method notes


ON THE SPOT OIL STUDIES


• The colours we see are effected by colours around them; so for both studies colour patches were painted as contexts for smaller colour areas. These patches are now partly covered up or modified, but enough is left to refer to in the studio. An example would be the different colours of rock which started out as base colours, which now surround green plant colours painted into them.

Image

• I look for associations of colour and texture: colour-textures. These often express a single natural organism or material, like the material and texture of a plant or rock. In the study above the upper left greens are beech. In the lower canopy beech has flat rafts of leaves, which make a distinctive colour-texture. Within that there further colour variations, and I pick the smallest number I need to give the character of what I see. I only have to paint one mark to stand for a group of similar colours, because later I can find the distribution of that colour using computer software, and so reveal the colour-texture.

• Colour-textures are often associated with individual things, but perceived colour-textures may override object types. For example, the right bank of the study above contains a variety of plant species, but my first impression was of two colour textures: one a haze of dark blue-green dots, the other a pattern of large blue-green leaves, set in a dull magenta field. So those were the colours I tried to record first. Again, both colour-textures can later be pulled out of an appropriately exposed photo.

Image

The pool for both studies was a different problem because I used glazes for a sense of water depth. It's tricky to predict the combined effect of superimposed glazes. But I began by giving each area of the pool a base hue and tone relative to its neighbours. Saturation was then built up with glazes, as a test run for the studio.

• The pinkish grey patches painted on top of the glazed area are for the colour-textures of reflected light from wavelets. 
 
• For 'Furnace summer cloud' I became aware of ambient green light under the canopy. I was suurprised, as our visual system usually removes the colour of the illumination to maintain colour constancy. But you can see ambient light when two differently lit areas are juxtaposed: compare yellow domestic lights seen from outside a house at night - when you can compare the light in the window with the night sky - to the light if you are inside the same room, which can hardly seem yellow at all and where a white object looks white, not yellow.

In this case I started to notice warm green light across the pool when I found myself adding warm green to quite unlikely colours. As I was sitting in a opening among the trees, I may have been comparing the green light under the trees with cooler daylight falling on my pallate. But whatever the cause, halfway through I covered most of the study with a sap green glaze, and there was an instant improvement.

I added brighter whites, greys and pinks later, on top of the glaze, as I had no sense of green in these colours.

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