Thursday, July 24, 2008


Black, just like white, is not a color.

Colors have three dimensions:
Hue, value and chroma.
Black is undoubtedly a hue.
As far as value goes, it is the darkest of all values on the scale, but it cannot vary in value like colors can. As soon as it is a bit lighter, it is not black any more.
And chroma, or intensity is fixed too, there is no blacker than black.

In painting, black has to be treated with a lot of respect. First of all, black easily dirties other colors. Also, black objects show a variety of color and values where the light hits them and it is important to look carefully to determine the hue of those colors. The most illuminated spot on a black object can be lighter than the darkest shadow on a white object.
I hardly ever use black (I believe there is still some paint in the one and only tube of black I ever bought), but rather mix the colors to interprete black with the three darkest transparent colors on the palette: Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Viridian Green. Real Black is only needed in the deepest of all accents, where no direct, nor reflected light hits the object.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

White - is it a Color?

No, it isn´t.

Many years ago, when I studied oil painting with Sebastian Capella, I learned that White and Black are not colors.
Let me explain:
Color has three dimensions, hue, value and croma.
Hue, as in the tone like red, yellow, blue, etc.;
Value, referring to the degree of light or dark on a scale between black and white;
And Croma, as in intensity or purity of the color.

White fits within the first dimension, it does have a name, so it qualifies as a hue, but it does not have any variation in value, nor in croma. White will always be the lightest on the value scale and there is no more than one intensity - white is white.

Any color, added to another one, will change that color´s hue. For example, if you add red to yellow you get orange, blue to yellow makes green, and so on.
White, added to any other color does not change that color´s hue, it will only affect its value and diminish its intensity.

I don´t use pure white when painting a white object, pure white is rarely found in nature, there is always a hint of another hue present. Shadows and reflected colors will show us the white object in a lovely variety of colors! It´s only our brain which reads them as white.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Painting versus Photography

Even though photography and painting (or sculpting) have a lot in common with respect to the perceptive mind of the artist, I believe each of the two art forms has a different ideal or purpose.
Photographers capture the beauty of one moment in time, even when this moment depicts a subject in motion. A painter, who´s work takes a few hours to do, witnesses the subject matter over a longer period of time, and interprets a personal impression of it. This impression should be charged with the painter´s emotions and will give not only a more or less accurate account of the scene, depending on the style, but also a glimpse of the artist´s character.
For me painting in a realistic way does not mean trying to compete with what a a photographer can do, that would be a waste of time, as the camera can deliver so much more precision.