PDA

View Full Version : Warm/cool visual forces


Einion
12-06-2002, 10:17 PM
Since a picture is worth a thousand words welcome to my 3,000-word post! In a recent discussion with Larry we debated about warm colours advancing and cool receding so I thought I'd illustrate my point with examples. I'm restricting myself to paintings because I didn't want any dispute about an effect being inherent to photographs only.

First example is by Gérôme, a detail from The Grey Cardinal. A couple of things to note here, first, the warmest hue for some (fairly rich in chroma) is the figure in yellow near the top of the stairs, yet it quite clearly inhabits the correct plane of the picture. Second, look at the foreground grouping: it has a figure in black flanked by two clothed in red yet he is clearly closer to the viewer than they (also despite black being a 'hole' in the visual plane!) The figure immediately to his right is also clearly closer to us than the bishop's cloak.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2002/Gerome_Ex.JPG

Next we come to the portrait of Princesse Albert de Broglie by Ingres which I think is particularly interesting since the blue of the dress and the mustard yellow of the brocade chair have no trouble occupying the same visual plane, despite being nearly directly 'opposite' in temperature.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2002/Ingres_Ex.JPG

Still in the 19th century, Confidences by Alma-Tadema. Of particular note is the lily(?) silhouetted against the fiery red of the wall - no doubt about which is closer is there? This picture clearly shows that a 'hot' background can work with cool foreground - ALL the foreground elements are cooler!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Dec-2002/Alma-Tadema_Ex.JPG

More examples in the next post.

Einion

Einion
12-06-2002, 10:37 PM
Back to the present, a painting by Robert Vickrey. The warmest hue is clearly the child's skin, yet the plane of the ground, the bicycle and its shadow are all visually closer. Also worth noting is the ground, uniform in hue from foreground to background but differences in detail and handling, the leaf shadows and other elements like the painted line helping to support the illusion of depth.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Dec-2002/Vickrey_Ex.JPG

Now two images, the left by Sir George Clausen, The Girl at the Gate, the right by Willem van Aelst. Both have cool foreground objects competing with warmer backgrounds. Both work perfectly well don't you agree?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Dec-2002/Clausen_vanAelst_Ex.JPG

This next example is Reverie by William Whitaker. The blue cloth fairly leaps forward doesn't it?

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Dec-2002/Whitaker_Ex.JPG

Lastly, two paintings by Richard Sloane. Triple Threat on the right does appear to illustrate Larry's point but I maintain that had the leaves in front been a cool dark green they could be made to come forward just as well because other visual effects are far more dominant, as we've seen. The image on the left, Looking For Trouble, distinctly shows that cool colours do not necessarily recede; would anyone dispute that the parrots are clearly closer than the leaves behind them? Yet they are predominantly very cool indeed.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Dec-2002/Sloane_Ex.JPG

Einion

bri
12-06-2002, 10:43 PM
Thanks for those pics...that Alma-Tadema is a rich one.

.............hot blues.........cool reds.........

~bri

-------------------------------------


Please sir, may I have some more
of that Fe............................304

TeAnne
12-07-2002, 09:06 AM
They are all gorgeous paintings. And yes, I agree with you, especially the red wall one.

LarrySeiler
12-08-2002, 09:34 AM
I labored to comment on each painting you had here Enion, but when I submitted for some reason a page expired window came up and I lost everything. So my comments this second time around will be more brief, and I might take a break to come back.

"The Grey Cardinal"

Here we see an interesting and typical device of angles and diagonals converging with the handrailings to direct attention and gaze like an arrow toward one of importance on that upper level. Note that where the artist wants most attention drawn, he has opted to paint a figure whose garment is yellow, and thus quite warm in temperature.

The reds are cooler...and especially played down in value, in fact that whole foreground is played down in value. Since the overall color mood and harmony of the painting is one that is warm, thus psychologically inviting...to have painted those figures cool would have been too much a contrast and gaudy. It would have disrupted such harmony. Thus, these reds are about as cool as the artist can get without such distraction and gaudiness. Yet at the place the artist wants our attention most, is this yellow figure and lightest value of the white next to him.

When I say that a warm color advances and a cool color recedes, one I did not invent such theory but promote and use it, two... I mean in even a greater way that such an application will shout to the viewer "look at me!" it commands our attention. In such a way then, it leaps out at us.

IN spite of the principles of perspective, and overlapping of shapes that figure commands our attention. The long flowing reddish gown of the right figure, the curvature of the shoulders, and the yellow on right really work to point our attention to the presence of one we cannot see.

Here is a graphic showing us this strongest attempt of the artist to move the viewer's eye. It begins with a red warmer than the other reds, yet the warmest color (yellow) at the top where the eye is then led to the right.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Dec-2002/gerome_graphic2.jpg

Why yellow at the turn of that arrow though? Why not if the person out of view to the right were so important, put the yellow to the farther right? Well...then that yellow would command so much attention, it would throw the picture's compositional balance off. The yellow commands attention, and its position maintains picture balance and emphasis.

There is a cool color figure about in the middle, yet sufficiently neutral so as to not command too much attention. So that he fits into the painting with the principle of color notation and rhythm, the artist finds a few other places to hint a similar cool color such as the square on the farthest back wall to the upper right, the figure on the stairwell, etc; by the same token so that the yellow figure is not isolated...he weaves it into the paintings overall presence by making the figures shoulder banner to the left yellow, yet subdued to subordinate, and one figure's hair, etc; So the artist is concerned about bouncing color around to balance as well.

So...I see the principles of overlapping, general rules of perspective place that figure further in the background as you note...yet, of all figures in this painting try to ignore that yellow person. You cannot. The eye path converges upon him as I have noted. Again...warm commands our attention, it advances toward us, and the artist used that principle to isolate and make prominent this particular figure.

