Satisfied Inside

Satisfied Inside
Oil on linen • 7" x 13" • Sold
Window light will sometimes take on a greenish hue if there is sunlit foliage directly outside. The effect can be beautiful and provides an interesting variation from the typical bluish window light. The color of a light source can be identified most easily on white surfaces (eg. the white dresses in this piece) but will affect all surfaces the light hits.

It can be difficult to make all the elements in a scene look like they are illuminated by the same light source. One might think that all that is necessary is to simply identify the color of the light source (in this case "green") and then add a little bit of that color to all the other mixtures. However, this kind of mechanical color mixing rarely looks true-to-life. Yes, the color of each surface in a scene will be affected by the light source, but the degree to which each color is affected can only be determined through careful observation of the subject from life.

Master Artist Richard Schmid shares much practical guidance regarding color harmony in his book Alla Prima. Here are a few of my favorite quotes on the topic:

• "Harmony then is not 'what goes with what?' It is more like 'What color doesn't belong?'—What isn't possible under this light? Certain colors simply cannot occur under given light conditions."

• "To create the illusion of nature's light-generated harmony in a painting, it is usually only necessary to recognize which color is predominating in the light on your subject, and then restrain its complement… By 'restrain' a color I do not mean eliminate it; I mean subdue it by not showing it in its purest form."

[A color's complement is the color directly opposite it on the color wheel. Red is the complement to green. In the scene I painted, it would be impossible for a bright red to be visible under the greenish light. A bright red object would appear muted.]

• I think this quote helps sum up this post nicely: "Your perception and judgment are also a part of the harmony, and there is no formula for that. However, knowing that certain colors will probably have to be moderated to achieve a harmony will help your decision making."

Once again, I am reminded to just be faithful to paint what I see! And speaking of painting, I should get to that. So, until next time… happy painting to you all!