier to learn color at a deeper level that way, I believe!

And I am also a HUGE believer in the blessings of strong awareness and use of Temperature! Both on the Color Wheel---and also Temperature within the Hue! Two different animals in their own ways---and yet, of course, utterly related! I so often use Monet as an example of the great use of temp to describe form and just shake my head at those who are not aware that it can play a great and grand roll in form as well as value. Look at some Monets in b/w illustrations and the can inspire a question as to why anyone would get excited about HIS work! Not everything needs to be value-driven, though value is also a very strong player and what I consider all four Color Qualities share importance equally! (As in, which leg is more important to you---your right or your left?) Some qualities are more difficult to identify in some situations and in others, other qualities---but all important.

Working with pastel painters, there I do think it is so important to have as part of the color collection those particular colors that seem so necessary "to make certain things happen," but for myself and those I work with, I'm more concerned that they learn to identify the color qualities in their sticks and in their subject. Still, an interesting question to look to what might be considered working with a 'bare bones' group of pastels. With the Pan Pastels I've so been enjoying, the 60 colors there have are actually groups of three---a shade, tint and pure of 18 different colors---and has been rather fun getting the feel of mixing very subtle variations in values as well as temperature and intensity variations within a hue. And using fewer color choices can certainly inspire some ways of painting that might call on an artist to reach deeper into themselves and to also break beyond some of the self-imposed limits one might not understand are in play! Will be interesting to see what you do with this! Take good care! Donna;-}

Deborah Secor
01-19-2008, 05:38 PM
I think that this would be a good exercise for anyone who works predominantly in pastel. It forces you to think about your color choices, but perhaps more important, to learn how to use color temperature rather than value to describe light and shadow. You can certainly do this without it, but I think oil painters have always had a "leg up" on pastel painters because they are used to thinking in color mixtures this way.

Okay, wait a sec. I need a little expansion here. Apparently you and Mike and Donna A and others are talking the same language fluently here, but I want to know more about what you mean by using "color temperature rather than value..."?

Temperature means warm/cool colors, right? (Well, duh...yeah.) But what function other than creating depth does temperature have in this instance? I apply it to Carlson's theory of yellow-red-blue progression or to what Anne Templeton called something fancy...um...you wrote the book, so you'll remember :rolleyes: ...something like 'spectromatic progression', as in the idea that as things recede they become cooler and bluer. But I think you all have a handle on something I'm not quite comfy with. Help me out here, would ya? I think I'm fairly sophisticated (maybe I flatter myself) but this feels like a weird slippery spot to me.

What have I missed here?

Deborah

Orchidacea
01-19-2008, 06:04 PM
Please keep talking, folks--I'm listening intently. I don't know much at all about color temperature, and I've a feeling maybe I should....

klord
01-19-2008, 06:06 PM
HI Michael, Great thread here!

I would like to comment on Deborah's question regarding "color temperature rather than value" to turn form or create space. Within a mass, say of a group of trees, mountains, a figure's light or dark side, one can create the feeling of space within the form with just a temperature change. I totally agree with Michael, that this comes more naturally for one who is used to mixing paint to create that temp. change. Because we usually do not have the subtlety in temp without it jumping in value in our sticks.

I was just outside painting this morning, the landscape had an extremely narrow value range. To help create the feeling of depth, I wanted to use only temperature changes instead of a value change because it was so subtle. I really failed, because my shadow shapes within the background hills had toooo much value change, and thus did not describe the atmosphere correctly.

For an exercise, I like to take a photo that has a lot of depth in it and pick out an area in the background that has no/extremely little value change and make a painting out of it to practice these subtleties.

I love this talk!!

Deborah Secor
01-19-2008, 06:47 PM
*groan* I guess I need some visuals... (Where is the head-smacking smiley?)

Within a mass, say of a group of trees... one can create the feeling of space within the form with just a temperature change.
Let's start with trees for the landscape painter, okay?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Jan-2008/23609-michael1.jpg

Clearly we have a temperature change here in Michael's trees. Yellower-green comes in front, cooler blueish green recedes. Values about the same--maybe the yellow-green is a hair lighter. Is that the simple answer? Or is there more I don't get?

Can you show me an example of what you mean and explain why it's different from the consideration of value?

We usually do not have the subtlety in temp without it jumping in value in our sticks.
This kinda makes me boggle a bit too. Okay, my far too limited experience with oils doesn't prepare me to understand anything experientially, but in pastels I think I could make a pretty subtle rounding of form using two colors with some work, weaving the layers to make a subtle value change. Are you saying something different?

Sorry to be so dense... thanks for your patience, Kim [Lordier], and all of you. Glad you're listening intently, the other Kim! :wink2:

Deborah

Jo Castillo
01-19-2008, 07:06 PM
I commented on your blog, Michael. The painting is beautiful and colorful. I'm enjoying and learning from this thread. Thanks all.

klord
01-19-2008, 07:26 PM
*groan* I guess I need some visuals... (Where is the head-smacking smiley?)


Let's start with trees for the landscape painter, okay?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Jan-2008/23609-michael1.jpg

Clearly we have a temperature change here in Michael's trees. Yellower-green comes in front, cooler blueish green recedes. Values about the same--maybe the yellow-green is a hair lighter. Is that the simple answer? Or is there more I don't get?

Can you show me an example of what you mean and explain why it's different from the consideration of value?


This kinda makes me boggle a bit too. Okay, my far too limited experience with oils doesn't prepare me to understand anything experientially, but in pastels I think I could make a pretty subtle rounding of form using two colors with some work, weaving the layers to make a subtle value change. Are you saying something different?

Sorry to be so dense... thanks for your patience, Kim [Lordier], and all of you. Glad you're listening intently, the other Kim! :wink2:

Deborah

I think it is that simple!:) You do it naturally in your work, Deborah, when keeping your shapes together in value while adding interest with color. The example you have shown from a detail of Michael's piece is just as you described, warmer greens moving forward, cooler receding, all the while the mass is kept strong and interesting by a very limited value range. But he could get away with a yellow/green that was the same value and still describe the form. But he had an extremely limited palette... amazing to see what can be done with just those 14!!

I think the difference with pastel and oil is that it is easier to mix a warmer version of a color and a cooler version of the same color and keep the value the same with oil, than having to find the right pastel stick to tone the temperature and value of a color in order to keep it in the value range that you are working in, because our sticks come with a certain degree of value change within a color family. I think Unison, and the way they string their colors together really revolutionized the industry, for me.. keeping a tighter value range and combining/mixing colors instead of using black and white to shade or tint the colors. Terry Ludwig has even tightenen the value range within a color family even further.

