Colours that lie opposite each other on the colour wheel. Placed next to each other, complementary colours enhance the brilliance of both; mixed they cancel intensity.
Am I placing complementary goals in my life next to each other, or mixing them and getting mud ? Something to think about this year.
GOat in PEACE, 2015
A study in orange-red and blue-green
acrylic on canvas, 9” x 12”
Palette: Cadmium red, cadmium orange, cobalt turquoise, ultramarine, titanium white and ivory black
My oldest son and I were doing dishes yesterday in the late afternoon and got into a discussion about colour. I’d recently finished up a painting and he had graciously photographed it for me. He’d spent some time doing the colour correction and the results were quite good. I mentioned how hard it is for our brain to see colour sometimes. For example, I pointed out, the snow on the roof across the street that is in deep evening shade is really a very brilliant blue. He agreed that is was blue-ish, but not that blue. I have a little tool artists use for help in judging colour and value. It’s simply a piece of cardboard with a small square hole in the middle. The cardboard around the hole is painted what is known as “neutral grey value 5”. This colour is mid way between white and black and it eliminates the effects of other colours (and your brain) on the colour you’re trying to view. My son was very surprised just how blue the snow was ! We took turns looking through the view finder and then moving it away and laughing at how our brains kept turning the snow back to white (with just a bit of blue). I can actually look with one eye through the viewfinder and with the other at the whole scene and each eye sees a different colour ! Our brains say snow is white, the sky is blue and shadows are grey, but often they’re not. If I paint a picture the way my brain habitually thinks the colours are, in the end it won’t look right !
I think many things in life are like that. We think we know what we are looking at so we see what we know. If we act on that though, in the end it doesn’t always work right. Then we need to find some “neutral grey value 5” to help us see what is really there. Even with the viewfinder it can still be hard to get a colour just right, but I’ve got a better chance that way.
Some link love with a touch of grey …
I’ve been writing this post in my head for awhile, and by awhile I mean weeks. There is some sort of break between my head and my fingers when it comes to writing, or maybe it is easier to hit delete in my head (which actually explains the rather infrequent posts). However, the inspiration for the post, a painting, is finally finished which has given me a little boost in the I can get things done department.
I do dishes around here rather often ( so does my husband – not complaining dear !) and sometimes or maybe most of the time it feels like my effort would have more value elsewhere. But one particular day all the stainless steel pots and pans piled in the sink struck me as being rather artful. The cool light from the window was spilling over one half and the warm light from inside illuminated the other half. I stopped and took a picture. I ended up using this picture for an exercise in complementary colours I did in my slow attempt to start painting in acrylics. It was probably not a good choice for a beginner ; all hard lines and, reflections and shadows. I got rather frustrated on several occasions, but hey, not simple and frustrating can work sometimes too.
I’ve been thinking on what I value as an artistic experience, and my pots have inspired me to try and appreciate my everyday work as an important part of who I am as an artist. Strangely enough, a book I grabbed from the painting section at the library yielded this quote from the first page I flipped to:
When you wash dishes, be with the dishes only. … For the painter, mindfulness is a good exercise in concentration. – The Zen of Creative Painting
Was I being mindful when doing dishes and seeing a painting ? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m seldom thinking much about the dishes when doing them. I’m usually listening to music or watching the scenery out the window. Have I failed mindfulness ? It seems for me everything is turned around. When I ‘m painting I can’t be anything but mindful; I loose all sense of time and of having anything but form and colour in front of me. Painting is probably the closest I come to real meditation. Maybe art will lead me to mindfulness in life instead of mindfulness in life leading to art. Either way, I want to regard all of my daily experiences more highly.
On the other hand, you can read this (which appeared in my inbox not long after reading the aforementioned quote):
and get some more thoughts on mindfulness. It’s just that kind of day …
Time to paint !!!
Reflections on Value – a study in yellow and violet.
6 1/4” x 11” Acrylic on Illustration Board
I’ve been exploring neutral colours in colour mixing lately (acrylics), and now nature has obliged me with beautiful examples !