Surowicz Rocks: 4.12-4.19

This is an exercise from Rick Surowicz’s Podia Rocks and Water.

In these exercises, the top row focuses on mixing warm and cool washes, the bottom focuses on those same color variations, but now the focus is on value.

Lessons I learned:

Stop Stabbing

I didn’t notice until I was doing this that I have picked up a bad habit of stabbing pigment into the painting. Instead of pulling my brush gently across the paper, I have been quite literally stabbing at it. I noticed, and corrected this halfway through the second block on the top. You can see the way the wash appears almost polka-dotted in the top left wash, and in the upper half of the second wash. Once I changed to a smoother brush stroke, the wash became more even and the colors mingled more gently.

Don’t Start Arguments

I learned in the last lesson how important it is to set up my palette before painting, so I can introduce pigments to each other before they meet on the paper. If I put them on the paper straight from the tube, they’ll fight. If I introduce them on the palette first, they won’t.

In this exercise, I found myself grabbing my brush to go straight from one exercise to the next before cleaning and setting up my palette. But, I caught myself, and fixed it. I stopped, got my palette right, and then quickly painted the swatch.

There were a few times where I over mixed the washes on the paper. You can see this very clearly on the second wash toward the bottom.

Is Red Always Warm?

This is one I’m not sure about. Picture a standard slice of light cut by a prism. Red on top, violet on bottom.

When I think of warm and cool colors, I tend to think adding red will make it warmer, and adding blue will make it cooler. But maybe that’s wrong.

I guess it depends on what you mean by “warm” and “cool.” If warm really just means “Red” then sure, adding red always warms. But if warm means “hot”, then adding red won’t always make a color warmer. wwarmewarmer.

If we say red is warm, we are cutting it up like this:

But that’s just saying “anything red is warm.” In which case, why say “warm” and not just “red.”

What if “warm” means “hot.” Picture that beam of light is coming from the sun. If I’m standing in it, I’m warm. If I’m not, I’m in the shade, and I’m cool.

Here’s the thing: violet is closer to the end of the visible light spectrum than blue. So – wouldn’t violet be cooler than blue?

Magenta is above red, nearer infrared. Which means it’s closer to darkness than red. So Magenta in a way, is “redder” but it’s also closer to darkness.

If we think in those terms, then violet (which is traditionally considered warmer than blue, because it has red in it) should maybe be considered “cooler” than blue. If we think of light this way, maybe GREEN is the warmest color. Red is cooler than green, because it’s closer to nothingness. Yellow is cooler than green because it’s closer to nothingness. In that case, adding red will warm yellow into orange, but it will cool blue into violet. In the same way, adding blue will cool magenta into violet, or warm violet into blue.

Thinking of warm and cool this way splits our rainbow more like this:

I’ve never been to art school, so I don’t know if this is “traditionally” correct, but it makes sense to me.

This would help with value structure as well. White is so much light – it’s all the light… it is the warmest of the warms. Black is no light – so it’s the coolest of the cools.

Because white and black aren’t colors, we talk about them as values instead of colors. The closer to white, the lower the value. The closer to black, the higher the value. In this case, red can be high value, or low value, depending on how light or dark it is.

Thinking this way might help me differentiate color from value better than I’ve been able to do before.

Anyway – I’m moving on to the next exercises later today.

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