Monday, October 12, 2009

sweet sunrise/october

about 5x8 pastel on watercolor

the field -photo
The sunrise light is cool and delicate. The green grasses appear blue/neutral and the sky is tinged with more green and yellow (after the pink fades.) This morning the grisaille was done on the spot and I tried to still keep free. Today I added the photo to my post. It shows my point(about cameras vs. the eye) made on Tuesday. What do you think?


My Camera World said...

I didn’t comment on Tuesday post but I though I would some insights about the Camera vs the eye confusion.

The biggest difference is that a camera eye both record but with the eye the brain has many layers of interpretation. Not in the artistic sense but in extracting data actually recorded by the eye and interpolating a lot like file compression and vector graphic software.

First the eye has cones and rods. Cones record colour and rods only in grey scale.

The 3 cones have a peak response at magenta-violet transition, middle green, and greenish-yellow. Because each human has small variation in cell structure this is why a small change in either of the green-yellow receptors cause people to see pure yellow as either leaning toward the green or orange.

The rods while only recording grey scale have a peak response at the blue-purple (like ultramarine blue).

This is why by example tomatoes will seem brighter in daylight in a blue bowl and yet at dusk, color may almost disappear and not the blue bowl is brighter that the tomatoes.

The eye records very fine detail, object and color perception in a very narrow central field of the eye but has poor detection of gradual contrast change and slower response. Here every cone has a direct signal out of the eye. The cones not at the center are have great contrast and motion detection and depth perception, but are color blind and lesser detail because many cones are combined to create on signal out of the eye. These are defined as the What system (central) and Where system (outside).

(reference: Vision and Art the Biology of seeing by Margret Livingstone) While being scientific it does a great job explaining why the impressionist painting and the modernist painters are able to achieve their effects.

Therefore at dawn and dusk when in dim light these 3 system combine to provide contradictory interpretation as our eye move about. When we focus one tree at the periphery the other parts of the eye record differently and yet when we move our eye to the periphery the information change because the central vision takes over. This is why at times the scene can seem to simmer in subtle colors as we scan around.

There is also a great web site called handprint which while focusing on the attribute of watercolour pigments (the same are used in pastels, acrylic and oils) it hasa a very in-depth artrcles on how the eye record and also great detail on color spaces.

The index is here and casution this can easily take you away for months of great reading.

Niels Henriksen

Cliff said...


Recently found your blog via the Daily Painter Review. What a fine collection of work and commentary!

Surely you have been asked before, but I can't find it via search: what weight and tooth (hot or cold or rough?) watercolor paper do you use, and how do you mount it while working? I never see any evidence of buckling in your photos of your work, and while I don't mind a little buckling in my watercolors, it would make for difficulties when mounting a finished pastel for framing.

Thank you so much for sharing your work and your thoughts with us!

loriann said...

Wow Niels! that is a very complex explanation. Thank you for taking the time to write it all down. I find it particularly interesting what you write about dawn and dusk. Does that mean that dawn and dusk really don't simmer in subtle colors that instead it is just a miss-read form our eyes scanning motion? I will also check out your suggested website. Thanks!!


PS I never meant to imply that painting is superior to photography as an art. It's just that using a photo as reference for creating a painting is not the best way.

loriann said...

Hi Cliff and thanks for checking out my blog!
I do not use watercolor paper. I use Uart paper, 400 grade. It is a sanded pastel paper. All I do is tape it (black masking tape) to a gatorboard and I am good to go. It rarely buckles at all, unless of course I am over zealous with watercolor which is only in the studio. If it does buckle I take it off the board, flatten it between two heavy books and its ready in the morning. I never happens in paint air because I never have time to overwork it:-)

Cheers! loriann

Double "D" said...

Hi Buddette,

Your interpretation is far more exciting than the photograph. I wish I had your vision for color. Your amazing.

Your painting Buddy

Donna T said...

Loriann, your painting is the perfect example of why I don't even bother to take photos of sunrises or sunsets any more. I much prefer the way your eyes saw this one!

My Camera World said...

I never meant to imply that I think one form of art is better than any other. I enjoy all forms of art. Unfortunately, some specific pieces I just don’t quite understand but I still enjoy.

Yes it is not miss-reading the colours, but the fact that the brain is getting different messages from the 3 types of input (not the RGB) but the rods, where and what systems

In the book I referenced there is an image of Monet’s Impression Sunrise –1872.

When you do a gray scale of the image the bright orange sun is the same value as the blue-gray fog, which in fact would not in reality. The sun should be lighter than the mist.

Because the where system can not differentiate the sun from the mist (depth perception) it causes confusion with the what system (colours) and for the viewer it appears to shimmer as the brain is trying to resolve the dilemma.

The author digitally altered the sun, in another version, to make it a lighter value of orange as it would be in real life and when you look at that version there is no glowing effect in the sun. Maybe real but less interesting.

Niels Henriksen

Jala Pfaff said...

That info from Niels is really interesting but I feel like I need months to read it over and over again until it makes sense to me. But I love how you show the and then your painting: we can see how much YOU see. Beautiful.

loriann said...

hi Niels, That is interesting. I think I would have to account the shimmer as simultaneous contrast. What do you think? Have you read Josef Albers?

loriann said...

Hi Jala, I agree with you. it is complex. While we artists have little resources to create the illusions we want. We do the best we can. Right?