Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Many Colored Land

Color is all around us, here in Oregon it comes in so many shades and variations it is impossible not to think of color when you sit down to work.

But are you doing yourself and your art the best favor?

There is a lot to be said for monochrome work. Some of the greatest painters had whole periods where they worked in one color. Picasso is probably the most widely known principally because his “Blue” and “Rose” periods predate his experiments with Cubism and for many non critics are more understandable and acceptable than his work which veered so far from the pictorial.

In each of these periods Picasso worked with a single color or used a color scheme dominated by a single tone and that is why we call them blue and rose and not Picasso’s real art period.

Yeah but you aren’t Picasso and when you paint a boat or a flower or a tree it looks like a boat or a flower or a tree and you don’t need any color tricks to define it. You can paint with color because people will know what you are painting just by looking at it.

Which is a good thing and there’s no excuse for poor draftsmanship, but you can be a great craftsman and still play around with color.

Now I like the trees we have around here. They are actually trees and not the overgrown thorn bushes we call trees in Texas. You have so many kinds that they can be the subject of a whole year’s worth of work and not even begin to cover the vast wealth of foliage that is so generously supplied in Oregon.

But you can also get lost in trees. They have a way of blinding you to the “Big Picture”. Are you doing a portrait of the tree, including it as an element in a landscape or just working one in to add a bit of color to what would be a flat scene?

Do you want the whole tree, or just the leafy part? Maybe you want a bunch of trees and you have to decide where in the bunch you are going to start and where you are going to finish cause if you try to paint the whole stand of trees you are going to need a really big canvas.

When you do decide and start the work do you get what you saw in your mind’s eye or do you get just a bunch of trees hanging around sort of waiting for The Fonz to get there so the party can get started?

Maybe what you need is to simplify the image and make it a monochrome.

I took this on Libby Lane one afternoon. And yes, I did scout the trees for a while so that I knew just what I wanted to include. I took the picture and when I got it home and out of the camera it was just what I wanted, but then the devil whispered in my ear and claimed that I could make a better picture if I sucked all the color out of it.

That worked too, but then that whisper came again and said I should try tinting it with a whole bunch of colors and just see what it does and being able to resist anything, but temptation I gave in.

Most of the spectrum worked. But the one I really liked was the sea foam blue tinted one. 

Okay maybe you don’t, but that just shows to go ya what happens when you start looking at things with a different color filter before your gimlet-eyed, aesthetic, art critic spider sense gets turned up to full.

Okay so it works for trees. But that’s just because they don’t move and there’s no sense of action and they can’t be confused with anything else and that’s why you can cheat and make them into an expressionist still life and get away with it.

So let’s move on to something different.

Now I do wish that I had found another example which didn’t use blue as the underpinning, but the truth is that both of these just looked better with the blue tint.

Found these guys taking a break in Charleston and thought I should preserve them for some future project.

I know nothing about bicycles and biking and don’t really understand why anyone would put on those asphyxiating, torture devices masquerading as shorts, but the folks who do seem to think its okay and even though I get a twinge in my Fruit of the Looms just watching guys trying to pedal when clearly they have no room to maneuver, I’ll just leave them alone and let them do as they like even if they are risking permanent damage due to cutting off the circulation to a vital portion of the human condition, but that’s just my observation and I understand that the Vienna Boys Choir are always on the look out for lead sopranos.

But I captured them and their machines and when I got back to the ole rancho and processed the image it just said you need to tamper with this. You do remember what I said abut temptation?
Right, I did do it and I like what happened and yes it is blue again, but I am sure that it could be rose or gold or even green though why anyone would want a bunch of green men outside of Area 51 is not a subject for this blog, so they’ll just have to stay blue.

Take a look and see what you think. Maybe it will give a jolt to your creative energies and maybe you can come up with a monochrome image all of your own.

Anything that keeps you out of a rut is a good exercise and you don’t want to be just another rutting painter now do you?

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