Now...considering what happened to me before.... grrrrrrrr, I will submit this reply, and begin the next response!

Please be patient with me.....

Larry

bri
12-08-2002, 09:49 AM
I actually find The Grey Cardinal to be garish and a sort of jumble of values...not that this observation is tightly bound to the subject at hand, but if it weren't for the inclusion of Captain Morgan, (yes, there he is on the left in the well painted area) I'd turn from it immediately.

Viewing it also stresses my lumbar region.

...and how about that Tadema. I never thought I'd see a pair of blueberry slippers, but there they are...truly tasty paint there.

LarrySeiler
12-08-2002, 09:49 AM
First of all, there is a reason the blue dress and chair can exist in the same plane....actually a number of reasons, and do not discount at all that color can be used to advance or recede. In fact, I'll point out where Ingres made use of that principle in this work.

One reason first off that they exist in the same plane is the basic principle of perspective and depth placement. The are both visual masses, and both placed in the foreground.

Now...Ingres knows that alone is not enough. A painting to be a good painting like a good piece of music requires harmony and color rhythm...so if you use color, you must or ought to repeat it even if very subtlely elsewhere.

Note carefully that this blue dress reveals hints of the yellow found in the chair...on creases and folds nearer to the bottom of the chair. Not only does that warm up those areas by so doing, but it repeats thus establishes color rhythm. But...more importantly it pulls one object into the other and causes more integration of existing in this same plane as you point out.

Secondly, note that to render this dress, the artist places cooler colors and darker values trailing down the dress toward the floor, yet warmer blues by comparison relatively as the dress advances toward the light source 'till the highest highlight. As a result, this part of the dress commands our attention, leaps out toward the viewer or if you like, advances....as compared to the dress in shadow.

In the shadows of the elbow and fingers...Ingres hints blue, both to be reflective of the dress, but also to initiate that color rhythm principle. The cool color there works though, to push that flesh further back thus completing the illusion of being rounded.

Inspite of all that mass which is cool blue however, Ingres uses a couple devices to assure that the viewer's gaze will transfix upon her upper body ultimately, the face. The back of the chair works as a diagonal line which directs our gaze upward. The arms lead upward to the sleeve, then to the neckline and on up. While the chair is warm, it is yet darker in value...and cooler in temperature than the woman's flesh. So again, even though Ingres has used blue in the dress (for whatever reason)...he has tamed it by color noting the yellow here and there...but where when we first look at this work, and even now later find our gaze wanting to go?

Ingres intends us to look at her face and aristocratic fair skin. all lines lead up there, and ultimately the warmer lighter colors. Once again...commanding our attention, thus leaping out at the viewer.

Now, while the background is warmer in temperature than the chair, it is cooler in temperature than the chair and flesh. It also lacks detail and texture which cooperates with the principle of light, as light reveals and absence of light obscures or makes hidden. This device also works then to allow the dress WITH all its detail and texture to advance.

Thus, temperature of color is not the singular element to procure advancement, but a device relied upon quite consciously.

end this image...

Larry

LarrySeiler
12-08-2002, 10:05 AM
Here...red indeed smacks us upside the head. It does very much indeed come forward, however the principle of overlapping, foreground...middleground, and background serve to nearly cause that red to trip over itself as it smacks us!

It allows quite well the greens of the plant to be contrasted as its complement, but note that the plants vase is warmer in front, and a subtle cooler green on the left side thus working to make good rendering of form. The warm and yes lighter value of that pot thus advances toward us, while the cooler green left side recedes.

Secondly, the principle of values causes the lighter flowers to stand forth...yet note how the artist has used a barrier to cushion the shock of the contrast from this red wall background to the foremost figure in blue. It would have been simply too incredulous and gaudy perhaps to have placed that figure by itself against such a wall. Thus the figure to her right is darker in value than her, also, that garment has the hint of green in its warmer tone. Green being a secondary possessing blue poses an relief and cousin to that blue, yet it near matches the yellowish decor pattern of the red wall. Thus that figure bridges and connects to the red wall, and to the blue figure preparing us for the contrast and making the transition more at ease.

Note that the pillows too make such a bridge.

Now...for that foremost figure herself, we can see how warm advancing and cool receding works to render form. Note that beneath her left breast there is a hint of yellow in the blue garment which causes that to move forward toward the viewer yet at the same token we see hints of blue on her right breast area that not only reflects the blue shawl but conveniently pushes that breast further away from us. Again note the hint of yellows in her left thigh area leading to the knee which brings that area forward, whilst the top of her right leg falls into cool shadow thus pushing that area back.

Also note, that the shadow of the crease of her left rear shoulder against the pillow has yellow throughout it bringing that shadow closer toward the viewer, whereas by contrast the shadow of the shawl resting upon her right breast is cool in color.

I get the feeling myself however, that the artist is trying to portray a fragile frail person here of some aristocratic nature. The overpowering dominance of that backwall works psychologically to make its strong presence and almost consume these figures. Her pale skin, the downplaying of strong harsh contrasting shadows, near pastel blues and similarity of values to the blouse, reddish hair...all seems to suggest daintiness to me.

Color has been studied by social engineers, sociologists and psychologists and cool colors are thought to demonstrate a withdrawn more depressed emotion. If we dress in cool colors, the suggestion is we might actually repel people not to mention our own personality might be more melancholy. On the other hand, warmer colors are inviting, etc; They have especially done such studies as pertains to which color to paint walls in hospitals, clinics, etc; Dentists are better to paint warmer colors, as cooler colors work to make patients more tense, more nervous.

Thus...her cooler color as a choice here perhaps says something about her personality as well. Withdrawn. Depressed. Needing comfort which perhaps her aide is attempting to provide. Not a socialite...or at least one not feeling as though fitting in at that role.

