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DanaT
06-25-2002, 09:20 PM
Oh, it's summertime and the living is easy and everything's the same shade of green! At least that's what it looked like to me until today.

I got tired of painting the same old greens in my watercolor class in Central Park so yesterday I took a cue from a fellow student who used the siennas and the umbers with a little of the cobalt blue for a warmer, more muted pallette. I didn't actually see the colors I was mixing in nature but I painted them in anyway.

Well, what do you know? When I came to class today, I actually started seeing some of the colors I had painted in yesterday!

This has happened to me once before when I took up pastel portraits. I first couldn't see any of the stronger colors in skintones; then when my teacher told me to put them in anyway, I did and I began to see them.

So, do you first have to see the color before you put it in or are you like me and put the color in first with hopes of being able to see it later?

dspinks
06-26-2002, 02:18 AM
I used to have to see it first and try to replicate it, but then I would get so frustrated because I couldn't "make" the color I was seeing. Now I am beginning to be more adventurous and will try unusual combinations just to see what will come out of it.
Debra

Scott Methvin
06-26-2002, 12:49 PM
Originally posted by DanaT
I didn't actually see the colors I was mixing in nature but I painted them in anyway.

Well, what do you know? When I came to class today, I actually started seeing some of the colors I had painted in yesterday!

This has happened to me once before when I took up pastel portraits. I first couldn't see any of the stronger colors in skintones; then when my teacher told me to put them in anyway, I did and I began to see them.

So, do you first have to see the color before you put it in or are you like me and put the color in first with hopes of being able to see it later?

Dana,

This is an interesting observation you have made. Your color theory is helping you "see" better. I had the same thing happen yesterday (it happens all the time), when I was painting a blue shirt. I lightly scumbled on some orangish-red over the totally blue shirt, including shadow areas. I very light dusting brought the the shirt to life. It was amazing how little color it took to do this. It's there you just can't see it.

Like green in flesh, red in leaves and orange in the sky.

The compliments have a way of making colors wake up.

It's one thing to "paint only what you see", the question is how much CAN you see. You have to see with experience.

It's the neutrals, the edge colors and the shadows that are hard to break down and translate.

cobalt fingers
06-26-2002, 12:54 PM
It really must go hand in hand, you think , "oh that's the color" and you try to put it down and it's not what you saw. One may argue that you see first then paint, but at some point these things must merge. painting often helps both. Tim

DanaT
06-26-2002, 03:09 PM
Originally posted by Scott Methvin


It's one thing to "paint only what you see", the question is how much CAN you see. You have to see with experience.



Yes, Scott, your sentence reminds me of the old adage, "If you don't use it; you lose it" Without something like painting for us to continually check and prod our observation, how much can we actually see? It reminds me of the Inuits 9 words for snow, in the Arctic its a life and death distinction, here, a bit less so. So we can basically see powder and ice.

What I find fascinating though is that with some people, the synapses in their neurons work faster when they put an arbitrary pigment to paper THEN check it with observation. The act of putting paint to paper (I do watercolor) before observation somehow makes the learning more meaningful and it "sticks".

It probably has something to do with kinetic learning theory.

Tim, Eventually I'd like observation and painting to merge, right now I'm just exploring the path to getting there. Although I haven't had much success with trying to duplicate a color.

Einion
06-26-2002, 03:52 PM
Dana I experienced almost exactly the same sort of thing when I first learned colour-bias theory, all of a sudden I was able to "see" colours I had previously only looked at. Intellectualising colour is the best starting point to be able to mix accurate matches for most, but is alien to many artists but, with a little practice, you can learn to see in paint mixtures without any effort (perhaps the best justification for a smaller palette).

Debra's comment is fairly typical of colour-mixing frustration, I certainly remember similar feelings myself. In many cases I just couldn't mix a given colour because my palette just didn't have the right range, even if I had had the know-how at the time, which I didn't.

