November 14, 2009

At Large

"You will understand that I limited myself to simple colors, ocher, cobalt and Prussian blue, Naples yellow, sienna, black and white...I refrained from choosing 'nice' colors"...Vincent Van Gogh

I had never read this quote before, but I love learning what colors other artists "can't do without" and I immediately wanted to try his palette in order to see what he saw. Used to mixing with my lively orange-red, cad red light, my first thought is "where is his red?" but then I see sienna (a sad substitute for red in my world), and I realize that "red" is actually in several of his muted opaque colors as well...I know that pigments have changed over the years so I did a little research and discovered that the ochers and siennas were even more opaque when Van Gogh used them in the 1800s. Cobalt blue came into existence in 1804 and, along with Prussian blue (a warmer blue that was accidentally discovered), both are semi-transparent colors. Naples yellow is and was a warm yellow (meaning that it also has red in it), but was formally heavily (and dangerously) leaded. And because they can be warm, cool, transparent, semi-transparent or opaque, I'm left to ponder "which black" did he use?...and don't even get me started on the different whites. Oh! and the Cadmiums were not even introduced until the 20th century, giving way to transparencies 19th century painters could only have dreamt about as they attempted to thin down their opaques. Personally I think Vincent would have loved my cad red light...or would he have dismissed it as too 'nice'? Sigh...yes, folks, THIS is just the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night as I attempt to solve this splendid puzzle and mix his colors in my head. Hopeless, I know.


Edward Burton said...

I love your tree paintings, Faye, and your Van Gogh research - very interesting!

Antony Bridge said...

Absolutely stunning painting.

Anonymous said...

I think that's awesome.


Tracy Wall said...

Interesting facts and charming discussion Faye! I've been trying to bone up on my art history as well.
And, for the record, I think about color problems, too!!!

FCP said...

Thanks, all--it is good to know there are others out there who are also obsessed!
thanks for visiting,

Bonnie Luria said...

And when you're awake at night ruminating one method over another, well, why not call me?
Chances are, I'll be up too, head aching from too much thinking about methods.

Loved the fun with font colors and the mini education in art history.

Your waking hours are responsible for some wonderful work, as these trees attest.

Marian Fortunati said...

Actually I think you did his colors "proud". Lovely painting!!

AND I love all that info and the digging (research) and musings you did about the changes in pigments over the years. VERY interesting.... We're pretty spoiled aren't we??

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Loved reading this post. I agree, he would have loved Cad Red Light. I agree with Marian ... we are spoiled. Your painting is lovely.

Gwen Bell said...

Beautiful! And thanks so much for the color info. Very interesting! I'm with you...couldn't live without my Cad Red Light.