Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Why Put Impastos in the White Areas?

Walter Wick asks: "Why [do you put] impasto in the highlights and not in the shadows?"

Light hitting the surface of the painting at an oblique angle hit the up-facing planes of the impasto and reflect a highlight that's higher in value than the same white that's in the plane of the painting's surface. Of course that introduces some darker planes too, but the effect can be worth it.

This effect of impasto texture works better when you're looking at the original painting under the right lighting conditions.

You do occasionally see impastos in the darks or overall in a painting. Norman Rockwell occasionally did it, and Lucian Freud often did it. It's an interesting effect, introducing highlights into dark areas, which can create a weird effect.


Steve Gilzow said...

Walter Wick's books -- the I Spy series and A Drop of Water -- were constant sources of visual and intellectual nourishment for my fourth grade students in the 1990s. His inventiveness and attention to detail are inspirational.

When I was able to see Rockwell's originals at the Rockwell Museum I was struck by his use of impasto -- particularly in the Four Freedoms paintings and, of those, Freedom from Want (the Thanksgiving dinner table scene) in particular.

Paul Sullivan said...

You mentioned the use of impasto in dark areas and that Rockwell did it at times. I’d like to you elaborate on this.

I’ve always been a big fan of Rockwell and was surprised at his use of heavy texture in some paintings. One example of that is the paint on an artist’s palette (the art student in the museum). That is almost 3D as are the raindrops in another painting (the young girl artist fleeing from the rain). There is some risk in that when painting for reproduction, unless the paintings were separated form color transparencies rather than original art.—Paul