One thing I do think it's important to bear in mind is how you personally view colour. A photorealist won't paint the same subject in remotely the same colours as other realist artists who work in painterly ways. The photorealist will be trying to recreate the colour exactly as recorded while the others will be interpreting the colour through the filter of their artistic vision, which can result in three very different depictions each with its own charm.

Einion

bruin70
06-27-2002, 07:06 AM
sounds like on the previous day in the park you were comparing the muted colors with what you saw in nature and didn't see the relationship. then the following day, in the studio and away from mother nature, you saw your muted colors as they related to each other. therefore their coloring made perfect, relative sense......{M}

DanaT
06-27-2002, 07:51 AM
Einion, I have learned a lot in art by intellectualising it first, but this time there was no rational thought process. I saw a color palette I liked and just tried it out. I'm not really into photorealism, because paradoxically it doesn't look too realistic to me. To me it looks Walt Disneyish.

Bruin, the second day of class was in the Park also. I think the umbers and siennas were in nature but too subtle for me to pick out at first. When I went back to the park the second day, my eyes were sensitized to their presence some more.

cobalt fingers
06-27-2002, 09:31 AM
I can recall trying to paint the fuzzy blue of distant mountains. I could kinda see the color but there was no way I was going to paint it. I then began at that time to work a lot from life inside because it was easier for several reasons-still lifes since they don't move. After doing this for some years I could then go outside with all the distance and all the atmosphere and all the reflected light etc etc and then I was able to get much closer.

DanaT
06-27-2002, 10:32 AM
Hi Tim,

I'm curious...why do you think you couldn't paint the mountains at first? How did painting still lifes help you get the outdoor colors better? True, the objects don't move, but neither do mountains. ;)

bruin70
06-27-2002, 05:49 PM
Originally posted by DanaT


Bruin, the second day of class was in the Park also. I think the umbers and siennas were in nature but too subtle for me to pick out at first. When I went back to the park the second day, my eyes were sensitized to their presence some more.

exactly so. you simply got comfortable with colors that were odd to you the day before{M}

cobalt fingers
06-27-2002, 08:39 PM
many factors other than just movement of the subject. I or any of us can sit and look back and forth at a still life and match the color eventually. The light is the same on both and stable. We do not have to read and paint blue air for 15 miles. Time is not fleeting and the colors (of the subject) are not changing every 30 minutes. To read something 6 feet away in controlled situation is simply easier... and I would suggest a quicker way to get to nailing landscapes. My thoughts are not very original on this (as usual)

Painted Melody
06-28-2002, 02:20 AM
hey, great topic.

I do not know if this is related, but I have read some people are more inclined to seeing a certain color. For instance, I see purple/violet in almost everything -- like Purple Vision™ -- as if there's a stipulation of tiny violets everywhere. And I'm not that obsessed with this color either...

Is this true for others?

Jeremy

DanaT
06-28-2002, 05:26 AM
Originally posted by Painted Melody
hey, great topic.

I do not know if this is related, but I have read some people are more inclined to seeing a certain color. For instance, I see purple/violet in almost everything -- like Purple Vision™ -- as if there's a stipulation of tiny violets everywhere. And I'm not that obsessed with this color either...

Is this true for others?

Jeremy

Oh yes, Jeremy. I definitely agree with this statement but think it corresponds more though to a range of hues. I, for example, can see subtleties in the cooler colors better-anything between blue and red on the color wheel. The colors I have the hardest time with are the ones between red and yellow on the wheel especially if they are greyed down. But I know others who are just the opposite.

Now before I ever got into art, I went to a one hour class where my physical coloring was analyzed and I came out a Summer-Winter (I can best wear medium value colors in the cool range)

I don't know if the two are related; I only mention it because I heard once that our aesthetic taste in our homes is heavily influenced by our own physical characteristics. For example, a 5'2" small but curvy woman may lean toward more delicate looking furniture with curves but a 6'2" male football player may prefer boxier, heavier looking furniture. (Generalization-I know :D but you get my point) Can our perception of the world around us be influenced by our own physical characteristics, that's another factor perhaps to consider.

