Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fig Painting and Color Confusion

Color is not so obvious. There are three attributes of color to consider in painting: hue (actual color name), value (dark/light) and saturation (dull/intense). And they are all relative. While the basic fig "hue" is pretty much a bluish purple, the variations in "value" and "saturation" help turn those purple egg shapes into figs.

These images from James Gurney's blog (Dinotopia creator) are cool optical illusions that show how dramatically value and hue can appear to change based on surroundings.

Check this out:
In the checkerboard, grey squares #1 and #2 are exactly the same color! Being me, I had to test it for myself in Photoshop. It's true: virtually identical RGB mixes for both.
© James Gurney's blog: Checkerboard
Same thing with hue - it's influenced by surrounding color information. Here's an almost unbelievable example, also from James Gurney's blog.

from James Gurney's blog: Color Constancy
James painted these and he wrote: "... the cyan square in the bottom corner of the red-lit scene is exactly the same color mixture as the red square in the upper corner of the green-lit scene."  Again, it checks out in Photoshop! And Photoshop never lies! (stop laughing, in this case it's true... I promise)

So, this phenomenon occurs everywhere and these vivid illustrations really helped remind me that color areas have to be looked at both independently and in relation to surrounding colors and values.

My figs are basically three purplish ovals, with a greener hue for the center fig. The roundness of the forms, surface details and areas of interest are established with subtle variations in value and saturation.
Three Little Figs ©2913 Dorothy Lorenze
Its a perfect example of why still life is such a fascinating painting genre. I love, love, LOVE traipsing through the labyrinth of color misdirections to figure out what's really there.

PS - Read more fro James Gurney by clicking here.
PPS - I wish I knew a good sports analogy to explain how exciting it is to me when these things come together. I'll have to ask the swimmers and baseball players who occupy all my non-painting time in the summer!

1 comment:

  1. I love color relationships, it creates visual interest throughout a piece.


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