Sometimes artists break rules or establish tension to create an emotive transferrence to the viewer. By use of such a powerful backwall with a color that wants to advance toward the viewer, and placing the figures as I have pointed out, I believe he has successfully used tension or broken/manipulated principles to cause us to muse her vulnerability.

Larry

LarrySeiler
12-08-2002, 10:33 AM
You point out that despite the boys warm flesh, we must note the objects in the foreground, the blue bike, etc., and yes...I must agree that other principles of design exist which can be manipulated to work together.

I will point out what is apparent and obvious to me, then take a break...

One...the painted line is wider at the bottom of the picture plane here than at the top, and the artist takes advantage of the viewer's mind to assume the line is in real life the same width, thus if smaller going back we presume depth. Secondly, the leaves in shadow of the foreground are notably larger than the ones in the background, thus once again a principle of perspective places them forward. Also the principle of foreground, middleground, and background places those objects forward as well.

Now...a shadow is darkest when it is closest to its source, and where there is light...light reveals. Absence of light obscures or makes hidden. Thus where the shadow is farthest from its source and opens up the heavens above, more atmospheric light is available. That more light is available implies and holds true that more "warmth" is available. The reader will observe here that the shadows of the bike are very dark, thus obviously closer to the bike. Less distance from its source means less opportunity for the warmth of the atmosphere to penetrate and make its influence known.

What I note and believe as I look at this painting as that the artist more than likely worked from a photograph. A camera which works on the basis of thru the lens metering priority diminishes color temperature and favors value. To pull in more light, the lens and film chemistry will darken the darks and diminish their importance. The problem with that is...we cannot see what is happening in the shadows.

I submit that had the artist painted this on location he would have probably observe that while the shadow was dark and thus that part of the ground hidden from the sun, that part would have been freely exposed to the influence of the blue sky above and would have revealed some cool color in that shadow. Thus, while the shadow works in the manner of values...it lacks life and comes off as a flatter work as a whole IMHO. It belies that which often marks the work of tonalists (which I once was for near 17 years and thus recognize it quite easily), whom working from photos often are not challenged by what they might see working directly from life.

If working from life...he certainly ignored the device available to him. Putting some cooler color in those shadows would not have only given greater atmospheric presence by including the influence and existence of a sky above (though we might not see that sky) but it would have conveniently created contrast as a device temperature-wise to cause that foreground in light to be stronger and more believable. Value alone in this case works only to a degree, but leaves the final image flatter.

Now...note however, that the shadows of leave in the middle ground being obviously further from its source than the shadow of the bike is not only lighter in value....but this time the artist reveals some warmth in that shadow. Chances are he would have seen this in a photo because once again a camera favors light over what happens in shadow. Since more light exists to influence that part of the shadow..the warmth might be detected.

By the same token...those leaves of the same tree that go back in the distance are darker thus suggesting being closer to its source. Absence of light is not only absence of the revealing of texture and detail, not only opportunity to make darker, but absence of the warming influence of light. Putting hints of cooler color in those shadows would have even more greatly brought life into this painting. Would have also pushed that area further back, and by comparison thus allowed the figure of the boy to come across even stronger.

Now....as to the child herself...once again I'm convinced a photo was referred to because the shadows show not only absence of light but absence of color. In real life...this does not happen. All values have color with exception of blackest blacks...but in the subtley of such shadows yes. To help render this form even more, some cooler color applied would have helped. There is the slightest hint of it, but more the reliance upon tonal values.

IN referring to the bicycle, though blue and in the foreground, note how our eyes are drawn to the child. For one...this is what the artist wants us to really see and have prominant. In this case, once again...light reveals and we see not only texture and detail...but we see light's influence of warmth...and she pops out at us. Despite the principle of perspective and the bike's placement....she gets our attention. While lighter values and detail help to create this affect, warm color as well in this case serves to cement that intention.

By the same token...why was not the bike painted red?

For one...the artist would be taking the risk that such a warm color placed in that part of the painting would throw off the pictoral balance and cause competition for the eye. How do I know this? Because even though the sun is shining and light influences objects to feel warmer he has neglected to render those parts of the bike where the light is shining. To do so, he would have to introduce warmer color...and that warmer color might compete...so he has left the bike rendered flat. By making and leaving it flat in appearance, he also causes it to be boring or less interesting in comparison to the figure.

In this case, he opts NOT to make the bike warm in color because whether he intellectually understands it or not....realizes that bike would command attention or come forward toward the viewer and compete with the subject area. Making it bluer, yet not intense in chroma....flat and intentionally less rendered he tells us a bike is there but that it is subordinate in importance and priority in constructing this work.

*whew....well, I'm going to take a break.

I hope you see what I'm getting at here Enion.

No colorist worth a grain of salt makes the mistake of ignoring the use of whatever design and composition principles there are at hand. I have never advocated such...thus I have no problem recognizing how other devices bring things forward or push back. Yet...as I have pointed out, knowing how to use color temperature can isolate what you want to prioritize. It can more adequately render. While value is needed to render, colorists do not see that absence of color is required. Absence of color takes the life out of it and makes a work flatter...less believable. IN fact, I believe all values of everything I see are a color of some kind. Simply lighter or darker....but still a color.

I don't think you have proved me wrong...but more or less have provided a platform for me to expound upon. Perhaps in so doing though, you will better understand me. I have labored to share the many devices I have seen that cause a work to work. Devices that I....uh hem, use as a "colorist" in my own work to make my works work. Not temperature alone....but as a conscious additional and all pervading device that together with other devices available to me render and make believable.

peace,

(tired....)

Larry

Einion
12-09-2002, 07:57 PM
Thanks for taking all the time (twice!) my sympathies :( You should compose in Word or something dude! Anyone who's had that problem happen even once on a long post should take steps!