Tim, thx for the clarification. When I said movement I really meant change. Paradoxically, right now I am able to nail down portraits of live models and landscapes easier than still lifes, I think, because the small changes over the course of a session give me more information about the subject matter that I can put to use in my paintings. Odd, I know, I think I'm the only one with this problem. :)

Painted Melody
06-29-2002, 04:20 PM
Fascinating response.

Can you tell me more about this physical coloring study?

Jeremy

violet feme
06-29-2002, 08:48 PM
DanaT,
That is interesting about the physical characteristics and prefrences! As far as learning to see color you could try painting your trees/landscape using no greens. This might help you to see all of the other colors that are there. Then after you "see" them, go back to using greens as well. :)

DanaT
06-29-2002, 09:11 PM
Hi Jeremy,

The color theory has been around awhile, I think it started in England and was primarily developed to help non-artists/non-fashion plates decide what colors looked best on them (clothing, etc).

It separates human coloring into 4 seasons along three axes: warm/cool, light/dark, muted/clear. Winters can best wear clear cool dark colors; Summers, muted cool light colors; Autumns, muted warm dark colors, and Springs, clear warm light colors.

It doesn't get much respect in art circles because in reality a lot of people don't fit conveniently into one season and the first woman who did it in America put all non-whites in the Winter season (of course she was white and the theory has changed since).

But one thing it did do was to bring the concept of warm and cool colors to the masses and if you don't take the seasonal stuff too literally, you can see where you have a basic preference and finer eye for one end of one of the axes that correlates to your physical coloring.

With me, falling between Summer and Winter, the two cool seasons, I could tell a greater sensitivity at the cool end of the color temperature range. My coloring is so opposite of warm its not even funny and warm colors are harder for me to use well in painting.

In short, the theory itself should be taken with a very hefty grain of salt but looking into it can give you some insights in similarities between your physical coloring and the colors you have a greater sensitivity to.

Violet Feme, great suggestion. Thx.

Painted Melody
07-04-2002, 01:55 PM
Dana, that's very interesting. thanks for sharing this. i think i'm an autumn (at least) leading into winter, but that has more to do with my wardrobe year around. but i certainly see it infecting my art work and I tend to enjoy art pieces that are muted, like
Andrew Wyeth (http://www.awyeth.com/)

Jeremy

LarrySeiler
07-04-2002, 02:44 PM
It is certainly a growth process.

It comes in baby steps, and then sometimes leaps. One sensitivity lends to seeing something else.

Good painting calls for color harmony...which then calls for a rhythm. Knowing how a viewer sees things psychologically, and then how its possible to manipulate the eye invites the artist to sometimes experiment and go beyond what s/he actually sees. There may not be any connection between the sky and the ground of a landscape, and a sense of unity is missing. So the artist puts flecks of color from the ground in various places amongst clouds, and various colors of the sky into the ground... weaving such for the sake of the painting to work "as a painting."

On the other hand, I am experiencing seeing things I did not use to see because in time I have learned things on an intellectual level and from observing and simply working. I am much more sensitive to seeing cooler colors in shadows.

Last year, I observed an interesting thing among my high school painting students. When I first got them started doing a landscape painting project, I was going around the room pointing trying to get them to paint less and observe more. The students were working with photos...which is even harder.

I would mention when I saw it, for the students to look more carefully because there were some cooler colors in the shadows they were missing. At first, some of the students were bawking and responding with..."wwwhat??? wwwhere?" ...and I would point it out.

What was funny was, little by little their eyes began to see it. In one instance, I was on the other side of the room and another student commented on colors she could see in the reference's shadows of her neighbor's work that her neighbor failed as yet to see. Her neighbor somewhat defensively asked her where? "Where are those blues and violets?"

