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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Lesson in Simultaneous Contrast

'Epic Wishes'         12 x 12        pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $165
 I love it when I can put a lesson to good use. When we are learning how to paint we amass so much information. Our heads start to swim with all of the dos and don'ts, rules and guidelines. The more we learn the harder it is to keep track of the things needed for a good painting. And sometimes the concepts we learn or read about don't quite make sense. Value is one of the concepts that confused me for a long time. Simultaneous Contrast is another big one.  I understood what it was but wasn't sure how to use it. It seemed 'above my head'.

But one day it finally clicked. It made sense. The idea that everything is affected by it's opposite made perfect sense. Understanding this idea allows us to make better choices when painting. (you can read more about simultaneous contrast in this post by Richard McKinley. click here.)

I was struggling with my dandelion painting today. I could not seem to get the fluffy white seed heads to look bright enough. I didn't want to use white pastels but the lightest value I had was not allowing the seed heads to 'pop'. And then I remembered......Simultaneous Contrast! Everything is affected by it's opposite.

I could keep trying to get the dandelion puffs lighter and lighter but it would be better to darken the area around the light seed heads. Having the sky darker would make the lights appear brighter! That was the simple solution and it is something that is so helpful in so many painting situations.  I'm glad I remembered the lesson today!

the initial drawing on 12x12 Uart

underpainting with Inktense sticks and Nupastels with a water wash
The subject of today's painting were some epic seedheads from the giant dandelions in Iceland. They are huge...maybe three feet tall! They make great dandelion puffs good for epic wishes!  My Iceland travelog will continue tomorrow. I was tied up with packing for Croatia today!


KAS said...

Love your blog, your paintings, and your generosity with sharing your knowledge! I was just telling my 13 year old student today about simultaneous contrast without knowing the official term. He was having trouble making the rocks in his pastel painting that were being directly hit by sunlight stand out. Now I know the official term to use when darkening an area so that another will pop-- simultaneous contrast!

robertsloan2art said...

Wow! Came out beautiful - love the color contrast that strengthens it too. Epic dandelion clocks, never knew about 3 foot tall ones! That rocks!