Larry I haven't ever said the warm/cool advance/recede effect doesn't work or can be used:
Originally posted by Einion
warmer hues do not necessarily appear closer or the reverse
I'm saying that it doesn't necessarily hold - otherwise you couldn't directly flaunt the 'rule' (it is stated as a firm rule let's not forget) and get away with it. Other forces - perspective, compositional flow, overlapping form, edges, saturation/value contrast and so on - are more dominant visually, which you've just explained in detail for these images, supporting my argument :D

Einion

Einion
12-09-2002, 08:15 PM
P.S. That doesn't mean you can't choose to use it, goes back to if it works for you it works.

In relation to these pics, I wouldn't agree with all your analyses being accurate although I agree with most of it, like so many things in painting what you see and feel is important is conditioned by knowledge, prior experience, taste and preferences, i.e. you see what you want/expect to see up to a point. But they do make the point that using more than one effect to bolster a given illusion is often utilised and very effective. Perhaps that's the most important thing to remember, don't just use one device to do a certain job, use as many as you know or are appropriate in a given situation.

About the Vickrey work a couple of things. First I couldn't expect you to be familiar with him or his working method so you probably didn't know it's tempera on board. This is also scanned from his book so it's doubly removed (actually more than that, five steps at a guess!) from the reality of the actual painting which I know would be much more varied in reality from reading the text. So obviously the colour will be so distorted in the subtleties that one can't comment accurately. His working method is in studio, obviously for this medium, and he does make use of models, but his development of subject matter is very much from his imagination so compositionally you're right about a couple of things in that regard. I would for instance have rendered the edges of the leaf and bike shadows differently - soft and hard respectively - to show their relative distances, which they would in reality I'm fairly sure.

Einion

bruin70
12-10-2002, 04:44 AM
contrast (in whatever context one desires to define it) first
,,,color second. btw,,,warms are almost always LIGHTER than cools.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Dec-2002/warmcool2.jpg

below,,,the blue should pop out because,,,,it's bigger(contrast), brighter, and it's next to a very dark(contrast). if you see the small red square as popping out,,,,,,,,,YOU'RE WACKY!!!!. no, seriously....if you see the small red square as popping out more than the blue then i think you are simply prone to accept warms more readilly. because, in fact , both the blue square and small red square are equally bright.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Dec-2002/warmcool8.jpg


balance is as one wants to see it. in the grey cardinal, i see the yellow as virtually nonexistant, and the two whites having stronger impact(contrast). and that the "balance " of the painting rests with the guard on the left,,,or right in the example below.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Dec-2002/Gerome444_Ex.JPG

there are certainly"general rules of thumb",,,but it has been my experience that those "rules" tend to inhibit exploration and creativity.

....{M}

cobalt fingers
12-27-2002, 11:08 AM
Animals (and we are animals too) see shapes first likely for hunting and escaping being hunted. Even in these neat examples I see the really warm colors coming forth like the red background. It fairly rolls around the figures to me. The "cools" are very warm cools and the "warms" are not very hot-are they. Some of these examples -I think are people working to break "rules". Some seems a bit strained and stilted for the effort.

The red background of the two women reclining causes a tension that is contrary to their pose-which I suggest was Gerome's intent.

Keith Russell
01-07-2003, 11:43 PM
Greetings:

Einion, what I want to know is where you found those wonderful scans.

I've seen many of these images on the web before, but they've never looked as good as they do here...

Keith.

Einion
01-08-2003, 08:15 PM
Tim, as I said we see what we want or expect to see! :D

Well noticed Keith. Photoretouching is one of the aspects of my job so in each case I corrected the images if they needed it, especially the van Aelst which was not a good scan. The reductions from the originals will have helped in some cases too, plus the unsharp-mask just before saving. A great many scans on the web are not properly done, lack of sharpness and poor tonal balance being the two most common flaws (most often seen as poor darks).

In case you're interested the original pics from Gérôme, Ingres, Alma-Tadema and Clausen are from Artrenewal.org, which I'm sure comes as no surprise. I have more than one scan of the van Aelst pic but I think I used the one from a Hungarian site, which I probably located through Artcyclopedia.com. Whitaker's is from his site of course (always top-notch scans, didn't need to touch it except to cut off the border), Vickrey's I scanned from the cover of his book (which I now realise is a crop, doh) and Sloane's two I got from a gallery of his pics I finally managed to locate.

Einion

Keith Russell
01-10-2003, 04:17 PM
Einion:

Again, those are the nicest on-line images I've yet seen.

Keith.

bigflea
04-29-2005, 01:06 PM
Einion,

I have enjoyed reading through this thread, and appreciate your argument here. It is a point I have been making myself, but in a different way, and it is something I essentially agree with you about.

However only want to mention my observation regarding the Vickey image, of the child and bicycle. The painting , to me, relies on the value (dark to light),and tone (cool to warm) contrasts to create depth, as well as the linear directional flow of line, and the overlapping of images. However, to me the bicycle does not look like it advances, nor does the child appear to recede.
To me, they appear to be in the same plane, but with the child being suspended above the bicycle. There is no aerial recession in terms of hue changes in the receding space, just as there is no modeling of the figure in terms of hue changes that are characteristic to form visually.

It's a well done image, but imo does not do what you say it does.

You don't need to respond, since I already know your arguments about this topic. I am just clarifying that aerial perspective, visually, corresponds to changes in hues, and that value and tone relationships alone do not register the same way.
ken

Einion
05-01-2005, 08:11 PM
It is a point I have been making myself, but in a different way, and it is something I essentially agree with you about.
I've failed to see any instances of it that I can recall Ken but feel free to point me toward them if it is my memory that's at fault.

However only want to mention my observation regarding the Vickey image, of the child and bicycle. The painting , to me, relies on the value (dark to light),and tone (cool to warm) contrasts to create depth...
Value and tone are synonymous, it is hue changes you must be referring to in the second part here ("cool to warm").