And yes, you/we do it all the time blending/weaving two colors to round form and create depth, and you do it beautifully!

So with all that I said, which probably doesn't make any sense because I have never really tried to write about this before... Sorry if this is confusing... it is my writing and not you! :) but, I think it is that simple, just as you described. And if it is not that simple, I want Michael and Donna A to please elaborate further. Pretty please with sugar on top! :D

Deborah Secor
01-19-2008, 11:47 PM
Okay, thanks Kim. I guess the reason I'm wondering is because to me the issue of temperature seems secondary to value as a tool. Maybe it's just that simple--I know Donna says it's so important, using the leg analogy, but somehow I've just never been able to get that. Maybe I should start another thread...

I agree that working with a limited palette can strengthen work. I teach a class where I have my students choose ten pastels, based on a photograph they plan to paint. I advise them to choose darks and lights, and any key colors in the photo. They have a half-hour to compose the painting (usually a small one), and at the end of that time they're allowed to add ONE more color, because there's always one they desperately need. Then they finsh the work with those 11 colors. It forces them to move fast (as changing light on location would) and make strong compromises with color in favor of getting the right value. I always tell them that it really doesn't matter that much what color it is as long as the value is on the money, but of course you'll never have as much sense of depth unless the colors become cooler in the distance. But that's landscapes...

I have a painting in my kitchen of a bright green apple on a hot pink ground. I contend that I could paint a hot pink apple on a green ground and have the whole thing work equally well, as long as I nailed the values. Doncha think??? I mean, there's little depth, the subject doesn't rely on color to describe it, and thus the warm/cool relationships (temperature) are moot. Where am I going wrong, if I am?

Deborah

Donna A
01-20-2008, 02:26 AM
*groan* I guess I need some visuals... (Where is the head-smacking smiley?)
Deborah Secor

Okay, wait a sec. I need a little expansion here. Apparently you and Mike and Donna A and others are talking the same language fluently here, but I want to know more about what you mean by using "color temperature rather than value..."?
Hi, Deborah! There ARE occasions where color temp shows the form far more than the values---and times where they are both at play---and then times where the color temp of the light source(s) are all pretty much fully balanced and temperature changes do not come very much into play at all, save issues of reflected lights, etc. So---here are some images. The first is one of the still life set ups I made for class---where I often like to set up things within a Hue family, since it helps artists see color changes so much more easily. The north-facing skylight is to the left of the set up and the 200W incandescent spot light to the right---with tremendously different color temps within those two light sources. Geee---this is another one of those times where I wish Scotty could just beam us into the same room. :-) I do whole classes---and a DVD---on this, so trying to figure out how to do a few sentences with the pics. Let's start with this b/w detail photo of the still life:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-Green-Still-Life-cover_detailbw.jpg
Check out the form on the lidded porcelain jar, the apples and pear. Fairly ho-hum for the most part, especially the pear and the jar! With color:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-Green-Still-Life-cover_detail.jpg
The items show considerable difference in color on their right and left sides depending on what the color of the light source is that is hitting different planes of the items. Temperature absolutely trumps value change in the jar and in the pear, and play much greater roles in the apples in some areas. Notice the cloth---to the left side---where in the b/w only the really dark shadow is readily noticeable but in the color pic, we can see the fabrics changes in planes---that is---the forms of their folds which face different directions and take on either the orangey-golden color of the 3400 degree Kelvin incandescent 200W bulb to the right---or the 7500 degree K north light glowing from the left and down onto the planes of items turned in that direction. Where lights on either sides are different and both strong, the value may not be a single and/or light/dark---but rather more of a change in temperature. As is happening here.

Now--there are certainly some dandy dark shadowy areas, too, where neither strong light source can get to those particular areas.

The larger set up---notice the color of the shadows on either side of the lime to the left, among other interesting color activities. And---there are a couple of rectangle graphics superimposed on this shot which was actually used in one of my Mastering Color dvds, so just ignore that.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-Green-Still-Life-coverbw.jpg
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-Green-Still-Life-cover.jpg
Each light source here gives a different colored shadow. :-) If Scotty were only available, we could go sooo deeply into this and all the luscious and exciting ways of using some of these things---that, if outdoors, occurs to greater and lesser degrees depending on how sunny a day at what season, etc. I had so much fun painting this. Outdoors---here is an old landscape, but one that seems like a handy example at the moment. Lot of lighter areas and very much darker shadows. But some lovely forms come alive only with the warms and cools---accompanied by some variety in intensity, which is also a deliciously wonderful asset for us!
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-BottomForty-500bw.jpg
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-BottomForty-500.jpg
I don't know how well it shows up here, but there are pale low-intensity bluish-violet-colored planes that are very similar in value to other planes that are quite warm and more intense. The temperature of the color is the greatest difference between the two 'lighter groups of planes' on the ground.

Temperature means warm/cool colors, right? (Well, duh...yeah.) But what function other than creating depth does temperature have in this instance? I apply it to Carlson's theory of yellow-red-blue progression or to what Anne Templeton called something fancy...um...you wrote the book, so you'll remember ...something like 'spectromatic progression', as in the idea that as things recede they become cooler and bluer. But I think you all have a handle on something I'm not quite comfy with. Help me out here, would ya? I think I'm fairly sophisticated (maybe I flatter myself) but this feels like a weird slippery spot to me.

What have I missed here?
Space isn't just linear---one-directional front-to-back. It's also sideways and up-and-down---and all the additional combinations therein. And deep atmospheric occurrences that DaVinci first noted (the spectrometric progressions) are only one of the things that play on the color of things. Doesn't do us much good for a portrait or still life---nor for a more intimate landscape that does not go on for scores of miles. But even for the landscapes where we can see into the scene for 50 or 100 miles-plus, there are so many other issues about color as well.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-g-LemonsOnGray-500bw.jpg
If this gray silk scarf was land masses, instead---there would be areas that were showing lighter and darker in value, but also areas that, as here, might likely also be showing the same value but quite different in warms and cools---depending on the color of the predominant light source striking any particular plane.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-g-LemonsOnGray-500.jpg
Here, even though many of the objects are grays, the light sources add color---colors of different temperatures on the color wheel. On the green still life above, the colors were often simply different temperatures of greens---and that is why I always always consider not only Temperature on the Color Wheel, but also Temperature within the Hue! Both can invoke form or at least play a part in enhancing that form brought out by value, when the later is the stronger quality.




