Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jacobs Point-March

Late winter is the most black-and-white time in the marsh. Pretty much everything you see is shriveled, bleached, blackened and broken, and most of the snow is gone so it's harder to see the sky color in shadows. In any event, the sky around here is usually gray, so it doesn't add a lot of vivid color, either.

As such, you really get to see the mix of land and water and what the constant erosion and rebuilding does. That's why this painting is so linear--I just liked the way the "S" curve of the channel got foreshortened into a sort of arrowhead swoop. I was particularly happy with the way I got the distant strip a barely-remaining snow: one stroke of a painting knife. Sometimes it just works. Most of the time it doesn't and you have to do it over and over until it's right, but when it just works you have to just be grateful and leave it the heck alone.

I thought for sure I had a larger image of this one, but it looks like I'll have to make one. I'll post it as an amendment later on. One of the tougher things about working big is that I have to concern myself more with issues of lighting and documenting the work. It's relatively simple to light a small painting well--even a desk-lamp will do. You can also document a piece by just slapping it on your scanner (when dry, of course). With larger pictures, though, there's significant fall-off if the only light is from above, as by ceiling fixtures and so forth. This means that the lower portions of the picture may be in less illumination than the upper portions, leading you to mistakenly paint them lighter to "go" with the upper bits. This goes both for painting and for photographing the work. This is why artists have for years loved working under the fabled "north light".

True north light can only be obtained by having skylights that face the unobstructed north of the sky, with no admixture of the other directions and no objects like trees or buildings in the field of view to reflect back their colors. This way the light is even throughout the day (you never get beams of light directly from the sun), and slightly cool from the sky or cloud reflection and transmission. Since daylight is so much brighter than most lamps (a fact hidden from us by the adaptability of our eyes) it also experiences much less falloff over distance than artificial light and hence illuminates even large work relatively evenly, depending on the size of the window letting it in.

My studio has south-facing windows, so I've had to make a few adjustments both to the windows and the lighting to get things to a comfortable level for me. You can see these adaptations in my "About Me" picture, but (teaser) I'll go into them in detail on my next post.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nick,
    I see your blog and your beautiful paintings..I'm a painter too..
    I'd like to exchange of views about our work and Levitan's exhibition
    in Moscow.
    Thanks for your attention,
    Laura Zuccheri