New Daffodils, and Contrasts
August 29, 2012
This painting was hanging around for a good part of the spring and summer unfinished. It actually was hiding from me at home because I had it in my supplies basket that I take with me to my watercolor workshops. I had used it, mid-stream, as an example to my students about contrast.
Imagine it with no background. A field of yellow color on a white background just isn’t very contrast-y. So it’s a delicate balance bringing the yellow up enough to work on that white background. For comparison, look at my blog post from April 30, 2009. However, a composition that is built up over the whole piece of paper, instead of focusing on one part of an image, comes together more readily, more often than not. Usually when one of my students brings a painting to me with the problem that a certain area isn’t working, it’s because they are fussing with that area, and the rest of the pice of paper has, for all intents and purposes, been left alone. When they start to focus on the rest of the painting, the problem either resolves, or changes.
So this painting is not only of daffodils, its about the yellow subject on the magenta patterned background. They are two colors that I’ve enjoyed contrasting to one another in the past few years. Its also fun to use a warm and cool version of a color to bring some contrast between them.
A red background is fun to do, and not often done in a still life. There was this story about a painting Matisse did for a Russian client, that I read about somewhere. The painting was one of his depictions of a room, with a woman sitting in a chair, and the background was a wonderful blue patterned oriental rug. The client took it home with him to Russia, very pleased with his purchase. Then awhile later he got a message from Matisse who said there was something about the painting that bothered him, that he wanted to change, just something to make it work better, that would more complete it. The client sent the painting back, Matisse did the work on it he wanted, and returned it to the client. And when the client opened up the packing crate, Matisse had changed the rug color, and so the whole background color, from blue to red. Sometimes its the little things.