Deborah

Let's start with trees for the landscape painter, okay?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/19-Jan-2008/23609-michael1.jpg

Clearly we have a temperature change here in Michael's trees. Yellower-green comes in front, cooler blueish green recedes. Values about the same--maybe the yellow-green is a hair lighter. Is that the simple answer? Or is there more I don't get?

Can you show me an example of what you mean and explain why it's different from the consideration of value? <snip>
Deborah
Here's one more example---again showing a difference in planes (forms.)
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-GardenMumsInClayPot-600-detail-bw.jpg
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-GardenMumsInClayPot-600-detail.jpg
Another still life painted from life---the side of this big pot has a large area to the right that looks mostly the same value---but when seen in color, the shifts in the planes as the pot curves around---and interacts a bit differently with the light sources---can be seen, even though the values in that darker area are very similar. There are areas in the yellow flowers (all picked out of my garden just before painting) that are warmer and cooler (lemony yellows which are going toward green which is going toward blue, as opposed to the warmer yellows which are going towards orange which is going towards red which bring all three primaries into play---and I could go on and on about that but won't.) The little pink mums also have warms and cools, both showing some of their form---along with the values serving in greater and lesser degrees---as well as their placement in relationship to other items and to the light sources. The whole painting:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-GardenMumsInClayPot-500-bw.jpg
Even in the table cloth, the warms and cools play important parts in showing the form of the rumples and wrinkles and fold lines---along with value. They do not have to be either/or. They can play together, as well as situations where the value seems to be the same, and only the temp changes noticeably to show the form, as Michael was indicating.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/77048-GardenMumsInClayPot-500.jpg
I hope that gives some additional ideas that make more sense of this---and hope the pics do not loose tooo much in the color qualities, though I know some of the real effects go missing. There are so many utterly delicious qualities that all work together in the real world that are ours for the harvesting. We can and do all focus on different aspects, so often necessarily because of the wealth of possibilities, but I do love knowing the options that are 'out there.' Very exciting! Enjoy! Donna ;-}

klord
01-20-2008, 02:43 AM
Okay, thanks Kim. I guess the reason I'm wondering is because to me the issue of temperature seems secondary to value as a tool. Maybe it's just that simple--I know Donna says it's so important, using the leg analogy, but somehow I've just never been able to get that. Maybe I should start another thread...

I agree that working with a limited palette can strengthen work. I teach a class where I have my students choose ten pastels, based on a photograph they plan to paint. I advise them to choose darks and lights, and any key colors in the photo. They have a half-hour to compose the painting (usually a small one), and at the end of that time they're allowed to add ONE more color, because there's always one they desperately need. Then they finsh the work with those 11 colors. It forces them to move fast (as changing light on location would) and make strong compromises with color in favor of getting the right value. I always tell them that it really doesn't matter that much what color it is as long as the value is on the money, but of course you'll never have as much sense of depth unless the colors become cooler in the distance. But that's landscapes...

I have a painting in my kitchen of a bright green apple on a hot pink ground. I contend that I could paint a hot pink apple on a green ground and have the whole thing work equally well, as long as I nailed the values. Doncha think??? I mean, there's little depth, the subject doesn't rely on color to describe it, and thus the warm/cool relationships (temperature) are moot. Where am I going wrong, if I am?

Deborah

Hi Deborah,

I agree with you 100% on the importance of value over color, especially when creating a sense of light within the two dimensional plane. I also agree that if the right value has been selected just about any color will do. However, I do think that color choice and the usage of color is so important to the process, and color temperature is yet another tool with which to convey a point of view or feeling to go along with the powerful statement of the value pattern. I also strongly feel that keeping those value patterns close, and not breaking them up too much with larger leaps in the value scale creates strength in a painting, thus I rely heavily on color temperature change within a mass of value. In the few workshops that I have had the honor to give, I always preface with, this is just one way of so many ways to do this great thing we call art, and this is what I am passionate about. So I really don't think it is a matter of right or wrong, maybe it is just a matter of one artists passion vs. another, and when one is teaching a method, process, or the basics, certain things will be emphasized because of the specific passions of the individual instructor. (Boy, that was a run on sentence if I ever saw one!!)

But here in lies the heart of the issue... we all have our own sensibilities and individual aesthetic. As I sit here writing this and reading it back, I sound so pompous or like I think I know it all, but I know that I don't, and that I have soooo much more to learn and think about. What is beautiful about this forum, I am discovering, is the chance to actually discuss these issues that I feel strongly about, or read about how others solve problems, and the many ways in which said problems can be addressed, and actually get feedback that makes me rethink my methodology.

Oh, can I steal your excercise with the limited colors??:D

Kim

MChesleyJohnson
01-20-2008, 03:21 AM
Yikes! What have I created? :)

Much to read. I'll be back.

MChesleyJohnson
01-20-2008, 05:18 AM
Great discussion! I think Donna and the others pretty much laid out the background for my statement:

"It forces you to think about your color choices, but perhaps more important, to learn how to use color temperature rather than value to describe light and shadow."

I didn't mean that you should use color temperature to describe light and shadow at the exclusion of value. But quite often, beginners, in order to distinguish light from shadow, will push the value contrast too much and make the lit areas far too light. A more satisfactory approach is to not push the value contrast, but to push the color temperature contrast instead.

For example, on dark green conifers, I've had students put some incredibly light greens in the sunlit areas; I show them how much more effective it is if you don't make the light areas SO light and instead warm up the light and cool down the shadows. Rather than use such a light green, just use a warmer green or even an orange.

If you really look at sunlit conifers, you'll see that the value contrast isn't as much as it appears at first glance. The contrast you're seeing is enhanced by the temperature differences.

This concept is a powerful tool that lots of beginners don't use.

Donna T
01-20-2008, 09:01 AM
This is the most interesting and informative discussion! I'm just going to sit back and keep learning...please continue. :)

Donna

Punky2
01-20-2008, 09:28 AM
This is a very interesting and informative thread! I am rating it 5 stars!

Thank you everyone for sharing your knowledge.

Terri

MChesleyJohnson
01-20-2008, 09:33 AM
Someone asked to see some more examples of this "extreme" limited palette. Here are two.

