Friday, October 16, 2015

Value containers and what they hold

10 x 8
5.75 x 12
I'm enjoying working small right now.  The studio is full of paintings to go to small works shows at Tutt Art Gallery in Kelowna, BC, and Roux and Cyr International Fine Art Gallery in Portland, ME.  

These are two that I particularly enjoyed painting because of the unorthodox colours in the flesh tones.  Skin colour reflects all of the colours surrounding it - especially pale skin - so the children can take on blues, greens and oranges from their environment or from their own warm limbs. 

The photos that these came from were both very blurry and distant so they were no help except to show shapes and how the light and shadows fell on the figures.  That created the wonderful simplicity of two values in the figure.  I like to think of each separate tone as a container of value.  Within each container, there can be many colour and even temperature changes, but no major tonal change.  

Logic and years spent staring unnervingly at people in all different light conditions tells me that the top planes will receive a lot of sky colour in them.  That's why the cool purples,blues and greens work on the boy in "Water". Warm  cheeks will still glow through this reflected coolness and, even if the child were terribly pale, I would put the warmth there to suggest health.  

Though sunlight is generally cooler than we think, if I painted a bluish "daylight" temperature in the blown out lights on the children, it would be unpleasant.  Sunshine feels warm and inviting only when it has some of the warm spectrum in it: yellow, orange, or red.  This was a fact that I deliberately ignored in the boy in "Four" because, when I made his highlights as warm as his companions', the painting felt monotonous. That's the kiss of death.  So I reversed the temperature on him.  Yes, I know what I said earlier about unpleasantness, but it did what I wanted it to do: set the child up as the focal point because he's different.  The amount of warm light on the other 3 children means that the viewer accepts the premiss of a warm, sunny day despite an inconsistency.  

The experimentation continues and small works make it a joy. I'll post some more soon.  

Happy painting!

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