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...from the note pad of Shirley Reade

July 2008

“Colors appear what they are not, according to the ground that surrounds them.” –Leonardo Da Vinci
When you look at an object, what you see is a combination of physical perception and your “memory” of how things are supposed to look. If you look at a familiar object that is partially illuminated and partially shaded your perception will tell you that the object is all one color. An example might be a white house in an afternoon setting. The sun has moved far to the west, so the southern face is illuminated while the eastern wall is in shadow. As you view both walls, your experience tells you that the house is white even though the shaded wall has a considerably different color value than the wall in sunlight.

As an artist painting representational types of work, you paint the physical reality as your eye perceives it to be. That is where the ability to properly interpret what the eye sees becomes critical. Painting the entire house one shade of white fails to create value differences. Value differences give your painting dimension.

Of course, it is impossible to separate your experience from your paintings. This is where individuality enters into your work. It’s called an artist’s “style.” An artist may use three, four or even more values to build dimension and depth into an object. Taken individually, these values may appear totally out of place, but when properly combined, they compliment one another, creating dimension and shape. Used properly, they are perceived as correct by the mind’s eye.

Interior design color trends undergo constant transformation. People look for new ways to express their individuality. Knowing which colors will compliment those shifting trends is not only valuable in the artistic sense, but if you are trying to make your living as an artist, knowing how to use those designer colors is critical.

The use of color to express emotion is an age-old art. In a still life, the artist is hoping to intrigue the viewer with a captivating composition. There is no movement on the canvas. The scene is static. The only tool is color. By subtle use of color in developing shading and highlights, the composition comes to life.

We have been influenced by color all our lives. Before you started painting, you many not have understood the impact color has, but it has been noted that artists see color in a different way. Once you started painting, you began to understand the power color has on daily life. You know that color communicates powerfully to you as you paint. You’ve felt the tug of emotion with each brush stroke. You’ve seen the reactions people have to your work. Let the knowledge you’ve gained and the emotions you experience work for you.

Art Perspectives from Shirley Reade ©

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May your paintings bring light to your life and the lives of others!
- Shirley Reade ©