Saturday, February 28, 2015


NATURAL ORDER.  On my last Facebook post, I was asked what accounts for lively color in our paintings, as opposed to feeling flat and uninteresting. A subject I truly love, and always work at with fascination. I attempted a short answer to my friends question, but the answer is actually too complex to address in a paragraph. So, I decided that a picture is worth a thousand words (I just thought that up!), and here is a demonstration of what I said, showing the resulting color harmony that results from giving attention to the elements of light.

A number of things affect the appearance of color in our paintings, and it's mostly a matter of relationship (the scale of light and dark). A clear separation of value steps is the beginning of beautiful color relationship. In daylight there is something like 3 or 4 steps between the lighted portion of an object and the part which is in the shade (I use a nine step value scale). This separation will hold true for every object in the scene. For instance a red ball will appear somewhat more orange in the light (because of the warmth of the light source), and somewhat more violet in the shade. The area of the ball that lies along the transitional half-tone between the light and shade will normally appear to be the true color of the ball and stronger in chroma than the colors in the light or shade. There is a beautiful natural harmony in the relationship of these as the object's local color is influenced by light. Contrast this same affect with say a green ball in the same light and a beautiful complementary harmony results, made even more beautiful by the relationship of the two colors as they appear in light, shade and half-tone. This is only a small beginning, but if you begin to apply this to your paintings you will see an immediate improvement in the quality of your color. I hope this helps, Tia. Best wishes.

©Jimmy Longacre 2014
6x8 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

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