Spring Bouquet, OIl on Panel, 7 x 5 inches
The way I’m painting flowers now is a very good example of two things:
1. Painting representationally isn’t always painting what you see
Because usually, you can’t.
Take these daffodils. If you look at the shadows inside the trumpets of daffodils indoors, there’s a good chance that you’ll find, like I have, that you can either hit the value right or the chroma right, but not both at the same time.
The compromise I’ve been using lately is to raise the value of the shadows, so that I can hit the chroma.
It also makes a value balance in the picture that is actually closer to impressionism than, say, classicism or naturalism.
I don’t think these pictures look particularly like impressionist work, because in terms of hue and chroma, I tend to stay quite close to what I see.
Good impressionsit painters, I think, introduce a lot of hues that aren’t actually there in the subject. They then rely on visaul mixing to create the impression of more accurate colour than they’ve actually used.
Done well, it’s beautful. But it’s not the way I paint, personally.
An interesting point, though: if you take a lot of impressionist paintings and desaturate them in photoshop or something similar, you’ll find a value balance similar to the ones I’m using lately – the darks are dark, but then the value balance goes up the scale quickly, resulting in a lighter painting overall, with the lights compressed into a narrow range.
Like this one.
2. How the Munsell big book can help you mix more expressive colour
I’m using my Munsell book to help me do this – but I’m not matching the colours
I start by finding the local colour of the subject – in this case, daffodils – by finding the closest chip from the Munsell book.
But that’s the end of the matching. After that point, I’m using knowledge gained from painting a lot of cubes and spheres, investigations into how local colours change from light to shadow, to work out where I want the shadows and lights to be – based on the value balance I’ve set up, which is all keyed from the shadow colour of the trumpets of the daffodils.
I feel this also makes a picture that’s more expressive of what draws me to paint these daffodils. It’s spring. The lightness and freshness of the days, the breezy sun and the end of winter, new beginnings and optimism. This is what these daffodils mean to me.
And I find that a lighter painting reflects these feelings more than, say, an eighteenth century Dutch flower painting (as beautiful as they are).
This is much easier to explain by watching than with words, so here are the two live sterams I did whilst paiting this little picture.
The first one is a little glitchy for the first few minutes, I was testing out some tech that didn’t quite work 🙂
But then it settles down I get straight into painting, describing what I’m doing as I go.
I hope they were useful.
Do you struggle with yellows? This might be the answer to your problems – or at least, bring you closer to understanding why you find them hard.
It’s mostly to do with the limitations of paint, and the link between value and chroma.
Best wishes and thanks for reading,
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