Friday, January 25, 2013


I've started reading a book called "Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light and Color" by Kevin Macpherson and so far it is an informative read. His book starts out with several pages about the equipment of a well prepared painter and even explains how to clean your brushes.  Very practical advice for any want to be en plein air painter.

 Mr. Macpherson refers to colors as "NOTES" which I found very interesting.  Chapter one is titled "Seeing Color Accurately"  He states that "You must train your eye to see and simplify."  A color note is the combination of the Hue (name of the color), + Value (degree of grayness) + Chroma (intensity or lack of) =COLOR NOTE.  On page 19, the author tells us that "Our preconceived thoughts limit our sensitivity to seeing."

I have often realized this with my own painting because preconceived mental images of simple things like rock, grass, trees and clouds all impact my paintings and cause struggles in my attempts to paint more convincing landscapes.  It is like I spent most of my life "not really seeing" the nature around me.  My natural tendency is to paint my landscapes too uniform and rigid.  I have often mentioned my struggle with painting something as simple as rocks looking like smooth river rocks and my bushes being soldiers at attention.

I was chatting about some of these points with my husband over our morning ritual of McDonald's coffee and he made the comment about looking at the colors out of focus.  I was pretty shocked at his intuition when I flipped the page to page 21 titled, "A Colorful World out of Focus".  Mr. Mcpaherson actually suggests taking off your glasses so that you are focused on the COLOR rather than the image.  He even talks about and gives examples of entire paintings he did without the aid of his glasses.  What a concept!

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