Whilst painting dj kirkbys erotic landscape I’ve been thinking about the use of light and dark in a painting. For me, a painting is far more interesting if it has deep darks and bright lights. But sometimes that can detract from the subject matter, and the painting just becomes a study in sunshine and shadows, and whilst that is exciting, it probably wasn’t the best way of painting this particular erotic landscape. So, I needed to work out where the light source is coming from (the sun in this instance) and brighten the parts where the weak sunshine is hiding the geography of the landscape, and darken the weak shadows to create the form of the land. The sky has scudding clouds in it which makes it look more interesting than a flat blueness, and that in itself shows why the sunshine is weak in the painting. So, on to the choice of tonal value, and by definition the bulk of it has to be mid-tones, with just a few bright lights and deep darks to add interest. And that got me on to thinking about the best way to show bright lights in the painting. Because you can’t get brighter than the white of the canvas (although I was covering it in paint) so then, you can’t get brighter than the white paint you have, but what you can do, to make the light seem lighter than it is, is to darken the colour around it, and by definition the white will seem brighter, will shine and glow more.
And this got me to thinking, along with another conversation with my spiritual healer friend, that life is mostly mid tones, alot of it can be grey and dull coloured, but occasionally we get bursts of colour in our greyness, some bright bold, vibrant and exciting colour that makes us feel good, and whatever those bursts of vibrant colour are depends on the type of person we are, and the way we measure excitement, it could be the joy of seeing a good friend, a special day out, a long awaited holiday, or just a favourite film on the telly. And amongst the mid-tones we also get bursts of bright white light that fills our existence and brings great joy and deep personal fulfilment. But to experience it, we have to have the darks. We might not like the darks. We may not want the darks. We may fear the darks. But… they have to exist. They must. Because without them, the vibrant colours won’t be vibrant. And the bright whites can’t exist.
So, to follow on with my thoughts on the erotic landscape, have I put enough bright lights in it? Should I put some more in it? And are the darks dark enough? And, as it’s mostly a green landscape, should I put a dash of bright red in it? Because red is the exact opposite of green on the colour-wheel, (as green is made of the other primary colours, blue and yellow) and that dash of red will add a huge piquancy to the picture, it will make the overall picture far more vibrant. And that’s what we’re searching for in life, isn’t it?