I remember specifically addressing the Vickery image, and there it is in post #11. Please note the comment I made about the level of remove from the original - I expect it was shot as a transparency, scanned, reproduced to plates, printed in the book, scanned by me and adjusted and then displayed on your monitor so as I say above, the colour will be so distorted in the subtleties that one can't comment accurately.

However, relating to your point about 'cool and warm contasts to create depth', this embodies one of the crux points in the debate Ken, I hope you have a copy of Photoshop or PSP or something similar because I'd like you to examine the hue of the shadows and those of the lit areas - in particular those on the white line for the hue changes you think you're seeing. Note: this point is independent of the difference between the original and the posted image, it is the appearance of the JPEG itself and your comments indicate to me a specific bias as I've intimated in the past.

It's a well done image, but imo does not do what you say it does.
This is an interpretational difference probably keyed to the difference between yourself as a post-Impressionist/colourist and myself as a fan of realism, so I'm not that surprised. To quote something I said above:
...like so many things in painting what you see and feel is important is conditioned by knowledge, prior experience, taste and preferences, i.e. you see what you want/expect to see up to a point.

I am just clarifying that aerial perspective, visually, corresponds to changes in hues, and that value and tone relationships alone do not register the same way.
Aerial perspective, in the manner I think you are implying here, does not operate at the distance represented in the painting :rolleyes:

Einion

Mikey
05-04-2005, 06:21 AM
Einion,

We will agree that ariel perspective does not strictly apply at certain distances. However, I'm going to put this suggestion to you. What we have with a two dimensional surface is nothing but a bag of tricks to create an illusion of reality. Can we fool the viewers eyes into believing they are seeing a suggestion of depth? It is a question of whether human cognition of ariel perspective will apply at a closer range. It seems to me that painters do indeed use this means quite successfully, and what is more painters like Matisse equally so have reversed the procedure to create an illusion of flatness.

Mikey

Einion
05-04-2005, 04:32 PM
Yes Mikey, your point is entirely valid: we're free to use any of the 'tricks' we have available to us to make a given painting work as we see it.

But in the context of recent debate in the forum one point that is very relevant, I think, is the simple truth that aerial perspective - in the sense of increased distance accompanied by a blueing of hue and a general compression of value - doesn't operate at short range, although it's mentioned as an a priori assumption that it does; see the distinction?

Einion

WFMartin
05-04-2005, 10:27 PM
Einion,

Well, this is one discussion in which I claim to thoroughly agree with you.

Let me offer a few points which (I believe) support your premise.

If colors were so important in providing the illusion of "depth", how is it, then, that most artists are capable of providing the illusion of depth with a simple monochrome painting?

Well, if that is possible, which it certainly is, there must be something besides color providing the illusion.

I believe that this concept that cool colors recede, and warm colors advance was inspired by landscape artists, who continually noticed that far distant landmarks appeared "cooler", and foregrounds appeared "warmer". (Of course, even THAT idea can be shattered by some sunset paintings.)

Then, it seems that everyone from still life painters to portrait painters rather saw fit to "adopt" that concept in the creation of their own subjects, and, personally, I don't believe it holds water.

I realize that many artists actually contend that this warm/cool form of aerial or atmospheric depth or perspective literally can take place within the form of an apple at a distance of a few feet in a still life, or the dip of a model's neck, at an even closer distance--fractions of inches!!

My feeling that while perhaps this idea holds a modicum of truth in the great scheme of things, it just isn't obvious enough to a viewer of the scene (either artist or non-artist) to actually be capable of witnessing it,--at least enough to be able to paint it.

In my opinion, warm or cool colors of OBJECTS (not of distant mountains or horizon lines) can legitimately be placed anywhere within the painting, and yet be effective. Is any student of art actually naive' enough to imagine that an old master painter would purposely change the color of a woman's dress from blue to red, for the sole purpose of "making it 'advance'"? I don't think so!!

The thoughtful and carefully planned use of such items as hard and soft edges, proportions, vanishing points, lightening and darkening of tones, ovelapping planes, foreshortening, the proper placing of cast shadows, etc. provide FAR MORE illusion of distance and depth, than this idea involving warm=advance, and cool=recede. And, when the warm/cool concept actually DOES add to a painting, it generally is only applicable in a landsape type of painting.

But, think about this for a moment: Even a bright CYAN/BLUE object in the foreground of a far-reaching landscape painting, becomes more neutral (grayer) and lighter in the distance. That surely does not follow the idea that it must be BLUE-ER in order to "recede" into the distance. In this case, "gray" is actually "warmer" than "blue" on a color wheel, is it not?

I believe this rather agrees with your ideas, Einion. (Or most of them, anyway.) ;)

LarrySeiler
05-05-2005, 12:25 PM
Einion,


If colors were so important in providing the illusion of "depth", how is it, then, that most artists are capable of providing the illusion of depth with a simple monochrome painting?


Personally, I think there is great flexibility and constitution in the power of the human imagination. One could be asked to close their eyes while another verbally described the smells of a fragrant flowering plant. One could indeed sense that fragrance...and it could then be said that having the actual fragrance on hand is therefore unnecessary simply because others were able to enjoy the simple thought of it.

We know that an image artfully done requires basic compositional and design structures that manipulate the viewer's eye and engage their imagination. So long as we can thru that image take the viewer there...we can use their imagination to supplement what we have not physically created but only suggested.

I have learned more and more to do this with a limited palette.

With my split primary palette I could easily create whatever color I wanted. The limited palette has forced me to learn how reserve and manipulation coupled with compositional/design savvy can intuit in the viewer's imagination a belief of seeing what is not there physically.