In response, a few other students turned around to have a look, and one student after another began to respond, "hhmmm... I see it!" and, "yep, I see it too!" to the tune of, "you guys are crazy!"

hahaha...

when you begin to sense and see it, you begin to anticipate seeing it, which I'm sure helps all the more for that color to actually materialize.

One color phenomena that I am becoming more aware of is the tendency for a strong color to pit its complementary upon a lesser dominant adjacent area of color. I'd have to go back and look at my notes to see what this affect is actually called and who discovered it...but that artist went on to do all these colored squares as first to experiment then document his being correct in this regard. If you take a large red square, and paint a smaller grey square in its center...that grayish square will have a hint and presence of green upon it despite the fact that NO green was painted at all.

This enters a whole new arena, because now in addition to what colors we mix that can be seen...it suggests other colors can be seen and even sensed that we do not paint because of this adjacent color phenomena.

I have been working to suggest more of my greens I see in nature in my own landscape paintings because green IS a very difficult color to work with and command. Delicately and selectively placing marks of red can help to induce greater senses of greens. Greens that aren't even painted. They appear in the viewer's mind.

This then leads to another area, and it calls us to consider how "local" color is perceived in the viewer's mind. Knowing that the average "Joe" exists in a world of local color only...you can take advantage that he thinks grass is green, sky is blue, snow is white. I have found it possible to get away with blues, violets, pinks and even oranges to suggest the green of pine trees, knowing that the assumption pines are green will work in my favor. As such, those other colors suggest different moods and emotions attached to witnessing such objects as trees, etc;

Finally...I have discovered that often we get a different sense of a color by how we go about looking at objects, in how we go about trying to discover color.

If I am painting a landscape before me, I try to remember when I first saw the scene and was determined I had to paint it that I did not at the immediate take in and note individual separate parts. I saw it as a whole.

However, typically painters get into their painting and then judge their progress as separate parts, striving thereafter to make everything work together.

To demonstrate this....if I'm painting a scene of closer trees, a meadow, distant tree masses, and sky, by looking directly at the background trees...I might see one green color. However, after following some advice by Kevin MacPherson...I began to look at that background tree mass peripherally. I discovered that you will often sense the existence of another hint of color present that when directly looking at the mass you will not see.

Since our objective is to cause our masses to have a relationship with the whole or each other...it then makes sense to judge its colors and values peripherally as well as looking directly...because that is how we actually look at nature or anything, right?

So...when I'm not quite sure what hint of color is present in a shadow adjacent to a tree mass in direct light, I'll look at the lit up mass with intention to peripherally sense the color in that shadow. Often as a result I'll see the cooler colors that others fail to see.

I find for example often in a lower sun position of the sky that at first I sense a hint of some greens in the basic sky color. I sense that it seems when my eyes are more horizontal and mindful of the land's masses. I'll look up at the sky sensing the greens, and as a result see only variations of blues. Hhhmm... what I used to do was ignore that. The presence of that green usually did not register really in my mind.

Learning more and more though, I have trained myself to be sensitive. Now...sensing that green...I'll study it a bit, and realize that peripherally my eyes picked up on that.

Now...I have a decision to make. Will putting a hint of green in the sky then support better the emphasis I want to make on my landmass? Chances are that it will, since at that time the color green appears at the moment my interest was really ON the land mass.

In turn then...I look at the sky and judge how dark the values of the shadows appear to be.

I find when looking directly at the shadows, they appear not quite so dark. When looking directly at the area of interest that the sun is striking the shadows will appear darker.

So...your question is, do you paint what you know or what you see? My suggestion is, there are also different ways of seeing (such as peripherally), which as a practice is unknown to many, and decisions have to be made that will ultimately support why you felt the need to make the painting as a statement in the first place. Mindful of the tendency to getting distracted, and of having your eyes place new emphasis along the way. In this case, knowing what NOT to paint is as important if not more.

It has once been said that the student of painting or novice, paints everything seen. The mature artist learns to discriminate.


