See If You Can Explain This . . .

“Meadow Stripes”
oil on stretched canvas, 16 x 20 inches
Warms advance and cools recede, right?

I have been painting the wildflowers in this meadow over the last few weeks. In meddling with one of the last paintings to make repairs, I decided to take license with color. That is to change several things to see what would happen (the cool thing about oil painting is that you can cover up anything! So you can experiment till your heart’s content and not waste a single piece of canvas . . .you can always go back over it!)

In this painting, the dark tree line in the rear of the picture space is cool red. While the hills in the back are pale, warm blue. The sky is a warm, pale yellow. The big tree on the right is green and the foreground ranges from blue violet to yellow grays to dull greens. My color logic says “no, this won’t work” . . .but it does.

If I think in literal terms, red is warmer than blue. That part is okay. But why does the red recede like it does in the tree line? The two green trees in this piece scream with warm, intense greens in the light, but out of the light they are icy blue in places.

Maybe the key to this piece is the warm, orange underpainting, which leaks through the colors in the foreground giving it an overall warm, advancing presence. Do ya think?

Thinking about the color wheel, I suppose that the yellow greens live higher, more toward warm than does the alizarin crimson based tree line. Whadda mind trick this painting is. Maybe you can explain it to me. ( I am serious!)

P.S. I’ll be signing off for a few weeks. I am going on a ‘walkabout.’ That is to say I’ll be travelling for a few weeks. This time no paints will accompany me (ouch!) Painting has always been my mistress, but this time I am taking the real mistress with me. She gets all my attention on this junket. If you knew her, you’d wonder who’d be able to pay attention to anything else! I’ll prolly be chewing my nails and twitching from the absence of paint and making art when I get back, but we are going where it’s a bit cold. So, there’ll be some snuggling happening, I am sure of it! 😉 (Maybe that’ll help!)

Meanwhile, be sure to tell me what you think about this color curiosity in the comments section.

5 thoughts on “See If You Can Explain This . . .”

  1. Hi Mike,
    OK, I'll throw out an idea. What if it's not a color issue alone? You have overlapping of shapes, values and edges to consider in aerial perspective. For example, the green trees are placed in front of the red tree shape, placement trumps color and the read in front of the red shape. The red shape has value, relative warmth as well as placement in front of the purple hill shape and so the red advances.

    I hope you have a good trip.

  2. Mike…
    Enjoy your Holiday, starting with a great July 4th.

    I love this painting for many reasons; I love the colors, and appreciate your own comments.
    For me, after exploring a lot, my eyes return to the border of the cool blue shape in back, against the warmer yellow sky. My eyes are attracted to these complements…

  3. Okay, I know next to nothing about color, but I'll give it a shot anyway. When sketching in black and white, it seems that the darker values recede. So, because the trees are such a dark value, they recede?

    Just found your site through Dan Kent. Looks very interesting around here, especially for someone just learning to paint!

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