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”

Advertisements

Technique Tuesdays: Positive & Negative Space

Technique Tuesday positive negative spaceWhat is it?

The concept of positive and negative space is a fairly simple one. The subject of a work of art occupies the positive space, while everything else is considered negative space. Nearly every piece of representational art contains positive and negative space. The way that artists make use of positive and negative space to enhance their artworks is less simple, but very visually interesting. Negative space can be used in a number of creative ways, from balancing a composition to focusing the viewer’s eye to  adding to the visual interest of the positive space. To start, let’s look at a fairly simple and well known illustration of the concept, called “Rubin’s vase.”

Rubin2This example illustrates the manipulation of positive and negative space, as depending on how your eye determines what the positive space actually is, two different images can appear. If the central shape is interpreted as positive space, it appears to be a vase, but if that same shape is viewed as negative space, the profiles of two faces become apparent. Some artists focus primarily on the subject when determining their overall composition for a painting, but many enjoy playing with negative space and using it to balance the work.

Examples from art history:

Chinese art has always been an excellent example of the use of negative space to create a simplified, quiet, and somewhat “zen” atmosphere in a work. Especially with traditional calligraphic painting, the delicate use of black ink meant that utilizing the negative space well could be extra eye-catching and effective. As art has progressed, many well known artists have incorporated a deliberate use of negative space to add interest to a composition and to enhance the mood of a work. Check out how the negative space balances and affects the mood of these works:

AH Collage 1

(left to right) Wang Hui, “Ancient Temple in the Mountains” 17th century; Johannes Vermeer, “Young Woman with Water Pitcher” 1662 ; Francisco Goya, “Courtyard with Lunatics” 1794; Edgar Degas, “Ballet Rehearsal” 1873

Art in the twentieth century has seen a bit of a different and new trend when it comes to the use of negative space, as artists begin to play with optical illusions and the creation of images with the negative space itself. (This has become an even bigger trend within the realm of graphic design, and is a technique often utilized with logos, like the arrow formed between the “e” and “x” in the FedEx logo.) Here are some cool examples:

AH Collage 2

(left) Coles Phillips, “A Young Man’s Fancy” 1912; (middle) M.C. Escher, “Sky and Water I” 1938; (right) Rene Magritte, “Decalomania” 1966

 

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Everywhere you look here at Principle Gallery, you’ll spy examples of skilled and thoughtful use of negative space. For some artists, however, it is an especially important design element. Consider the work of Laura E. Pritchett:

Pritchett Collage

(left to right) Laura E. Pritchett, “Faith”, “Projection”, “Passing Through”

Laura’s thoughtful and liberal use of negative space as part of her compositions plays a big role in the way these works possess a sense of stillness and peace, as if a moment has been captured. Imagine for a moment if Laura had continued to fill the positive space of these works with more background imagery, more colors and textures and objects. It’d really change the impact of the paintings, don’t you think? You can check out all of Laura’s gorgeous, peaceful work at Principle Gallery on our website here.

Now check out these other awesome pieces at Principle Gallery, and take a moment to consider how and why you think the artist might have played with positive and negative space the way that they did:

PG Collage2

(left to right) Valerio D’Ospina, “Rainy Day in NYC”; Colin Fraser, “Highwayside”; Kevin Fitzgerald, “St. Martin Snow”; Mia Bergeron, “Limitless”

For more incredible artwork from Principle Gallery, be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!

Technique Tuesday: Pentimenti

Technique Tuesday pentimenti

What is it?

A pentimento (the plural is “pentimenti”) is an alteration in an artwork that becomes apparent by the marks and traces left behind from the artist’s original strokes. Although it is derived from the (you guessed it!) Italian word meaning “to repent,” it’s not quite accurate to call these marks mistakes. For a long time, artists took care to cover the changes they made to a painting and the pentimenti were only visible via infrared scans and X-rays. Take for example this image showing an X-ray of Netherlandish Renaissance painter Jan van Eyck’s famous “Arnolfini Wedding Portrait.”

tumblr_lnmdrniUz11qjioz4

Jan van Eyck, “Arnolfini Wedding Portrait” with detail of X-ray

It becomes apparent that the artist originally depicted the hand in one position, later to change his mind and adjust the angle of the hand. From the surface of the finished painting, this isn’t a change we can observe. You might be surprised to learn how many times an X-ray or scan of a well known work has revealed a pentimento showing the artist changed his or her mind about the composition!

Examples from art history:

Until the more free and expressive artistic movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, artists kept this type of pentimento well concealed except for in preliminary sketches. You can see pentimenti evident in each of these drawings by famous artists:

AH collage

(left) Leonardo da Vinci sketch of a horse; (middle) Edgar Degas sketches of dancers; (right) Vincent van Gogh sketched self portrait

Paul Cezanne was among the first to actually embrace pentimenti as something more than just evidence of a work in progress; he began to deliberately include a lot of pentimenti in his drawings to enhance the expressive nature of a work, as well as the three dimensional appearance.