Larry

MrSpringGreen
07-08-2002, 03:30 PM
His name was Johannes Itten.

LarrySeiler
07-09-2002, 04:29 PM
yep...that's him! Should have remembered, because last time his name came up in a discussion...I bookmarked a couple books of his in my Amazon.com wish to buy list.

Larry

rapolina
04-16-2003, 06:12 AM
I find out this thread looking around in the forum: i find it very interesting.

I always paint the colors I want, never copy as it is, i like crazy mixing and hate copying "as it is" anything. I have to tell that I don't paint partraits!!!:D :D :D (what about a blue skinned boy?)
Moreover, I nelrly always poaint by imagination, so it le me free from this. But I painted a blue fire, for example, or magenta trees.
I like this way.;)

Any other new opinion by new in the forum?

ciao, rapolina.:cat:

MikeN
04-16-2003, 10:01 AM
Originally posted by LarrySeiler

One color phenomena that I am becoming more aware of is the tendency for a strong color to pit its complementary upon a lesser dominant adjacent area of color. I'd have to go back and look at my notes to see what this affect is actually called and who discovered it...but that artist went on to do all these colored squares as first to experiment then document his being correct in this regard. If you take a large red square, and paint a smaller grey square in its center...that grayish square will have a hint and presence of green upon it despite the fact that NO green was painted at all.


Nice post Larry, the phenomena you are referring to is called Simultaneous Contrast. It involves relativity and is not only confined to HUE but also VALUE and INTENSITY.

It definitely sounds like Itten but could also be Albers, Im certain he also painted many examples of this same phenomena. I have seen a box set of printed Albers color examples, demonstrating information such as Simultaneous Contrast, and they are truly AMAZING. He most famous works are "Homage to the Square"

Personally I work on grey paper to counter act this effect. I am very uncomfortable working on bright colored papers.

Mike

MikeN
04-16-2003, 10:05 AM
Since we work in pigment we cannot copy light completely. We can only decide which key relationships will get the illusion across or are important to us at the time.

The real subject will always contain a luminosity that we cannot completly capture.

Mike

cobalt fingers
04-16-2003, 11:44 AM
I think it would go well if artists tried very hard to match color until thy could. Most colors in nature can be n matched. On an overcast day all color can. Direct sunlite is a trick and can be argued-but in still lifes the pigment will get you there.

To raise your hands and say, ah this darn pigment is a crutch that does not serve ones' growth.

MikeN
04-16-2003, 02:09 PM
Hi Tim,

Yes I agree with you. Most colors can be matched.

Let me scrape some of the mud from my keyboard. I was trying to bring attention to difference in luminosity between a real object and a painting of that same object. It's like comparing a real painting on a wall to a JPEG of the same painting on the web. :)

cheers,

Mike

WFMartin
04-20-2003, 09:31 PM
Larry,

Peripheral vision changing one's observance of color? Your example of the "green" phenomenon in a sky in which we KNOW no green exists causes me to think. Once again, you have given a useful tidbit of knowledge by citing a few excellent examples.

MikeN, I know of the simultaneous contrast phenomenon, and I consider it to be a type of optical illusion in which the eye gets fooled. It is for this reason in the lithographic trade, we view target colors with a small circle punched in a neutral gray, black, or white card of, maybe 2" x 2", when comparing the original target color to a proof or printed sheet. We lay this small, punched card on the target and sample color and view them together. That prevents the surrounding area of tone or color from influencing the target and sample colors. Yes, you can make gray look pink by surrounding it with a bright enough green!!

Now, the real trick of the trade is to use a black "color spotter" when comparing dark colors, such as dark browns, and a white "color spotter" when comparing light, pastel tints of colors. Try that, sometime if you're ever involved in checking the match of two colors.

Larry, thanks. Good observation!

MikeN, I believe you are absolutely correct in your assessment of the simultaneous contrast phenomenon. it is my opinion that that's why cast shadows appear bluish purple when the orange sun is setting.

