Saturday, September 20, 2008

Simplfied Planes

To simplify something as complex as a rocky outcropping, it sometimes helps to think in terms of groups of planes.

In the case of these rocks along the coast of Maine, the rock naturally breaks into four fracture planes:
1. Top planes
2. Side planes in light
3. Front planes in halftone
4. Side planes in shadow

The actual scene had a lot more complexity of form and randomness of tones, but if you group the planes, it will be easier for the viewer to sort things out, and the form will carry more punch.

By the way, this was painted with a very limited palette: Black, white, burnt sienna, and yellow ochre. An ultra simple palette was enough for a pure form study.

When you're painting details of a larger scene, like these small figures in a Canaletto painting, you can simplify planes to light, halftone, and shadow. This makes the details read instantly, and it saves painting time.


Lauren said...

That wouldn't happen to be Prout's Neck on the coast of Scarborough, ME?

I'm pretty sure I recognize those very same rocks...

ZD said...

How did the blue get in the second one?

Anonymous said...

zd: I'd guess black and white combined to make a grey, which ended up looking cool compared to the warm tones of the rocks.

James Gurney said...

Yes, you've got it, Judetwee. The gray looks black by comparison to the warm colors.
Lauren, those rocks are on the coast of Mt. Desert Island.

snewo said...

I'm sorry, guys, but that blue doesn't just look blue. I checked it with a photo editor, and it's square in the blue end of the spectrum. I've tried this experiment myself, and I always just get gray. Cool, warm, whatever, but it's decidedly gray, not pale blue. Is this a particular type of black paint we're looking at here? I use ivory black and titanium white.

Anonymous said...

It does seem to be a certain type of black. If you look around the middle of the picture, there's a dark 'grey' that's the same kind of blue as the water.

And, well...I don't know if the picture is oils, but solvent tends to do odd things to your colors when you put in a lot of it. At least that's been my experience with it.

James Gurney said...

It does look blue in the picture, but I think that's because my camera was set for auto color balance. So it shifted the grays toward the blue. But they really were painted with ivory black and titanium white.