Sunday, May 11, 2014

The big advances

Twice now I've made discoveries concerning color saturation, and in the second case also value, and each time it's signaled a big advancement of my abilities.

The first time was early on Spearpoint Diplomacy - so something like a year ago when I was still doing fluorescent paintings (the Tang Man period). I recall I had looked through a bunch of Frazetta paintings and was surprised at how toned-down they really are, when I thought of them as being extremely colorful and vivid. I realized at least in his earlier work he used a lot of earthtones and apparently chose one color to apply at high saturation, that then became the vivid color for that painting.

And now, after looking at my entire gallery page on Flickr I noticed that all my paintings suffered from low value ranges and some from dim color saturation (and some from too much saturation).

I'm not sure what to call these kind of revelations - global? They're on a very basic level, about some of the most basic elements of painting (of image-making itself, whatever the type). Something that affects the entire image overall, and in fact all of my work across the board.

I'm not sure what it means, if anything. I find myself now trying to make other such discoveries, looking at all my work, and at large groupings of the work of artists I admire, and hoping another lightning strike will signal yet another such quantum jump. But I don't think it works that way. I think it happens more gradually and you can't force it - it happens when it happens, and who knows, the next one might be about some totally different aspect of art. Or maybe from here it's more a matter of gradual accumulation of small tidbits of learning.

But anyway, it's really gratifying to see that all the word work does pay off, and at times with sudden leaps forward.

The first one was a big rough adjustment, from fluorescent Tang land to something roughly resembling more realistic painting. The second was more of a fine tuning adjustment. It's happening because I've been working with color enough, and long enough now, that my brain has subconsciously worked out some important aspects of color that I was still struggling with, though I wasn't aware of the problems. Man, I really can't believe now that I ever looked at those early paintings and didn't notice how dark they all were!! I knew there was something off, but I thought it was something more esoteric, some aspect of color I wasn't aware of yet or something.

** Edit

I just remembered - I had a similar experience way back sometime - I don't remember if it was the late 90s or early 2000s (probably) when I did the 1st oil painting of Fafhrd - the one of him standing in front of the blue mountains. The night before I had gathered together a stack of art books - Frazetta, Jones, and I don't recall who else, and looked at them until I became extremely sleepy all of a sudden, and I closed my eyes and literally had visions of all those paintings floating through my head. It was like one of those multiple exposure effects from an old movie with a bunch of eyeballs spinning across the scene gigantically. I'm not sure how to describe the revelations I had that night, but when I woke, I had a decent idea of how to approach painting in a similar style - it was something about leaving linework to describe the figure and then having large areas of light color like the whitish blue of the snowfields, contained within the linework sort of coloring book style. Big flat shapes, rather than a bunch of ill-defined scrubby scribbly stuff.

I think it's time to schedule another marathon art book sleep-in (and I suspect it's important that it take place in the state between waking and sleeping if possible)..

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