Setting Up Color

“Misty Brilliance”

oil on linen panel, 8″ x 10″
Some days it pays to get up early. When it comes to painting, some days it pays to stay in bed. Or so it seems. Today was an excellent day!!
The title of this piece came after I had completed the piece. The process here was to set up the brilliance of the color. To play down value contrasts and surround the color with neutrals. It is the neutrals in a painting that make the saturated colors seem as though they are screaming . . . . . . . . .or at least singing.
Today as I pushed through this piece, I found myself paying special attention to diminishing values and contrast in depth. That threw the foreground out at the viewer and emphasized the subject . . . .my beloved ice plant and all its colors against the sandstone cliffs of the Santa Cruz County coastline. I learned more as I painted this piece . . . . .let the paint do the talking, not the details. Why does a painter have to relearn these simple lessons over and over and over and over???? I guess habit must take over eventually. Details and minutae do nothing to make a painting stand up and sing.
I can smell the air in this painting . . . . .I am smiling !!!!!

8 thoughts on “Setting Up Color”

  1. I like this piece a lot Mike. It has lots of those subtle neutrals you talk about setting up those blasts of ice plant.
    The simple design works great here. Lots of depth, lots of color.

  2. Thanks for checking in Mike, good to hear from you..I’ve actually been by your blog surfing recently…top notch as usual my friend. Particularly your complex watercolor studio works, marvelous and courageous..good for you. I’ve been busy raising my son but still producing weekly. I’ll be checking back.
    All the best,

  3. Dear “onpainting” . . .You are probably right about the stuggle not ever getting easier. I have found that while we do grow to become better, we are always tasked with challenge so that we feel we have ‘earned’ our good paintings.

    Edgar Payne once said, “Nature does not capriciously scatter her secrets as golden gifts to lazy poets and luxurious darlings, but imposes task when she presents opportunity.”

    I always knew that, I guess. Acres of canvas . . . .etc!

  4. wow. that’s a beautiful painting!
    I read your intro and thought, “what a ballsy guy”, for lack of a better word, of course. I only post the ones that pass muster.
    What great comments here especially the ones regarding the struggle. Every time I paint it’s a ‘maybe’. When I get an ‘absolutely’, it feels as good as if it never happened before! Edgar Payne quote is great.

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