Monday, February 4, 2008

Brighter than White

Here's a melancholy little painting. Although forecasters had predicted a mostly sunny afternoon yesterday, a thick lid of cloud settled upon us around midday. A few flurries drifted down as I set up my easel.

Despite the grey, this hedge was suffused with plenty of subtle oranges and reds to draw my eye. In a few months, it will become a wall of bright yellow flowers. Forsythia is one of my favourites - when it blooms, you know for sure spring has arrived. We're nowhere near that yet, of course.

"February Forsythia"
6x8, oil, en plein air - SOLD
(click to see larger version)

In this painting, I wanted get the snow as bright as possible. It was brighter than the sky. But I didn't use pure white, not at first. Instead, I took white and knocked down the value one step, using a bit of Cadmium Yellow Deep and Phthalo Blue to grey it. I let this be my benchmark for the top end of my value scale and mixed all my other colours darker.

Holding back on my lightest light gave me room to punch up the snow where I wanted it as bright as possible. But for that finishing touch, I still didn't use pure white. Rather, I added a speck of Cadmium Yellow Light to pure white. You wouldn't think you could make white look brighter, but it does.

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