When we argue about if a thing is needed or not, or what is better...we so often look at physical facts but do not take into consideration the spiritual mode and capability of human beings.

For years...I slavishly labored 200-300 hours to paint painstakingly every detail in the wildlife art genre. A brown trout had 170 rows of scales across its body...14-17 anal rays and so forth, a brook trout had 240 rows of scales.

Ducks had 10 primaries, 10 secondaries...greater and lesser coverts and three tertial flight feathers of their wings. Then there were the irridescent colorations of feather groups and angles for which light would hit feathers.

Barn owls had so many droppings of poop on a particular beam for Pete's sake...and we reduced judges in competitions to those that would begin to count EVERYTHING and determine then who would be eliminated and who would go on to be a finalist. The winner was he that dedicated his life to details, and artistic considerations came after the fact.

I spent as much time on the ground crawling on my belly getting close to wildlife, forcing me to become an expert photographer or sportsmen shooting and then mounting just to be prepared to engage competition and compare to the expertise of others...as I did perhaps painting itself. A wildlife artist was both an expert on the craft of painting and the subjects he/she favored.

What was very difficult for me coming out of that was seeing and attempting to justify loose painterly work. It took a long time for me to learn how a suggestion of detail might work in the mind of the imagination of the viewer, and a lot of giving myself permission to attempt such.

This question about cool and warm not being needed if a monochrome painting works after all...is much like saying painterliness working to suggest detail cancels out the need for hyper photorealism.

thing is...some have greater powers of imagination, some require different stimuli in the art work before such work touches their heart and interests.

I will argue that it was paying attention to warm and cool colors that taught me to render differently. It brought me away from needing to use black on my palette and that shadows could be constructed differently. No longer was the advantage of a shadow based simply on the difference of value from its area to a nearby lighter adjacent area. Now...I could cause that shadow to be cooler so that the warmer lighter area might pop more. Thus it popped for two reasons instead of just one. I could warm a shadow to make a cooler light area pop.

I could make a rounded area of a dog's head appear to be going back into space suggesting the presence of cools whereas the muzzle coming closer to the viewer using warms and use of values.

I think we need to be careful not to oversimplify like this saying because one thing works...the other is not useful or necessary. It depends upon what level of appreciation and imagination of the viewer you want to appeal to. I could be successful framing the moment differently with people by pulling out an actual bottle containing the fragrance, blindfolding them and asking them to smell and savor. Another group I could appeal to their imagination. Each experience of the two groups has validity for different reasons neither of which is necessarily more pertinent or important than the other.

Larry

bigflea
05-06-2005, 09:46 AM
Einion,
Yes if I saw the original artwork I would be fully prepared to see the image differently, that is, not surprised if it had more plane recession in its original composition and form. Same if I saw it on another moniter.

I won't point you to any old threads, but I think if you re read any of them, you would find that I have consistently made the point that the use of cool or warm colors does not equal a perception of aerial recession. Warm color can be recessional, cool color advancing, and it is the harmonic relationship of all colors used together that determines how any one of them is perceived.

A color that appears in a foreground cannot appear in the background if the intent of the work is to create an illusion of aerial recession. It would have to change as a color, ie. become either a different value, or become a different hue. Colors change in appearance in relationship to the colors around them, or color is perceived in the whole context of colors, not in isolation, which means an artist can make arrangements that have recessional warm colors and advancing cool colors.

Artists can use value alone to create modeling of form and aerial recession, but visually, the world is one of hue relationships.

An interesting question to pose(to anyone) is , what do you see first? Do you see things first by hue or by value or by shape?
ken

Einion
05-07-2005, 10:29 AM
Well, this is one discussion in which I claim to thoroughly agree with you.
Well the truth's hard to dismiss with some evidence in front of you, although some people still try... :)

If colors were so important in providing the illusion of "depth", how is it, then, that most artists are capable of providing the illusion of depth with a simple monochrome painting?
Yes, that is one of the points of fundamental importance in relation to much recent discussion, and not just in this thread either.

I believe that this concept that cool colors recede, and warm colors advance was inspired by landscape artists, who continually noticed that far distant landmarks appeared "cooler", and foregrounds appeared "warmer".
That's exactly where I theorised it stemmed from too in some previous discussion.

Of course, even THAT idea can be shattered by some sunset paintings.
Roger, I've made a similar point myself, funny how that so often seems to be overlooked when giving the 'rule' to someone don't you think?! And as far as the sky is concerned the horizon line is often 'warmer' than the sky higher in the visual field.

I realize that many artists actually contend that this warm/cool form of aerial or atmospheric depth or perspective literally can take place within the form of an apple at a distance of a few feet in a still life, or the dip of a model's neck, at an even closer distance--fractions of inches!!

My feeling that while perhaps this idea holds a modicum of truth in the great scheme of things, it just isn't obvious enough to a viewer of the scene (either artist or non-artist) to actually be capable of witnessing it,--at least enough to be able to paint it.
Well as open-minded as I try to be there's no way I can see aerial perspective effects at short distance, of any magnitude. From my observations the true effect - and to be clear, I'm not including dust, pollen, mist and other easily-visible airborne pollutants - only begins to occur at a few-hundred metres usually. Since the effect is one of the atmosphere scattering light it is directly linked to the density of the air, which is why we see such stunningly "clear" vistas at altitude - thinner air = less aerial perspective.

In my opinion, warm or cool colors of OBJECTS (not of distant mountains or horizon lines) can legitimately be placed anywhere within the painting, and yet be effective.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Aug-2003/3842-thumbsup.gif that was the basic reasoning behind this thread.


A brown trout had 170 rows of scales across its body...14-17 anal rays and so forth, a brook trout had 240 rows of scales.