Paul_Cézanne_-_Le_fils_de_l'artiste

Paul Cezanne, “The Artist’s Son Writing”

 

Examples from Principle Gallery:

As art has progressed and the realm of what is considered “proper” and “good” art has immeasurably broadened, pentimenti have evolved into an element that is often deliberately left in a finished work to add richness to it. One Principle Gallery artist who has mastered the use of pentimenti to add a sense of motion, expression, and visual interest to his work is the great Robert Liberace.

A locally based painter and painting teacher, Robert Liberace has been dubbed a “Living Master” for his incredible artworks, particularly his figurative paintings and portraits. Robert excels in portraying a figure in action, and his clever use of pentimenti heightens this effect. In the more active scenes, the lines of the pentimenti are particularly bold.

liberace collage 1

Robert Liberace, “Throwing Figure” (left); “Study in Motion” (right)

Robert also varies his use of this technique, as sometimes it becomes very subtle so as to unobtrusively add to the sense of motion, as in the image on the left. Other times, he leaves the pentimenti highly visible but “unfinished” in the background to give a sense of time elapsing during a motion, as in the example on the right.

liberace collage 2

Robert Liberace, “5th Circle” (left); “Telemon” (right)

We are thrilled to exhibit a large group of new works by Robert Liberace alongside his former student Teresa Oaxaca this month. In addition, following Teresa’s live painting demonstration on May 15th, we are so looking forward to another live demo as Robert Liberace paints a model live in the gallery on May 29th! Join us for the demonstration between 6 and 9 PM this coming Friday, and be sure to check out all of the new works in this exhibition on our website here!

 

 

 

Technique Tuesdays: Limited Palette

Technique Tuesday limited paletteWhat is it?

This week we’re taking a look at a method that some artists use to help enhance their work by creating color harmony and balance–the use of a limited palette. This is pretty much just what it sounds like. Thanks to the advances made over many centuries, artists today can go into an art supply store and choose from a vast plethora of paints in every imaginable color. This may at first seem like an advantage, but many artists in fact extol the virtues of using a very limited color palette. Working with only a few basic colors not only teaches beginning artists to explore mixing colors on their own, but also has a beautiful effect on the finished artwork. A limited palette often involves (though it does not necessarily include) the use of white and black, as well as one or two additional paint colors. All the varying values and tones resulting from these base palette colors end up having a harmonious flow to them thanks to those shared base colors. The choice to not use a large number of colors in a painting can also add to the sense of balance, increase the drama and mood, and even enhance the composition of a work by avoiding the distraction of too many colors and instead focusing on value, line, and form.

Examples from art history:

In a way, artists throughout history have necessarily worked with a limited color palette in comparison with the options available to artists today. But there were certain artists who experimented with a specific and very limited range of colors, to a lovely effect. Picasso’s “Blue Period” became an iconic part of his painting career, as he eschewed the full range of colors to focus on what he could communicate and emote through the spectrum of blues alone. Perhaps the most well-known proponent of the concept of a limited palette was notable Swedish painter Anders Zorn, whose unique palette of white, black, cadmium red, and yellow ochre has come to be known as the Zorn Palette and is still widely used by artists today. Edgar Degas, too, often experimented with different limited palettes to enhance the visual interest of his paintings.

AH Collage

(left) Pablo Picasso, “Mother and Child”; (middle) Anders Zorn, “Hins Anders”; (Edgar Degas) “Place de la Concorde”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

As is the case with many of the techniques we talk about on the blog, you’ll spot a good variety of our artists who sometimes incorporate the technique of a limited palette into their work. Next time you notice one of these artworks, take a minute to really look at the work and think about why the artist might have chosen to limit themselves to just a few colors. Does it give an interesting overall harmony to the colors? Does it bring the focus instead to the composition, or perhaps the lines? Does it seem to enhance the mood or atmosphere of the work?

Here are two great examples of the way some of our Principle Gallery artists play with a limited palette. On the left, you can see two works by California painter Felicia Forte, who enjoys working with and exploring the possibilities of the iconic Zorn Palette. Another great example of a limited color palette can be seen in the great majority of paintings by one of the artists from our upcoming two man show, Tempo and Pause (opening April 17th!), Valerio D’Ospina. Check out his works (seen here on the right) to see the way that Valerio’s limited palette brings amazing focus to the energy, line, and composition of his dynamic cityscapes.

PG Collage

(left two) Felicia Forte, “De Young Fountain” and “View to Alcatraz”; (right two) Valerio D’Ospina, “Looking Back” and “Warehouse at the Navy Yard”

Keep an eye out, because the preview for the Tempo and Pause exhibition featuring Valerio D’Ospina and Greg Gandy will be available very soon! Shoot us an email at info@principlegallery.com if you’d like to be on the list to see the digital preview as soon as it’s available!