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Sunday, May 15, 2016

When the Sand is Blue...A Lesson in Observation

'Deep Breath'            9x12         pastel          ©Karen Margulis
Sand comes in many colors.  If you told me there was  such a thing as blue sand I am not sure I would believe it. I've seen white sand, black, yellow, peach, pink and even violet sand but I don't think I ever saw blue sand.  The truth is that the sand can be blue.  In certain light and conditions light colored sand can appear to be blue. Sand in shadows and sand without direct light will appear blue and violet and maybe even green. It isn't the local color we assign it...the color is determined by the conditions.

It is a matter of really seeing the true colors of things and not just jumping to the local color that we have assigned to those things.

When I started painting this sunrise beach scene my brain was trying to tell me that the sand was a pale creamy value...we would consider it  a 'white sand beach.'   But if I were to use a white or pale cream pastel the painting wouldn't look believable. I would have a sunrise sky with daytime 'sunny' sand. To put the sand in shadow I needed to override what my brain was trying to tell me and be a better OBSERVER.

close up detail of sand

When I took a deep breath and really looked at the sand I could see that it was definitely cool and blue. Yes I knew it was 'white sand' but it looked blue in the cool shadows of the sunrise. I painted the sand blue and the illusion of the rising sun was created.

sunrise pastels
It seems strange to paint a blue sandy beach but it is what I saw.  It is important to turn off the part of your brain that gives you the accepted local colors and really allow ourselves to see the color as it really appears. This will result in a painting that is more authentic.


Catherine Selinger said...

Such a great lesson! Two challenges (at least!) for me. Firstly, remembering to do this along with the zillion other things at the moment of truth. And if somehow miraculously I do remember, NOT ending up with the sand looking like water or snow!

Jewel Sauls said...

Karen, you are not only a wonderful artist, you are also a wonderful teacher. Not everyone has both gifts! Your posts have been so much help to me as a beginner. Thank you for all that you share!