Interesting information!

Bill

:)

diphascon
04-27-2003, 08:09 AM
Originally posted by WFMartin

MikeN, I know of the simultaneous contrast phenomenon, and I consider it to be a type of optical illusion in which the eye gets fooled.


I rather think it's the way the eye works. There are mechanisms that ensure that we see contrasting edges (brightness or colour contrast) exaggeratd. It's a feature, not a bug. Seems to be good for us. :)

Always be aware that what you see is in your head and has been processed by numerous neural mechanisms and isn't the 'reality'.

cheers - martin

LarrySeiler
04-27-2003, 10:44 AM
Originally posted by diphascon


Always be aware that what you see is in your head and has been processed by numerous neural mechanisms and isn't the 'reality'.

cheers - martin

yet when painting, and in the "zone" what your perceptions are regardless why they are there or held is all you've got. All you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough. This is what makes one artists vision unique from another and assures us there will yet be a place in the world.

Larry

mjc
04-29-2003, 02:14 PM
As a response to Jeremy on the physical coloring study, if I'm correct, the previous writer was referring to a book "Color Me Beautiful" by Carole Jackson. I had a great deal of fun with this book when I first learned about it. It deals with the best colors of clothing and make-up to wear and why certain colors will look great on you and others won't. (For example, as an "Autumn," I can wear all warm, deep colors, but nothing cool - like purple. As a matter of fact, I strongly dislike (hate?) the color purple and all it's configurations. There is nothing purple in my house or in my wardrobe.)

The book itself has been updated several times. It was originally geared for women, but I believe there has since been an issue done for men, too.

It was the first time I heard anything about "warm" and "cool" colors and it explained a lot for me. My mother had the inborn sense of color - but I did not inherit it. Too bad!

I enjoy WetCanvas and all its forums. Thanks to everyone for their ongoing help.

diphascon
05-08-2003, 07:35 AM
Originally posted by LarrySeiler

All you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough.

Larry is right, of course. To say "always be aware" is a bit strong. Just think about it for a minute or ten and then go ahead ...

cheers martin

indigobluetwo
05-08-2003, 03:28 PM
Also there is the case of color fatigue. If a viewer sees the sky as blue and the grass green, you need something to hold their interest.

Imagine my surprise seeing for the first time, Van Gogh's portrait where his skin was green and heavily rimmed with red around his eye. It was the most energetic portrait I have ever see. Have been a fan ever since.

Kristy

JoyJoyJoy
05-12-2003, 12:14 PM
Thank you for the interesting thread!

I tend to see colors more vibrantly than they are, and in areas of flat color. So, many of my pieces done for myself look almost cartoony... graphic, abstracted, and hard edged shapes... but I enjoy both the process and the finished pieces immensely.

For more classic paintings, I still start with a first coat of strong, flat areas of color and mute them down with subsequent layers... adding complimentary colors and texture, softening some edges, following traditional theories on what makes a good painting. I know this makes for a "more interesting" painting, for the purposes of sales. However, sometimes all that additional work is just plain boring to me, and I think the finished artwork is dull... but most other artists and customers like them.

So, I guess I have had to learn to see what other people see.

Nance

magnuscanis
05-21-2003, 07:33 AM
Sometimes I paint what I see. Other times I paint what I think should be there (which is often not the same thing). Still other times, and all too often (alas) I find I can't mix either the colour I'm seeing or the one that I'm wanting and end up painting with whatever poor approximation I've managed to concoct. It's very lazy I know, but as I get more experience I'm gradually getting better at both observing the colours of things and mixing them for myself.

When I first started serious photography, I found in myself the dawning of a new awareness and appreciation of light. Since getting into painting, I'm finding a similar thing with colour. I suppose it's an ongoing process. I'll never know all there is to know about colour (or any other aspect of painting) but hopefully I'll know more tomorrow than I did yesterday.