How subjective is colour?
I’ve been busy with client work the last few days so no painting, but last night I finally caught up so thismorning I’m recovering and sitting here thinking about colour.
I was just looking out of the window. Its a nice morning, bright and cold with some high cloud. I wasthinking how nice it would be to do a series of quick little studies of the trees at the bottom of the garden,through the winter and into the spring. A nice test of catching different light conditions without having togo out into the bloody cold.
Looking through the framer to see if I could get a nice composition, I had my left eye closed. The distancebetween the framer and the trees was so great (I think the garden’s about 50 feet long) that if I focused onthe trees I saw two framers with both eyes open, not ideal for working out a composition.
Eye ache started to set in, so I switched eyes and closed my right eye. The first thing that struck me wasthat the colour looked different. Left eye cooler, right eye warmer. It got me thinking. How do I knowwhen we look at the same object that we see the same colour? I don’t mean in broad general terms like blue and green,I know that happens. What I’m trying to get at is, what if you see the same green on a tree slightly cooler than I see it?I see warm brownish greens (right eye) and you see slightly darker more blue greens (left eye).
As far as painting goes, it got me wondering if its not so important to get the colour and tones exact,what matters is getting the relationships between them right. Perhaps that’s what conveys the strongest senseof light and reality of the objects in a painting to themost people. I’m thinking I should work out an exercise to test it, taking the same painting (the treesmaybe) and copying it in different keys to see what happens to the sense of light. Or maybe copying it withdifferent colour temperatures, or both. It would be a good exercise anyway, like a musician practicing scales.
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