Monday, August 4, 2008

Black Pots (8"x8")

Stone staircases like these are the norm for old homes in Manitou Springs. I've got a thing for steps and stairs and the bright light and deep shadows on these fascinated me.
I've been thinking about chiaroscuro, the Italian word denoting the contrast between dark and light. Can anyone think of a word in English that means exactly that? No? Interesting concept isn't it? The Italians have been talking about chiaroscuro for ages. Mainly as it relates to art of course. For you Scrabble hounds, chiaroscuro is in my spell checker as a valid "English" word.
Try to imagine these stairs in flat light - no strong shadows, no strong lights... just straight pink rock. If we were to attempt to ascend that shadowless staircase we would have a hard time figuring out where to put our feet. Our eyes are geared to see light and dark and our brain interprets the information so that we can operate our feet, and climb the stairs to the top. Chiaroscuro is vital information for us.
Now, apply chiaroscuro to life. Would we appreciate or even notice a sunny day if we'd never experienced a rainy one? Would we appreciate a beautiful face without the highlights and shadows? Without contrast, our lives are boring, dull, lifeless. This can be applied in all areas of life - physical, emotional, spiritual. The next time I'm having a dull or dark day, I'm going to be thankful that I've got the ability to recognize one from the other. There's really nothing worse than being stuck in the middle... having a "gray day" or pondering a "gray area" of law/politics, morals. I can be thankful for the dark in the past because it contrasts with the light and helps me see. It makes the path clear. Cheers!
The How-to paragraph - The last putzing hour on this painting involved glazing the stair risers darker and warmer or darker and cooler depending on their location. Then I separated the rock wall that the pots sit on from the wall behind. To do this I lightened the staircase wall by scrubbing it with a sponge, then I cooled and darkened the wall of the house (behind the plants) by glazing it with dulled blue to push it back. A bit of dry brushing over the rocks gave them a rough look, a bit of lifting around the pots sharpened them. Then I added a bit of color for the flowers and it's done.
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Joanne said...

Cheryl , this is stunning ! You did an amazing job and do you know what ? You ARE improving day by day , just as you had hoped .

Linda Warner Constantino said...

Lovely Watercolors Cheryl!
You have a nice feel for hard and soft edges and light on form.