Sunset : 21 December, longest night – Black in paintings.

‘Sunset : 21 December, longest night’
medium size oil on canvas
8 figure (46 x 38 cm; approx 18 x 14 inches)
© adam cope

oil painting of sunset on longest night

Something amazing happened yesterday. The grey skies that have weighed us under this last month parted & THERE WAS LIGHT. It felt like rebirth. Longest night has passed & thankfully now we turn back towards the light.

Winter silhouettes of black (trees) against a colour rich, bright lit sky of clear winter colours, reflections in the river Dordogne.

Black in Painting

You will not be able to see this but the black in the painting is actually dioxazine violet with lamp black laid over the top. Most photography doesn’t register this difference in the low end of the tonal range. My Cannon EOS 400 D certainly can’t; it’s a bad camera with too many digital distortions in how it writes its files. Systematically underexposes & gets the colour wrong. The violet is a fine colourist complement for the yellows in the sky & doesn’t muddy the colours as black does. Like most colorists, I have a somewhat schizophrenic relationship to black. I prefer to ‘ break’ colours with their colourist mixing complement rather than tone down with black, thus arriving at a high key brighter palette, more suited for the luminousity of plein-air. Some call it a ‘chromatic black’ because it’s colour friendly.

‘Notan’

Yet black exists in the visual world, as a colour in its own right. It exists in my mind’s eye, in my map of colour… “Black Bible Black”. The marriage of ‘The Dark Partner’ to ‘The Shining Bride’ (white) is essential to a good painting. That’s to say that the black & white relationship is the base of a good watercolour. And even in an oil, the black scaffold gives structure & immediate impact to an image, which is essential in the quick glimpse, short attention span of the web. Some mistakenly call it ‘Notan’

5 Comments on “Sunset : 21 December, longest night – Black in paintings.

  1.  by  J.R. Baldini, plein air painter

    Adam

    Happy Christmas to you

    Jacq

  2.  by  Adam Cope

    hi cathy 🙂

    lots of happiness & painting/drawing to you in 2009

    it’s a lovely thing that we do (even if I don’t do it as well as i wish).

-->