Ducks had 10 primaries, 10 secondaries...greater and lesser coverts and three tertial flight feathers of their wings. Then there were the irridescent colorations of feather groups and angles for which light would hit feathers.
Wow, I had no idea that kind of detail was even aimed at, much less achieved... except in taxidermy!

No longer was the advantage of a shadow based simply on the difference of value from its area to a nearby lighter adjacent area. Now...I could cause that shadow to be cooler so that the warmer lighter area might pop more. Thus it popped for two reasons instead of just one. I could warm a shadow to make a cooler light area pop.
All valid, as we've talked about before. Some painters like to enhance the illusions within their work by doing this sort of thing.

I think we need to be careful not to oversimplify like this saying because one thing works...the other is not useful or necessary.
I think if we review the initial discussion we'd pretty much come to this consensus and as I say above, we're free to use any 'trick' we wish to make a passage or an entire painting work for us. The mistake some people make is to think, and then say as much, that because something works for them in a given situation it works all the time.

It depends upon what level of appreciation and imagination of the viewer...
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is something to always bear in mind ;)

Einion

Einion
05-07-2005, 10:49 AM
Now Ken, I notice that as usual you ignore the parts of a discussion that you are uncomfortable to address, instead of even attempting to seek common ground, as some of us try to do with you, you seem unwilling to even try to challenge your deeply-held views on an issue, since you can't see this for yourself let me point out that to others it would appear you don't think there is any possibility of you being wrong. Let me reiterate what I said, examine the hue of the shadows and those of the lit areas - in particular those on the white line for the hue changes you think you're seeing.

I don't make any apology for putting you on the spot here, given the level of certainty with which you consistently state things I don't think it's unfair to ask you to expound on this. If you merely misspoke then just say so, nobody will hold it against you; if on the other hand you did say exactly what you intended to say then I think an explanation is in order as it bears directly upon statements of 'fact' as you present them here again and again.

I won't point you to any old threads, but I think if you re read any of them, you would find that I have consistently made the point that the use of cool or warm colors does not equal a perception of aerial recession.
Actually in the general morass of what you try to instruct us on I'm sure that particular message got lost, although to be fair you don't stress that cool colour recede and warm colours advance but I don't remember you specifically making the point that they don't - and you do say above:
...no aerial recession in terms of hue changes in the receding space...
Which states quite unequivocally that you do think there are specific hue changes in receding planes does it not?

A color that appears in a foreground cannot appear in the background if the intent of the work is to create an illusion of aerial recession.
In general that is true. However you're ignoring your own point about the importance of context - the same colour can be made to appear quite different in certain circumstances so it could be used as a 'warm' accent in the foreground and a 'cool' accent in the recessional areas! All one has to do is utilise some of the techniques Larry often talks about.

...which means an artist can make arrangements that have recessional warm colors and advancing cool colors.
Yes, as I say above. Nice to see we can agree on something.

...but visually, the world is one of hue relationships.
No Ken, that's your opinion, not a fact. At the most basic level the visual world is one of colour relationships, hue is one of the lesser parts of this, with value dominant, and THAT is a fact. I'd love you to try to make this point to a lion as she has no difficulty stalking you in her monochromatic world...

An interesting question to pose(to anyone) is , what do you see first? Do you see things first by hue or by value or by shape?
By colour. Sounds like a good idea for a new thread Ken.

Einion

LarrySeiler
05-07-2005, 11:53 AM
Wow, I had no idea that kind of detail was even aimed at, much less achieved... except in taxidermy!

Here is an old carving I did of Brook Trout...note from this angle, the back tail fin has motion indicated by indulations suggesting water moving past them. In this regard, such work had to be SO SO much more involved than taxidermy by every standard. Taxidermy is easy compared to this. The scales are already there, you simply bring 'em out with a bit of touch up in paint. However, fins are thin membranes and taxidermists glue pieces of flat plastic to the back of fins for support. They appear flat on the wall. Plus a taxidermist sows up the back side skin with a form inserted inside the skin. A carving has to appear perfect from all sides and views. Note the rocks here and base...those too are carved. Only the glass eyes are allowed to be used that are produced, everything else has to be handmade...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-May-2005/532-brookies_carving.jpg

Interestingly...I found that use of warm and cool colors in shading three dimensional form of a carving enhanced its appearance as well.

Unfortunately while I enjoyed wood carving and earned some reputation for it at one time regionally, the amount of hours invested in one work does not compare to what I will make today in 2-3 hours of a painterly realistic plein air landscape. I may well carve again someday for the pleasure of it, but I would have to be fairly well off enough $$$$ where I might feel I had more right to determine the use of my time.

Still...between my past paintings and these carvings...I burned out on just how important it was to BE importantly known for them.

Larry

bigflea
05-07-2005, 09:19 PM
Einion,
You've lost me here. What exactly is it that I am supposed to be willing to expound on? It sounds like you are saying I need to expound on the hue changes that I see in the area of the white line in the image? I don't get what you are referring to.

I have stated elsewhere that color relationships change in hue as planes recede. For example, a flat ground plane receding into a distance will have changes in hue as well as value. Ofcourse, they may be very difficult to see and more difficult to paint credibly. Also, they may not be necessary for the image or the composition to be understood. So it is also a question of arrangement and selection. The local color quality, assuming a stable local color ground plane receding into distance, will change visibly in hue and value, when the whole context of the groundplane is observed obliquely. Usually some other elements factor into the problem making it easier to resolve . Imagine a painting of a giant asphalt parking lot and trying to create aerial recession by using value and hue changes only. An absurdity.

You are probably right about the lion and her monochromatic world, but I thought all of the debate was about human perception and interpretation of human visual perception, as well as other ways human insight, invention, and intelligence may or may not figure into the idea of making artwork. Do lions have any concept of painting?

As far as instructing anyone is concerned, I only have made good faith efforts to clarify what, i.m.experience, the study of light and color is in terms of an impressionist vision, and how it compares to illustration and contemporary realism. I have tried to represent a point of view only.