"From the Hill: Eastport at Dawn" 5x7, pastel, en plein air
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/3644-from_the_hill_eastport_at_dawn_9291.jpg

"Old House, Young Maples" 5x7, pastel, en plein air
"http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/3644-old_house_young_maples_9293.jpg

DAK723
01-20-2008, 09:49 AM
This is very interesting and informative. I think one of the things that may confuse people is that the term color temperature is used differently by many artists and in many art books. Perhaps Deb's confusion (I'm only guessing) is similar to mine - in that, yes we notice the color change from one side of the jar or the apples (from Donna's still life), but look at it just as a change of color without labeling it "warm or cool". I admit that I have trouble seeing warm or cool, but am hoping with a better understanding and more practice seeing, that I will get better with time. This thread has been very helpful.

Don

Geoff
01-20-2008, 11:49 AM
One of the best instructional/theory threads I've come across in a long time. As someone who struggles with all the many colours in my pastel box, I have often wondered about the minimum of 6 + white; but have never followed it through.
Perhaps I ought to!, and perhaps I'll discover something...
May-hap this is a hint for someone to give us a WIP ! (?); though I'm mainly an Op-ie these days....

Colorix
01-20-2008, 11:54 AM
Gosh, this thread really took off, heading straight out into the n-th dimension!

If I understood Donna correctly, I agree with her.

OK, this post is mostly a reaction to Deborah's and Don's posts.

I've got a simplified version of the colour-temp issue:

Yellow-orange-red is "warm".
Purple-blue-green is "cool".


Any colour that can be put within one half of the circle is either cool or warm, generally speaking.

Then there is relatively speaking. A Cobalt Blue is way cooler than Cad Green light, wich is as warm as you can get at that end of the 'cool' half. I tend to regard Orange as the warmest, and Cobalt Blue as the coolest. If a colour is moving away from Orange, it gets cooler (towards Blue gets cooler). If it moves towards Orange, it gets warmer (away from blue, it gets warmer)

Czésanne "stipulated" that "every plane change is a colour change as well". Some of the American artists took this up and used it. (Names escape me right now.)

I tested the idea rather crudely a few years back. I painted a terracotta flowerpot (from life) using almost only pure colours straight from the tube, creating volume by colour bands on top of an underpainting of magenta for the 'cool' side in shadow (probably Mauve for the inside shadow), and cad orange for the 'warm' lights. (Detail:_)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/117343-flowerpot_isize.jpg

At a distance, it really works, and it does indeed look like a terracotta pot. The red represents the penumbra, and the magenta then 'turns' the form by being the first 'cool' colour (from the top of the outside of the pot). Now, this pot is highly unsofisticated, but shows the general idea.

And the general idea is that another colour, of a different or same value, changes the form by creating another plane in space. It is kept together by the underpainting that defines the large shapes of light and shadow.

Clear as the rainbow, or as mud?

Charlie

Kathryn Wilson
01-20-2008, 12:01 PM
Michael, you asked for it, we delivered :evil:

If you want this thread to go into the Library, please rate the thread.

This is so far and above my head, it is spinning, but I love to see this kind of discussion in the forum - it's what WC is all about.

Thanks Michael for hosting and all you super teachers and mentors for piping in with all of your knowledge. :clap:

nana b
01-20-2008, 12:39 PM
First of all Michael, I really like your painting! And second, I like this thread! I have flagged it so I can study it later, don't have time now. The limited palette really interests me and I'm going to have to try it. All this great information at my fingertips! Wow!

nana

DAK723
01-20-2008, 12:42 PM
Czésanne "stipulated" that "every plane change is a colour change as well". Some of the American artists took this up and used it. (Names escape me right now.)...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/117343-flowerpot_isize.jpg

...And the general idea is that another colour, of a different or same value, changes the form by creating another plane in space. It is kept together by the underpainting that defines the large shapes of light and shadow.

Clear as the rainbow, or as mud?

Charlie
Cezanne's quote and your illustration and expansion of that quote are worth a thousand words! I have 3 or 4 books on Cezanne - I should have read them more carefully! Thanks!

Don

PeggyB
01-20-2008, 01:33 PM
Not sure why this post wasn't first started in "Pastel Talk" since it is more about discussion of technique than actual paintings, but it most certainly eventually belongs in the Pastel Library! :clap:

Michael, Donna, Kim and Charlie you've all contributed a lot of information about color/colour theory in a very small amount of space. Each of you has simplified in different ways a very complex subject. One of the things I've found with beginners and even not so beginners, but rather those who are struggling with "seeing" is that it takes many different ways to describe how to "see" to get the point across to a large body of students. Not everyone sees or "hears" in the same way. Words like "Primary" Color Theory and "Munsell" Color Theory are not descriptive enough, and not even professional painters agree that both are useful to know about, but in reality we each tend towards using a combination of each more often than not, and probably don't even realize it.

Charlie, I use your very simplified example and almost the same words in the first lecture on color.

Donna, I like and use your statement of knowing the temperatures within each hue, and when & why to use them.

Michael and Kim I also teach a lesson on very limited palette using only value change to create form. Thus showing Deborah's suggestion to the students that the right color/hue isn't as important to convey the message as the right value is important. Then they are given the temperature change lesson, and they are on their way to having a more full understanding of the whole spectrum of color theory.

Peggy

DAK723
01-20-2008, 03:49 PM
Where were you guys 30 years ago when I really needed you?? I have a fine arts degree, but learning color theory must have been too "old-fashioned" in our modern art world.

Don

PeggyB
01-20-2008, 04:02 PM
Where were you guys 30 years ago when I really needed you?? I have a fine arts degree, but learning color theory must have been too "old-fashioned" in our modern art world.

Don

Well now there you go Don - a formal art degree. :lol: Thirty years ago I'd already been studying color theory for about 7 years from a woman who knew it forwards, backwards, and inbetween - in of all places an Officers' Wives Club Art Organization called Brush and Palette at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton Ohio. I took classes there for 9 of the 11 years my husband was stationed there (two different tours). It was a marvelous way to learn about painting in many different mediums from currently exhibiting, professionally trained instructors. The group also consisted of members some of which had fine art degrees from some of the best art schools in the world, and they were willing to share their knowledge with anyone interested enough to ask them - for instance me! I loved learning at what the local newspaper called one time a "mini art institute" because we covered everything a fine art school would have, but we didn't have to work for a grade. :) Does anyone else remember Brush and Palette? Does it even still exist?

Peggy

klord
01-20-2008, 04:48 PM
But quite often, beginners, in order to distinguish light from shadow, will push the value contrast too much and make the lit areas far too light. A more satisfactory approach is to not push the value contrast, but to push the color temperature contrast instead.



