Friday, November 11, 2016

Limiting values

Woman in White
14 x 11
I was thinking of Manet's portrait of Victorine Meurent when I painted "Woman in White".

Manet was masterful at simplifying values; eliminating half tones, and grouping everything into either shadow or light.  It made his work powerfully modern and it expressed strong light perfectly.  There are colour changes within each of the major values, but, if you squint, they maintain a simple,  graphic separation between them, reminiscent of the flat, Warhol portraits of 100 years later.

I painted "Woman in White" with a 4 colour palette of blue-black, white, yellow ochre and terra rosa. It's a modified Zorn palette which replaces a high chroma red with an earth red.  The resulting colour range is deliberately muted to stop me from splashing out into colourist territory.  I wanted this to be a purely tonal piece, almost monochromatic but without the sense of an academic exercise that monochrome sometimes projects.

Perhaps my favourite part to work on was the lost edge between hand and chin.  Squinting showed me that they were close in value so I put them together and used the gap between cheek and palm to make sense of the area.

I enjoyed this experiment in limited value and colour.  It makes highly dramatic paintings that have a lot of presence.  I'll carry on noodling with it for a while until colour calls me back and I load up a full palette again.

Happy painting!


Karen Robinson said...

It's a lovely painting, well done! I love the soft pink on her right cheek. Did you work on a white canvas? There seems to be some violet, at the top left especially. Not sure if this was wiped on under the paint or if it is my monitor! I think limited palettes are brilliant. A sort-of-Zorn has helped me so much 😊

Ingrid Christensen said...

Good eye, Karen. It does have an undertone of purple in that corner; it's actually painted over a boring still life. I can't stand to lose a linen panel!

I think Zorn's legacy is a strong one; he's helped many painters find stronger work.

Thank you for reading and happy painting!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. Timely for me as I'm about to attempt a Zorn limited palette of alizarin crimson, lamp black, yellow ochre & white. Your painting is really strong....very nice. said...

Thanks for this post.....I love the strength in your painting....I just went back and re-read your email where you describe your modification of the Zorn limited palette. Good timing for me as I'm about to try the Zorn palette for the first time. I look forward to your next blog. said...

love your painting.....I'm about to try a limited palette, a la Zorn! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful work.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thank you for reading, Joyce! I'm pleased that the post piqued an interest in you.

Happy painting!

Ingrid Christensen said...

That's an interesting palette, Anonymous. I've never tried Alizarin as the red; only cad red light or terra rossa. I'd be curious to know how it goes.

Happy painting!