Sunday, August 2, 2009


I have been re-reading Faber Birren's book from cover to cover in order to fully comprehend his ideas. He has a very formal way of expressing himself and often it is difficult to totally process the concepts. Putting words to visual expression is very tricky I am finding out. It turns out that Birren's contribution to color as it applies to painting was mostly in the area of figuring out how to express luminosity, iridescence and luster along with chromatic light effects and mist, etc. Much of this is strange to apply to a portrait but the attempt creates some very unusual results. I don't think you can really get an iridescent face but I decided to do something with the formula in today's painting. The general idea is to have the majority of the painting in the mid value range fairly neutral with TONES and then have small touches of TINTS. Instead of having the TINTS as part of the features, I decided to super-impose these squares on top of the image just for the fun of it. By masking off the areas for tints, I was able to paint more easily. I created the TONES by mixing complements. I have my palette arranged according to Stephen Quiller's recommendations for perfect compliments. It makes life so easy when it is established this way. All of his palette is pure hues so it works very smoothly with Faber Birren's 7 forms of color triangle. This color effect is all about INTENSITY of color and controlling the VALUE range. INTENSITY is the degree of purity of hue versus neutralizing or dulling it down. The confusion of intensity comes when you lighten the hue but don't dull it. Theoretically it maintains it full intensity but not full SATURATION which has to do with the pigment load, not the purity. I understand the concept. I just think there could be a better term to describe the situation. I like PURITY myself but the term INTENSITY is here to stay.

Art has it's own specific language and we have to be consistent in order to communicate these visual concepts. Many years ago when I was a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis in one of my first classes, the professor gave a talk. I remember thinking it sounded like English but I didn't understand a thing he said! I hadn't learned "art speak" yet. I'm still working on it!


Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Wow! What an interesting portrait! There is soooo much to color! I like the play of the small squares of pure color against the muted tones. There is a definite mood!

Cindi said...

this has wonderful luminosity!! it worked!!! yippee!!
i giggled when you talked about art speak.. same thing happened the first years in my art class.. started at ground zero and i always left thinking.. what the heck did she say??.. a friend and i rode together and it helped.. on the way home we shared we each thought we heard and that way we got maybe 30%.. now ten years later i watch the new members and notice how this blank look appears on their face as the teacher starts talking of the ways i know ive grown in the ten years since... is that im get 93% now...on my own.. LOL
thanks for sharing myrna...

Nick said...

It's all Greek to me, I realize I know NOTHING! But I sure like the paintings you're doing, keep it up Myrna!

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