I think another way to show this example is by the old fashioned squinting method when one is working from life. Even when you are not painting, but just hanging around. (I do this all the time, and thus have the beautiful wrinkles that my mother wears, and she is 20+ years ahead of me.) I am always comparing the values of light and how it lays on the land, interior, object, person, I am sure you get the drift. I am ALWAYS amazed at how little difference there is in value change when the light hits a surface.

Deborah Secor
01-20-2008, 05:22 PM
I didn't mean that you should use color temperature to describe light and shadow at the exclusion of value. But quite often, beginners, in order to distinguish light from shadow, will push the value contrast too much and make the lit areas far too light. A more satisfactory approach is to not push the value contrast, but to push the color temperature contrast instead.

For example, on dark green conifers, I've had students put some incredibly light greens in the sunlit areas; I show them how much more effective it is if you don't make the light areas SO light and instead warm up the light and cool down the shadows. Rather than use such a light green, just use a warmer green or even an orange.

If you really look at sunlit conifers, you'll see that the value contrast isn't as much as it appears at first glance. The contrast you're seeing is enhanced by the temperature differences.

This concept is a powerful tool that lots of beginners don't use.

Okay, here you're speaking my language. I often teach just this, using the orange to warm and deep purple to cool the juniper. But I OFTEN push the jump in values for effect in my own work...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/23609-DSCN7480.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2008/23609-DSCN7535.JPG

I think it's still effective even though it's a huge jump in values, and I hope you'll all agree that it uses the temperature of colors to effect...but it isn't how I teach beginners, of course. I show them how to see the correct value, and understand that sunlight causes the green to look orangish, as well as lightening the value slightly, and the shadow makes the same green look purplish, darkening it slightly.

But I have students who come into my classroom and want me to do a "class on temperature" so they can understand it. We work mostly in the landscape format, of course (not exclusively), and I think what they want is the hour lecture on the ABC-123 of how temperature affects the landscape. Now frankly I rely far, far more on value than warm/cool because I just cannot accept that "red is warm and blue is cool" thing. To me it's all so relative! Charlie, not to dispute you at all, but when you say
Yellow-orange-red is "warm".
Purple-blue-green is "cool".
it just makes me scratch my head! I see how you've applied it in your painting, and it's helpful, but....hmmm...how to explain this? :eek: I look at the landscape and I see COLOR everywhere, exciting beautiful color. As an artist I've learned to understand value as the motivator beneath all color. Sometimes the blue-green on a mountain is WARM. That breaks the rule! I've used pale yellow to cool the color of a sidewalk... Purple can be HOT in temperature if you put greens around it. Purple can be COLD with chili-pepper reds around it!

It seems to me that the standard temperature lecture I got 30 years ago when I took my art degree was to draw a line across the color wheel at purple/red and yellow/green, and everything south of the mason-dixon line is warm and north is cool, yadda yadda yadda. Except that everywhere I look I see color, not temperature. Is it me??? I may just be a rebellious woman, I donno, but that marble just never dropped.

Donna, I'd love to sit down and kick this around with all of you guys in your studio! Transporters would be nice... I really don't relate well to still life, if only because I haven't studied much of it, so the temperature discussion baffles me. I'm trying. I love seeing how the different light sources affect color. Beautiful and so subtle.

Golly--hope someone will be grateful that this old artist is willing to reveal her bafflement and frustration and LEARN, if possible. I'm the one over here asking the hard questions and looking like a rank amateur, I guess. :lol:

I tried an experiment. I held my hand up to a window and looked at the color of my skin in light and shadow. I saw what could be generally referred to as cool light, warm shadow, relatively speaking, but I could have used ALL KINDS of colors to make that. I then held it up to an incandescent bulb. Warm skin in light, cooler in shadow, yes--but likewise all kinds of colors. I don't see all oranges in the light, or all blues in the shadow... I see some blue in the orangey skin, even. There's a really neat peach and lavender combo in the shadow too... I know you all know what I mean, but somehow the idea of temperature still kinda makes me feel like the ground is squishy. I'm far more comfy saying that you can nail the value and use any color--which is technically true--adding that to give volume or distance you have to control color. Does this compute???

Oh, and Kim, steal the limited palette idea and make it your own. It's probably what I did! :D

Thanks--I'm really enjoying this discussion, too. We sorta highjacked your thread, didn't we Michael? If you weren't the teacher you are I'd have never dared... I really like your extreme limited palette paintings, too.

Deborah

Donna A
01-20-2008, 05:51 PM
Hi, Kim! Yes, squinting is always such a good attribute to use---for everything while we are painting---and then making those other "off duty" observations you mention! :-) Since I now have my late mom's wrinkles (well, a LOT Of them now) 24/7, there are ways to not invoke even more by getting into the habit of concentrating on our facial muscles from our lower eyelid down nearly an inch. Tucking those lower muscles UP can play the main part in squinting---though full facial squinting has just got to be good exercise! :-) Right??? :-)

Kim, I so agree with your suggestion to observe constantly. Stopped at a long stop light, waiting in a lobby for an appointment, soaking in the tub! So many lovely opportunities.

HI, Peggy! My biggest lesson in beginning to have a sense of Color Theory was rather inauspicious. I was soaking in the tub---for the first time in years in the daytime---when my twins finally went to Kindergarten. Lazing there (with bubbles!) (I was going the whole 'decadent' way!) I noticed that there were two different shadows coming down from the big re-purposed Chlorox bottle hanging on the towel rack over the tub for the kids' rubber duckies. The shadows were VERY DIFFERENT IN COLOR! WHAT???? How could that be??? So much for the long-hot-soaky! Had to figure this out. Little high window on the north wall of the bathroom---and an incandescent light fixture on the ceiling as light sources. When streaking thru the house to get a newspaper to cover up the little north window. The orangey shadow disappeared. Hmmm. Then uncovered it and turned off the light switch. The bluey-violet shadow disappeared. HMMMM!

NOTHING had ever come up in college painting classes, nothing I'd ever ever heard about or read lent enlightenment to this fascinating 'phenomena.' I had to finally go to photographic resources to learn more about the color issues of light sources---and their strong influence on the visual color of objects! We just so often don't notice! Which is one of the things that some photographers commented on. The film noticed BIG TIME for them. They knew to look! We just so often ignore the effects, never realizing they exist.

I LOVE seeing and using the wonderful color impacts that the lighting source(s) gives to the local color of objects, along with reflected light effects! Sooo exciting to imbue paintings with ever more gorgeous color change possibilities---to whatever degree an artist wishes to use them.

