Technique Tuesday: Broken Color

TT Broken ColorWhat is it?

The technique we’ll be looking at today is a fun one: broken color. This term refers to a technique where an artist will apply colors to a painting in small strokes, but does not blend them, so that they blend optically rather than literally. The effect of this technique a life and vibrancy, and a strong sensation of the sparkle of natural light. The idea of blending colors optically is one you may remember from our post on pointillism, though broken color is not a technique limited to small dots of brushstrokes and can be done with a lot of types of mark making.

Examples from art history:

As you’ve probably noticed, a majority of these techniques we’ve been discussing became a big “thing” during one of two times: the Italian Renaissance, and the Impressionist movement of the 19th century. Broken color comes to us from the latter. The Impressionists, especially the French Impressionists, were primarily concerned with emphasizing the effects of light and color, and less about making their paintings appear very neat, tight, and realistic. A huge part of the way they acheived this loose, sparkling effect of light was the use of broken color. By allowing the viewer’s eye to blend colors together, these painters were able to capture the real sensation of light and imbue the painting with a lot of energy. Though it really began with the Impressionists, broken color is a technique that was used by many differet types of artists in many different movements that followed.

Broken Color Collage

(left to right) Claude Monet, “Haystacks”; Edgar Degas, “Woman In the Bath”; Vincent Van Gogh, “Still Life with Lemons”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

This week, the gallery is preparing for the opening on Friday of Colin Fraser’s solo exhibiton, “Inner Light.” Colin Fraser’s work is a remarkable example of the magical effects of broken color. As Colin’s preferred medium is egg tempera, he ends up doing a lot of thin, small brush strokes and careful layering. The way that he handles the blending of colors using this method is truly extraordinary, and the overall sparkle and life of the light in his work is just gorgeous, particularly in person. If you’re able to come to the gallery to view the exhibition, be sure to get up close to these paintings–it’s a whole adventure in color up close!

If you’re able, please do join us for the opening reception for the exhibition, Friday October 16th, from 6:30 to 9 PM. And DON’T FORGET! Saturday, the 17th, from 1-4 PM, Colin will be doing a live egg tempera painting at the gallery, which we’ll be broadcasting live on our YouTube channel!

Celestial Sun HR

Colin Fraser, “Celestial Sun”

Genuflection, HR

Colin Fraser, “Genuflection”

Pastoral Suite Viridian HR

Colin Fraser, “Pastoral Suite Virdian”

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