Monday, December 26, 2011

Julie Paints Bonnie

Here I should be honest and say I don't really love this 24 x 24" oil on canvas of Bonnie, our substitute model. I like the composition, but not the color harmony. The palette was a split primary: ultramarine and pthalo blue, cadmium and alizarin red, and cadmium and lemon yellow with titanium white. But the harmony is olive green, cerulean, orange, and a warm and cold white. A yucky "harmony."

In the field of literacy, the theory of automaticity explains the inverse relationship between reading comprehension and text complexity. Basically, your brain's juice is so tied up interpreting the longer sentences and complex vocabulary in a difficult text, that you have little energy left to interpret what you are reading. I believe that something similar happens when you switch mediums or try out a new one. In this case my brain may have been so tied up with the difficulty of thinking in oil after a long period of using acrylic that I had no juice left to spend on other issues.

A look at previous winter Firehouse paintings made me realize the actual problem: all of the values are too high. The room was actually darker, but in this painting the brightness level approaches that of an emergency room. With the lower values, the saturation would have come down a tad, but more importantly, the color harmony would have clicked. Orange would have become burnt sienna, cerulean would have become a blue-gray, olive would have turned into a nondescript dark green and so on. You get the picture.


  1. I like the compostion also. I like the brushtrokes and simple shapes that support the compostion well. Particulary like Bonnie against the light wall. My only problem is that I feel her face is not painted with the same strength as the rest of the work but you could revise that a little.

  2. I actually like this painting, because of the unexpected things, like color that isn't quite harmonious. The oranges and blues, the strong simple shapes of her leg and hat keep me engaged.

  3. Thanks for your comments Betsy and Karen, they really help me to see things from a different perspective.