Hi, Michael! Yes---What did you create here? :-) Well---is seeming you launched something quite interesting, valuable and wonderful! Yea! Take good care! Donna ;-}

Colorix
01-20-2008, 07:08 PM
Hi again,

Deborah, it truly is a lot of yadda, it is simply a (not so exact) terminology, and a memory aid. Not trying to change your mind, but to explain:

For me, the temperature in a landscape is mostly relevant for putting down the basics (an underpainting, you could say). Warmer and or more saturated in the front, cooler and more whitened in the distance. (Aerial perspective, right?) I use it to indicate light (warms) and shadow (cools), depending on the colour of the light of course. But that is only at the start of a landscape painting, after that, everything moves into the realm of relativity.

Take your pic in your latest post: I'd say that all the shadows in it are predominantly cool, and the lights warm. The greatest (almost only) difference in how I would have handled it is in the bush/tree, where I'd have started the bush in light with a cooler pink (but still on the warm side), before layering a coolish (leaning towards blue) green over it. See, I can apply my terminology to your painting. Still it is merely words. Another terminology can be used as well, of course.

Oh, warms come forward, cools recede. Knowing that, you can shape forms.

Blue-green on a distant mountain *is* warm, purple is a very warm version of reddened blue. Lemon yellow is excellent to cool a sidewalk in light, and to brighten a sidewalk in shadow. Pink cools reds down (and yellows, and oranges), but warms blues, and grays/mutes greens. And purple is very cool amongst bright reds and oranges. :-D That is what we see and perceive.

Terminology, aka yadda-yadda. :-) One has to attribute meaning to it. I guess it is the usual "one size doesn't fit all", and we're all comfortable with how to express a concept in they way we've learned it, and to change terminology is confusing. I learned this way, and I disagree with my teachers on one point, I regard orange (or even a yellowy red) to be the 'warmest' colour, not yellow as they taught (yellow is the *brightest*, to me).

Of course your hand in different light have both cools and warms in the lights and shadows, but one colour (mix or blend) is dominant. Some of the warms and cools shape the forms, others are reflections, but as they are cast on forms, they also shape them. Less pigmented skincolour can be mixed by using a red, a yellow, and a bit of blue or green, and tons of white. In pastels, where we layer, this creates a glow, a sparkle, while well-mixed oil paint makes a flatter more even 'blend'.

Ah, my two cents.

Good night, I'm calling it a day.

Deborah Secor
01-20-2008, 07:38 PM
:thumbsup: Charlie--I hear ya. :D

Deborah

Donna A
01-20-2008, 07:53 PM
Hi, Deborah! Guess we cross-posted! Lovely painting! Yea!!!

it just makes me scratch my head! I see how you've applied it in your painting, and it's helpful, but....hmmm...how to explain this? I look at the landscape and I see COLOR everywhere, exciting beautiful color. As an artist I've learned to understand value as the motivator beneath all color. Sometimes the blue-green on a mountain is WARM. That breaks the rule! I've used pale yellow to cool the color of a sidewalk... Purple can be HOT in temperature if you put greens around it. Purple can be COLD with chili-pepper reds around it!

For me, so much about it is about the relationships between.... And you rather allude to that with your mention of how purple can be HOT with greens around it and COLD with the chili-pepper reds. I always see it as we are who we are (as the Purple is Purple) but we are off-spring, often parents, siblings, best friends, aunt or uncles, next door neighbors---but always in relationship to someone specific rather than as a total identity! To me that is sooo KEY!

Folks around here know the Chant at Aldridge Studios----RELATE RELATE RELATE! :-) Have a print in CAPS pinned to the wall along with Hue-Temp(within-the-Hue)-Value-Intensity!!! Well---then there is the day I just finally scribbled PLANES on the wall with a fat piece of charcoal! Hey!

It seems to me that the standard temperature lecture I got 30 years ago when I took my art degree was to draw a line across the color wheel at purple/red and yellow/green, and everything south of the mason-dixon line is warm and north is cool, yadda yadda yadda. Except that everywhere I look I see color, not temperature. Is it me??? I may just be a rebellious woman, I donno, but that marble just never dropped.

I know the (almost) Value-Only speak is popular---and certainly with the Old Masters where they were painting always indoors---with often usually smaller windows---and without so many of the lovely brilliant pigments we have now---and without a world full of sooo many brilliant dyes for clothing and furniture and walls and plentiful artificial lighting to brighten it wonderfully---they were rather grounded in Values as their main 'currency.' Goodness knows---If they HAD painted with all the gorgeous colors we have now, the places the works hung were still fully dependent on candles, fireplaces and the available windows to give light. We are spoiled!!! So---they HAD to depend on Values to deliver the greatest impact of their paintings!!! Gorgeous reds and ochres played wonderful parts in so many paintings (Carrivagio comes to mind immediately) but Value was still IT!

And then the Impressionists built remarkable works upon the adventures of their immediate predecessors! Being out there! I'll mention Monet again as I did early in this thread. He--well---let's call it JUGGLED! He kept all the balls in the air at once! Hue-Temp (color wheel as well as within-the-hue)-Value-Intensity!!!

Value ain't THE color. It's one aspect OF the color that some spot on the subject is. I think Value is a very important aspect!!!! Just isn't the Primadonna! We can ruin a painting getting the Intensity off! The Temp off! Or the Value off! I've seen them all. I've done them all! :-) It's a family! All those qualities---those attributes---those aspects!

So---it's a broader way of looking at the world, at color. It all exists. It's all real. It always is happening in what we are looking at---we just may not be taking it in. The adventures out there are soooo wonderful!

Donna, I'd love to sit down and kick this around with all of you guys in your studio! Transporters would be nice... I really don't relate well to still life, if only because I haven't studied much of it, so the temperature discussion baffles me. I'm trying. I love seeing how the different light sources affect color. Beautiful and so subtle.

Ohhh--could we have fun or what! :-) Now---I was with you on still lifes! For sooo long! And then one day several decades ago I happened to look at something and began seeing it as shapes of colors rather than as 'stuff.' Relationships! And then years later---I started understanding still lifes as "Interior Landscapes" and have even had shows on that very theme---"Interior and Exterior Landscapes." And I started seeing figures as "Mother Earth" so to speak---landscape-ish, that is----or the landscape as the figure. I began painting figures most of the time for my subjects--and then plein air as well---40" squares rather than little bits of canvas, etc. when I worked outdoors. And only came to still lifes later. But---I LOVE anything that gives fascinating shapes of colors. (with fascinating relationships---in gorgeous lighting!!!) :-)

Value is so important! Yes! And we can make wonderful pieces based entirely on Value! Look at the Sumi painting! Zero Hue! (therefore zero Temperature and Intensity.) And we can add it bits and pieces of Hue, etc. to a painting---which is the arena which you are noting---but---I want it ALL! All the attributes!

