Friday, November 9, 2012

Sparkle Secret


 
Here's a plein-air study of kids frolicking at the  beach by Peder Krøyer. The bits of foam seem whiter than white because in a way, they are.


(Detail of above) By applying the white as a very thick impasto, it sticks up above the rest of the paint, and even casts a little shadow underneath. Since most paintings are illuminated from above, those globs of paint catch a highlight that's actually whiter than ordinary white paint applied flat to the surface of the painting.
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Thanks, Timothy Adkins for the photo.

11 comments:

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

I've also found that adding a tiny speck of cadmium yellow light (or cadmium lemon) to the white will make it appear "whiter than white."

Joshua Pinkas said...

Things like this that can occur naturally due to the nature of the medium can be used to the great advantage of the artist. You can try to emulate it all you want when working digitally, but this is an advantage oils and acrylics have over digital. Of course us digital types have our own advantages...

It's all in the fun of learning to master a particular medium.

Tom Hart said...

How much illustration is scanned versus photographed for reproduction these days? I'm guessing that scanning would lose the sculptural/shadow effect of impasto to a large degree. But I'm also thinking that most work is photographed now, and can therefore be lit to accentuate this usually positive quality.

James Gurney said...

Tom, yes, good point. Art shot in museums or galleries has directional lighting that brings out the sculptural quality of the impastos. If the work is lit with two equal copy lights from the sides, the effect disappears. In a previous post, I talk about how my copy photographer, Art Evans of Massachusetts, uses directional lighting: http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2007/12/texture-part-1-surface.html

Michael, I'm glad you mentioned the benefit of warming the white a little to make it even brighter. It reproduces better that way, too.

Joshua, good point. Hand painted and digital (both 2D and 3D)—and photography— have distinctive qualities that are fun to emulate in a different medium. I know several photographers who go for a "painterly" look, and I know I'm influenced and inspired by digital tools even though I paint totally by hand.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how an unintended aspect of the medium can be used to great effect. It even works that way in the digital realm.
When I first did art for computer games on the Apple IIe and Commodore 64, our display consisted of a color television set. This meant a white pixel was bright enough to cast a shadow on the wall behind you! The pixels were big and bright, with a lot of spill, and I relied on that to blend my colors together. It worked great.
My happiness at the introduction of modern high resolution monitors was crushed when I could not use the same tricks. I found I had to tediously blend the colors by hand, and the results were still not as bright and vibrant as the old TVs.

Erik Bongers said...

It works brilliantly in the foreground, but he also used it in the background and there it breaks the illusion of depth.

Alex Ferree said...

I have found that you can even get a 3D texture with watercolor. Though it is probably more fragile than oil techniques, it does have that great popping effecting when used in the right place.

Cale said...

Hi James
Sorry off topic question: I am trying to find an artist you posted about. I believe he was Russian or maybe Scandinavian and did very dark, spooky, mysterious work. (I searched all these terms but came up empty, although I found a lot of cool stuff from way back!) I think I remember Sphinx(s) in one of the paintings. Hope you can help!

James Gurney said...

Cale, that sounds like Frantisek Kupka's "The Way of Silence." See: http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2012/02/stimmung.html

Cale said...

Thats him alright! Thanks James. Research/inspiration for a piece in a show with the theme "End of the world" haha. Ill let you know how it turns out

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