January 16, 2017

The Importance of Nuance

Cold Day, Warm Light, oil on canvas, 9X12"

 Oh my great gosh was it cold out this day!    My fingers were freezing and I only got to take one shot before my phone said "no more - too cold to function".   I was cross country skiing in -23, and I was finding it too cold to function also.  You guessed it - this was NOT painted plein air.  Too cold, not just for me, but for the oil paint which becomes tar-like in these kinds of temperatures!  The reference was taken up Hudson Bay Mountain in beautiful Smithers BC where I am currently visiting my good friend Poppy.

  We have been discussing the importance of nuance in painting, and this piece seems like a good study in that, so I thought I would share our discussion with you.

The ability to see and to paint nuance in visual art,  is developed over many many hours of practice.   It comes after all the "big" information, like the placement of large shapes, drawing,  and value and color relationships in the large areas.  It  often makes the difference between a mediocre result and a much stronger result.

  In a painting like the small study above, the small distinctions between values and colors that are close together are pivotal in creating a strong sense of light.   Here, a slight bump towards violet, or gold, or blue to describe the relationships in the shadows and the light was important to translate; also the changes from soft edges to slightly harder edges were key.

Bounced light has to have a value that keeps it in the shadow family, although sometimes just barely.  It changes temperature every time it changes plane.  Edges get slightly softer in the shadows as they move away from the object that is casting them.  Little things, important things.  I love doing little studies to explore the possibilities and sharpen my perceptions.

In only a few weeks  I leave the frozen north and journey to the sunny climes of Santa Barbara, CA.  If you want to come painting with me in a warmer climate, please email me and I will send the details.   The sun is warm, the beaches and bluffs are stunning and the instruction should be ok too, lol.  I have four spots left as of today.

What:  Plein Air Painting in Santa Barbara
Price: $300 US for four days
Dates:  Feb 11,12, and 18,19 with a bonus paint out day Feb 15.
Contact: gayemadams@gmail.com

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