And Michael is certainly talking about using more attributes in a painting to make things happen visually.

Golly--hope someone will be grateful that this old artist is willing to reveal her bafflement and frustration and LEARN, if possible. I'm the one over here asking the hard questions and looking like a rank amateur, I guess.

Oh, Deborah!!! LOL! You are being gorgeous! We are all constantly seeing more and more in this amazing universe! It is sooo full of remarkable qualities and none of us will ever see and understand it all! So great that you are asking hard questions---and you are being a roll model for others who also need to be asking questions like these!

I tried an experiment. I held my hand up to a window and looked at the color of my skin in light and shadow. I saw what could be generally referred to as cool light, warm shadow, relatively speaking, but I could have used ALL KINDS of colors to make that. I then held it up to an incandescent bulb. Warm skin in light, cooler in shadow, yes--but likewise all kinds of colors. I don't see all oranges in the light, or all blues in the shadow... I see some blue in the orangey skin, even. There's a really neat peach and lavender combo in the shadow too... I know you all know what I mean, but somehow the idea of temperature still kinda makes me feel like the ground is squishy. I'm far more comfy saying that you can nail the value and use any color--which is technically true--adding that to give volume or distance you have to control color. Does this compute???

Squishy??? Well, sure! Weird if it didn't feel that way! But you are "building a couple of big rooms on to your heart's painting studio" (so to speak!) And that takes time! Of course you don't see it immediately. And sometimes when we have rested all our beliefs on one issue---and some things may be coming to join in---it can be very unsettling. Just play with it. It all exists. It's there. We just decide what is part of how we express our joy, celebrate the beauty we see in the world. Yum!!! We all find our unique ways of sharing this wonder!

Years and years ago I would have discussions with my (late) mentor, who had become a dear friend as well, and he often talked about what was 'easiest' to teach (for him) as opposed to my viewpoint of teaching what served the studying artist best and most fully. He was classically trained in Budepest and while Value was very important, he also understood these others issues---though he did not pound them into our heads---only alluded to them. I'm soooo dense. I learn sooo hard! :-) Thank goodness for the bathtub! :-) And my curiosity!!! Excelsior! :-)

Wishing you so many blessings and much enjoyment---and ever-expanding growth for every one of us!!! Donna ;-}

IdahoHat
01-20-2008, 10:21 PM
Michael,
What were you using to paint on for these studies? I find that on paper, mixing colors is fairly easy, although there is a limit to how much pastel can be used. However, on suede mat or velour, color mixing is limited. Sanded paper is a little easier as well.

And thanks for the discussion. I'm not sure I completely get it, but I will study the subject a few times more. Keep stretching our foggy minds, please.:lol:

Deborah Secor
01-20-2008, 11:33 PM
So, Donna, you say:
Hue.
Temperature.
Value.
Intensity. In other words look at the local color, warm/cool, dark or lightness, chroma. (We'll leave aside planes for the moment, if you don't mind.) As you paint do you consider each of these issues separately, independently? Do you ask yourself, "Is it the right hue? Is this the correct temperature? Is the value off? What about intensity?" Or do you have some benchmark against which you measure, only questioning these issues when a problem looms? Maybe a better way to ask this is to say, do you problem solve using these four, or do you attack every painting with all of them in mind at all times?

In some ways I suspect I have always relied on temperature. I just haven't formulated (not a good word) any way to use it as a consistent tool, it seems. Maybe it's more that I haven't formally found the way to rely on temperature as a tool--it's always seemed to change shape in my hand, so to speak. Now, I certainly do use the orange/purple 'formula' to shape a tree, as we discussed earlier, but I don't find that warm/cool is consistently useful. I don't shape a mountain using orange and purple. Maybe I should.

*Are you saying that I can and should shape mountains with orange and purple, too? Hmmm, maybe I do...
We can ruin a painting getting the Intensity off! The Temp off! Or the Value off!
I can't argue with that statement. I sometimes rely on using yellower colors to make the foreground plane advance. I use on bluish colors to make mountains appear to recede. I'll tell my students to blue something down, yes, but that doesn't mean it has to be blue. They could use blue-green or lavender (both of which contain blue, admittedly.) I guess this is using temperature, however.

I often also analyze value and suggest they look for colors in that range.

I'll mention if something seems overly saturated that they should gray it down, not changing the value but the intensity.

I'm the kind of gal who is comfy with having a set of rules I can use as benchmarks. Not a rule that's hard-and-fast, never changing, but one that I know is solid and will allow me to problem solve against it. It's like a Truth. I know I have Value Truths, and Intensity Truths, Edge Truths, Contrast Truths. Others, too... Maybe I have more Temperature Truths than I think.

Hmmmm...very interesting. Let me spend some time in the studio looking at work and thinking this through.

Deborah

Geoff
01-21-2008, 05:26 AM
May I as a colour-challenged artist in hope, thank all the contributors to this thread for their comments.

That terracotta pot example was a powerful illustration of how a painted object can look 'messy' close up - but comes into 'proper' view from a distance. That was "easy" to see.

But my problem ( headache coming on ) is how to take all this loverly colour theory and put it into the landscape successfully. I understand the aspects of cool back ; warm forward ; aerial perspective, etc. But in practise I just seem to plonk colours on in hope of something coming good !!!!!
Would anyone possibly guide this 'colour-twit' through the process in practical terms ?

I plan to set aside 2008 to try and get to grips with the basics.

But first of all I need to take all this thread and print it out for a more in-depth study !!!!!!

( 5 points )

Colorix
01-21-2008, 07:15 AM
Geoff, I second that motion. I want to learn too. I could do the first few steps, but finishing a painting is still an accident happening to me.

MChesleyJohnson
01-21-2008, 08:42 AM
Harriet - I used Kitty Wallis' Belgian Mist Sanded Pastel Paper. I confess, that with those 14 sticks, I did a certain amount of finger-blending to get the right effects.

Geoff and Charlie - One approach I take to painting when I'm trying to learn is to tackle JUST ONE THING when I go out to paint. (I paint primarily outdoors.) For example, if I want to work on "What is the color temperature of sunlight, and how does that affect shadow temperature?" then that's the one thing I think of. Although I still consider composition and design, value, drawing, etc., I try to keep color temperature foremost. I find this helps enormously!

