Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A certain kind of light

The appearance of everything we see is determined by how the object is lit. Sunlight can be harsh, glaring, bright, almost white as it tends to be on hot summer days, or soft, ranging in colour from orange through yellow to silver as I often see it in Northerly conditions especially in the winter. Light is difficult to capture. Often, your subject won't really start to 'pop' until you get the light 'truthful' or 'just right'. For me, watercolour is the perfect medium to depict atmosphere and light. The paper works with you and in areas where you leave the paper white, or apply a very light wash only, the light will shine through as it does in this view of Galway Bay seen from South Park.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Burren View from Spiddal Beach

I have been getting back into pastel painting recently. It's a very different process from acrylics and watercolour which I use most often. Using ready made pastel sticks restricts your use of colour somewhat, unless of course you have a vast selection of pastel sticks. To overcome this problem, I blend my pastels a lot. Not the most conservative of techniques, but it works very well for me. Careful blending combined with a slow build up of layers make for an overall smooth finish like what you see here. I use my fingers to blend the pastels, no torchon involved.

Burren View fr

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Take on Aerial Perspective


Autumn, Lough Nafooey, was painted from observation, and has a strong use of aerial perspective

After working with this concept a fair bit over the last few years, this is what I have come to conclude:

Aerial perspective is a visual tool allowing the artist to make their image readable by creating the illusion of distance in a 2D painting or drawing, most notably in landscapes. It involves reducing tonal strength of the 'more distant' area compares to the 'closer' area. This means toning down both lights and darks. Tonal contrast reduces in the distance.
Artists create this illusion by:

- making lighter marks for 'distant' areas
- using more greys or colours containing greys, blues or purple in the distance as opposed to more saturated colour in the foreground. (One way of reducing saturation is by mixing colours with their complimentary colour, i.e. green with red, blue with orange, and yellow with purple.)

This phenomenon can be observed in reality. When looking at a landscape closely you will see that more distant objects appear in a misty, blueish or purple haze, depending on the weather and climate you live in. However, I find, there are exceptions to this rule. For example in backlit conditions, a distant row of trees can be much stronger in tonality than what you see in the foreground.
Essentially, I have come to conclude, aerial perspective is a tool as opposed to a necessarily objective fact. You can use it at will to attract attention to certain parts of your image, and detract attention from others. In townscapes, for example, aerial perspective in observation would be hardly noticeable, but artists still use it in order to make the image appear 3D and also to induce a sense of order and priority when looking at the image. Areas of highest tinal contrast are always where the eye goes first. There is a sort of a sense of visual pleasure when this is contrasted with areas of less tonal contrast. Viewers who don't know the theory will say 'Oh, this looks so real.' But it is not necessarily true that the artist copied nature faithfully, rather he or she made decisions about how to organise the 2D surface in a beneficial way.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Coming together



Something's coming together in my painting of late. I can't really put words on it yet other than that it has become more fluid, and that I am more interested in the paint itself. It's taking on a look of its own. Very happy with that.