Saturday, September 24, 2016

Broken Glass

Broken Glass
10" x 7 1/4 '', oil on linen, 2016

This composition is a simple juxtaposition between the woman and the broken wine glass. I limited the color palette to cool blues that circle the warm notes of the woman's face, hand, and hair.

Two basic harmonies in color theory are in play here: the analogous and the complementary. The analogous is a harmony of closely related hues, such as the varied blues in this painting; the complementary is a harmony of two hues that are opposite each other on the traditional artist's color wheel,* in this case the blues and the gold hair. Analogous harmonies tend to produce more radiant and subtle effects. Complementary harmonies would be more jazzy and energetic. Each has its own beauty.

Basic Color Wheel
Complementary colors: yellow/purple, orange/blue, red/green

In the following example, the red in the center of each panel is exactly the same red, but the surrounding colors create dramatically different effects. 

        analogous                                                   complementary    
         (radiant. subtle)                                            (jazzy, energetic)       

In contrast to Broken Glass, where the analogous harmony is predominant, my 2012 painting Hat Party is full of complementary harmonies, adding their energy to the narrative.

Hat Party
7" x 8", oil on linen, 2012
Private Collection, New York


* Isaac Newton is generally credited with the invention of the color wheel in 1706, when he arranged the colors created by a prism - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet - into a circle.


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  1. Excellent paintings -- and insight into basic color theory that I, for one, found greatly informative. Thanks.

  2. Jeff & I were just talking about the color wheel last night as we watched the sunset at Pigeon Cove in Rockport. I had no idea that Isaac Newton is credited for coming up with it! I love the new painting too - as usual, makes me wonder what's going on, why did the glass break



"There is more power in telling little than in telling all."
- Mark Rothko

“The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meanings are unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.”
- Magritte

"Now, the idea is to get everything right -- it's not just color or form or space or line -- it's everything all at once."
- Richard Diebenkorn

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the mystery of the instinctive in the human race.”
- Amedeo Modigliani