Deborah - Let's get together during IAPS next year and have a color temperature painting day! Urania's asked me to demonstrate, and I'm looking forward to it. The demonstration(s) won't be on color temperature, but I would like to maybe do an informal and impromptu thing together with whoever is around (you, for certain) to paint.

Deborah Secor
01-21-2008, 09:09 AM
I'd love that Michael. I assume by then my temperature blues will have passed... <yuk yuk>

Deborah

MChesleyJohnson
01-21-2008, 09:21 AM
Great! Hopefully by then, I'll have stripped down my "extreme limited" palette even more. My goal is to get it down to just one stick. ;)

CindyW
01-21-2008, 10:13 AM
I'm the one over here asking the hard questions and looking like a rank amateur, I guess. :lol:

Deborah
Well, THAT'S a yuk yuk statement, Deborah! What you've been contributing to this discussion is invaluable to so very many of us who are following along. I especially love this example:
I look at the landscape and I see COLOR everywhere, exciting beautiful color. As an artist I've learned to understand value as the motivator beneath all color. Sometimes the blue-green on a mountain is WARM. That breaks the rule! I've used pale yellow to cool the color of a sidewalk... Purple can be HOT in temperature if you put greens around it. Purple can be COLD with chili-pepper reds around it!

Thanks for this thread, Michael, this excellent top of the heap and hugely informative discussion, to you all! and thanks, Michael, for the limited palette paintings...they are wonderful!!!!

Yep, printing this one out here, too.

Cindy

klord
01-21-2008, 10:53 AM
Hey Guys and Gals,

I know I am a newcomer, and have probably pushed into this discussion like a bull in a china shop, without regard to good form, but I want to play too!!:D :D :D

Would you welcome a newbie (me!!)when you go painting at IAPS??

Kim

MChesleyJohnson
01-21-2008, 10:57 AM
Everyone can play! Just bring your pastels, surface of choice, good attitude and a party favor.

Jo Castillo
01-21-2008, 11:12 AM
Everyone can play! Just bring your pastels, surface of choice, good attitude and a party favor.

This sounds great, you will end up needing space for a couple of hundred folks! Hope to see you there...

MChesleyJohnson
01-21-2008, 11:54 AM
I forgot to mention you'll need to know the secret handshake.

MChesleyJohnson
01-21-2008, 01:13 PM
By the way, I just wanted to give an example of what I mean by pushing the temperature contrast.

I offer you two examples from the painting, "Walk Through Fire."

Here is the conifer with light and shadow. The light isn't as light as you might expect (see the greyscale version below it to see the values better). But I've warmed the light considerably to intensify the feeling of light. (Ignore that patch of flame-red blackberry cane below it!)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Jan-2008/3644-pic2.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Jan-2008/3644-pic2_grey.jpg

Second, here is the patch of blackerry cane itself. Except for that one, intense spot of light, the rest of the lit areas are quite dark. Again, I've pushed the temperature to increase the illusion of light and shadow.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Jan-2008/3644-pic1.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Jan-2008/3644-pic1_grey.jpg

Geoff
01-21-2008, 01:40 PM
Great! Hopefully by then, I'll have stripped down my "extreme limited" palette even more. My goal is to get it down to just one stick. ;)

That, of course, rather paradoxically, makes painting "easy" - only values to worry about !!!!!!

Geoff
01-21-2008, 01:42 PM
I forgot to mention you'll need to know the secret handshake.

Is that the one with the Ł1 million dollar note in it ? :wink2:

Geoff
01-21-2008, 01:44 PM
Yep, printing this one out here, too.

Cindy

At the rate this thread is expanding it'll be a novel !!!!

But full of wonderful advice.

Tom Christopher
01-21-2008, 01:54 PM
Hello this is an excellent thread-- I also will keep this saved and refer to it often--I was wondering Michael, where and when will the IAPS convention be held? ..I would like to attend --thanks tom

MChesleyJohnson
01-21-2008, 02:02 PM
IAPS will be May 28-30, 2009 in Albuquerque. Hope you can come!

PeggyB
01-21-2008, 02:45 PM
IAPS will be May 28-30, 2009 in Albuquerque. Hope you can come!

You absolutely right about the "official" convention dates, Michael. However, there are usually 1 or 2 days prior to the actual convention in which workshops are offered, and you may attend for an additional fee. There are many pastelists who save up to attend one of these sessions prior to the convention demos and lectures. So much to do and so little time in which to do it! That's the IAPS convention. :)

Past instructors included:
Gil Dellinger, J. Renee Ekleberry, & Frank Federico - 2001 (1 day workshops)

Albert Handell & Anita Louise West, Sean Dye - 2003 (2 day workshops)
Alan Flattmann, Trudi Smith - 2003 (1 day workshops)

Margaret Evans, Duane Wakeham - 2005 (2 day workshops)
Brenda Mattson, Richard McDaniel - 2005 (1 day workshops)

Desmond O'Hagen, Maggie Price - 2007 (2 day workshops)
Richard McKinley, Doug Dawson - 2007 (1 day workshops)

We won't know the workshop instructors for 2009 until the convention registration forms are listed on the IAPS website sometime near the end of this year - hopefully late fall. HOwever, I'm sure there are some WC members who can attest to the wonderful information they received at the last convention in those workshops. Including moi in the O'Hagen workshop and David Patterson in the McKinley workshop just to mention a couple happy artists. :)

Peggy

chewie
01-21-2008, 04:50 PM
i am reading with keen interest, and will have to read this several times again to start to 'get it'. i do know on my handell dvd, he does alot of changing hue, of same intensity/value to add to large mass areas. like a tree area, he used various purples and greens but all the very same value. if the area would be photog'ed in bl/white, it would have no difference. but in color, it sings and reads correctly due to this color (hue) change. i think i need to go lay down now, my head hurts!!

Colorix
01-21-2008, 05:23 PM
Michael, in all the furor in this thread, your starting it sort of, well, got lost a bit. The snowscene is clearly showing your mastery. It positively emits light. Looked at your site, and everytime I felt the glow from a painting, it was a pastel! Beautiful paintings, oils and pastels, but the pastels are visually my favourites.

MChesleyJohnson
01-22-2008, 03:15 AM
Thanks, everyone.

Right, Peggy! Those pre-convention workshops are great - not to be missed.