Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Old Master Design II

Today's discussion began with concepts of the color black, a true color and one that plays an important role. Not as a shadow, but as the local color of an object--coat, hat, whatever. By using black, one is assured of reaching into at least one end of the tonal scale. It's also a fine desaturizer as well. Remember my Zorn palette posts where I got greens from vine black with yellow and violets with red?

Further talk on Old Master palette opened up the possibility of considering green as a fourth primary--or maybe at times a replacement for yellow.

Below is a color exercise that takes me back to my "Yellow and Blue Don't Make Green" exercises. Although for today's exercises we used high chroma pigments, we were encouraged to try replacing warm yellow (cad yellow) and warm red (cad red) with yellow and red ocher. Below you can see that I tried out the yellow ocher. Good stuff.

We were encouraged to understand our palette. For each pigment, what is the chroma, temperature, and value?

I think this might be a quote from today, "Beautiful color comes from relationships." Establish relationships by using lots of low chromas and neutrals. Use areas of warm and cool.

Next up was light, beginning with cast shadow principles--sharp delineation at source, diffusing as shadow extends; mimic shape of casting object; express a definite end; show a bit of warmth in deepest shadows; incorporate a "light accent" by presenting extra light on the forward edge at the start of cast shadow.

Below is an exercise that not only had one thinking about cast shadows but applying principles of perspective to place the shadows realistically. By realism is not meant "exactly right" in a mathematical sense but close enough not to draw uneasy attention.

Continuing with light, we studied highlights. Correct placement is a good start but one must consider that a highlight diffuses--it's not just a hard-edged dot. You can see my reminder note to myself. Also, I hadn't considered all the places a highlight could appear on the vase. I think that this kind of exercise is so very useful as I think I will now be looking, simply looking and seeing, in better style.

Today's final exercise involved creating our own tonal scale from a model. Not bad, but I did have a bit of a leap between the third and fourth down. That's when I flipped direction and wrapped up by coming in from the black. Still, pretty close.

Note that although I have mostly been presenting today's session from the exercise point of view, each subject began with lecture. I should also mention that we have a textbook of Koo's creation that follow the workshop perfectly. Another student and I were comparing experience, both of us remembering Koo's exact words as we read her textbook last evening after class. In other words, super reinforcement.

Thought that was it? Nope! :-) Next we took on reflected light. Shiny objects, from highly reflective metal and mirror that capture fine detail to softer objects with more amorphous shape. 

Lastly, we began looking at Value, the most important element of interest. A well designed painting based on fine value will stand up without color. Fascinating thought, isn't it? 


  1. So fascinating. I have no art education and reading your posts has made me realise that even more. I want to be in Massachusetts... :>)

  2. I am so, so lucky for this workshop. Sigh... only one day left. But next week, it is on to egg tempera!