When you say the visually perceived world is a world of colour, I have to wonder what you mean. Does that mean it is a world of limited colours, where the colors only appear as certain sepia tones mixed with a bit of blue tones? Or do you mean it is a world of primary colors, or a world of secondary colors, or a world of tertiary, or complex color combinations? Or do you mean it is a world of color tone variations, eg. like a theme of warm colors varied by value and slight differences in hues? The description sounds very non descript, to me.

When I say that visually it is a world of hue differences, this includes the fact of value, saturation, chroma as part of the way hues are harmonically related. But I am willing to admit that a visual experience of the world does not necessarily mean there is anything there at all. So maybe you could clarify what you mean by colour as opposed to there being hues involved in your actual visual experience.
ken

drollere
05-16-2005, 06:27 PM
as i've explained elsewhere, the source of the "warm" color effects described as advancing, arousing, cheerful, stimulating, etc., arise entirely from the fact that warm pigments or paints are more saturated and/or lighter valued, in comparison to cool pigments or paints. period.

there is the separate question of whether the warm vs. cool contrast is important perceptually, or is useful in painting, and i believe that it definitely is: but this because of the naturally occurring shift in the color temperature of daylight that occurs from light to shade, and from sunrise to noon. our eyes have evolved, and been habituated by experience, to adapt to these changes imperceptibly.

the notion that "cool" hues express distance is simply an empirical claim, contingent on circumstances. anyone who has been out in a hazy or windy desert, or a very smoggy city (as happens often in rural china, by my experience) knows that the dust or smoke particles whiten and warm colors with distance, and produce a yellow or brownish rather than bluish pall over distant forms.

i don't have patience for the idea that composition or color or design "lead the eye" into or out of or round about a painting: this is 19th century art theory. (you find it in ruskin, for example, who correctly rejected the idea that "cool" colors express distance.) it's quite well established that the eye samples a painting in saccadic leaps or jumps, and that these brief fixations dwell the longest on the details that help to interpret the picture. a face, whatever its color and location, will always get longer and more frequent fixations than a color patch, whatever its color and location, especially if the facial image displays a strong emotion. example attached.

jdadson
09-14-2006, 07:08 PM
Rembrandt, the Painter at Work, has a lot of interesting stuff in it on advancing/receeding and so forth. In Rembrandts day, they called it "houding." Hope I spelled that right. I do not know how to pronounce it. The book quoted from one 17th century artist's essay that gave the lie to "warms advance, cools receed," The use of the words "warm" and "cool" for hues was still a couple of centuries away. I don't remember what words he used. His contention was that a very important element in making things advance was something that the book translated as perceptibility. By that he meant detail and texture. He gave the example of a blue sky versus a blue piece of paper. The sky has no perceptible texture; The paper has a perceptible texture.

jdadson
09-14-2006, 07:12 PM
The Night Watch contains the image of a brightly lit girl in a yellow dress. The leg of a soldier in dark pants is in front of her. Viewers don't seem to be bothered by it.

SweetBabyJ
09-15-2006, 12:24 AM
I just started this lesson with my beginning pastels class; I teach that *in general* warms come forward/cools recede". I broke the discussion down thusly:

First, warms and cools are relative- meaning no specific colour is warm or cool until it is placed next to another colour for comparison. Blue tones are often considered "cool" and yellows "warm" but I then demonstrated how blues could appear much warmer, and yellows much cooler simply by what colour(s) surrounds them.

Secondly, we discussed the graying effect of mixing, either physically or optically, a warm white into a cool blue (or whatever cool) to tint, and how even different blacks and darks can have a "temperature" signature which will influence dark tones. For instance, adding in a van dyke brown to a warm orange will not only darken the orange, but gray it some, too.

This was important for the students to understand, I felt, because while the rule is "cools recede", it really is much more that "greyed colours recede", and it does seem cools are most often at least slightly grayed.

Consider the Grey Cardinal- I do not see the yellow as "warm", so much as "greyed". To me, that greying functions as a "cool" and forces the cloak to recede. The red of the robe in front, while slightly greyed, is still a higher chroma than the yellow, and thus appears, to my eye, "warmer" than the yellow.

I explained and demonstrated for my students for 45 minutes. At the finish, they all look faintly overstuffed- except one who appeared mutinous- but were more than happy to start a still life of sunflowers in a copper kettle. Within a few minutes work, everyone but my mutinous student was beginning to understand through experience how and why the idea "warms come forward and cools recede" was helping them choose their colours and tones. The holdout, though, hated every minute of painting- she absolutely refused to bother skimming a cool lavender over her very pretty, very cheery warm yellow-orange to shadow and push the further blooms back.

Her finished piece looked much like an Elvis on Velvet would.

At least I got paid....

dbclemons
09-15-2006, 09:21 AM
We should not overlook the importance that value and chroma play in color compositions, beyond any sense of spacial depth of wam and cool. Usually the colors that tend to pop forward do so more for their contrast and color saturation level in relation to the colors and values around them.

gunzorro
09-15-2006, 10:13 AM
What a lot of blah-blah-blah to wade through! :)
Einion, I believe you miscalculated the value of pictures vs. words! :)

I agree with David, that value and chroma are the important parts of the illusion of depth. Bright, light items will draw the attention of the viewer; dark areas will diminish or recede. Given the same value, the viewer willl tend toward the highest chroma area.

I believe it was Bill who said the erroneous concept was misinterpreted from landscape tenents -- aerial perspective is probably where it comes from.

Bill made another excellent point about the power of monochrome images to produce a visual depth.

aszurblue
09-15-2006, 10:51 AM
Are you guys/gals aware how old this thread is?? I enjoyed every word... But SweetBaby nailed it :)