Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Art Story 2 - Color Theory Develops

Welcome to the latest installment of my art history and theory! Back in February I wrote that I had dropped out of college in 1977 and spent a year painting outdoors in my native Western New York.
I worked in oil paints and used only the three primary colors and white.Here is an example of a "typical" painting. As I painted, though, I struggled to get the colors to look like the scene.
Now, that is what all artists do, right?
We try to capture the scene: paint the sky blue and the grass green.
Well I started to see that the sky isn't "blue" and the grass
isn't "green".
found that I couldn't mix the colors together well enough on my palette to capture what I was seeing.
I was no longer content to mix paints on my palette and apply them to the canvas.
I realized that the colors I was seeing were swirling...there was no one color happening in that sky, there were many.
And the trees and grass weren't one color either.

The colors I was painting up to then were too "fixed" and
had no movement or life to them.

So I decided to experiment one day and just swirl the colors around as best I could -
not on my palette but on the actual canvas.

Here is the outcome. It isn't "pretty" but it was a breakthrough for me.
The colors I was seeing were moving and were mixing together in my eyes and mind. I realized in that moment how the viewer must bring him/herself to the thing being viewed.
If you notice in this close-up, each color is separate and yet in relation to every other color around it. The colors blend together as you look at them - and this is especially true the farther back you get from the painting.
At the same time I was uncovering my own art within me, I was entranced by Vincent Van Gogh's work. My color theories were evolving and I was finding that within each color lies it's opposite.
We are all aware of the experiment where you stare at a blue dot for a while and then when you look at a white wall, you will see an orange dot - blue's opposite color.

As I painted this scene shown here, I was staring into the bright morning sun coming up over a hill.
I took that position on purpose to force myself to see - experience - a full range of colors from darkest shadows to brightest sunshine, and to barely be able to see at all!! I was no Van Gogh but I was on to something!

Here is Van Gogh's "The Sower". Notice how he creates the hot feel of that morning sun by painting it using not only the typical oranges and yellows we associate with "sun" but with the opposite colors: blues and purples. He captured the full range of the color "experience" of a bright sunrise.
To be continued...

1 comment:

tbroback said...

Wow Kim, this is really impressive! Great work and also significant that you worked through it on your own. Mosaics are very similar to dots on a canvas aren't they? This makes me want to get back into painting again!