Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sarah Portait

From Making Sense of Color

Hello everyone,
my name is Tony Hsu. Both Quentin and I have been collaborating in the visual arts so we can try to best understand phenomena such as shapes, values and color--amongst other things. Although this blog emphasizes our experiments in color, it is very difficult to isolate the discussion of color for color's sake since value is such a large factor.

In addition, color can changes hinge on the specific medium chosen, producing different optical effects. I had these sorts of issues with this portrait in pastel pencil. Pigment in solid form, in this case pastel pencils, have a higher saturation cost than in oil paint.

In order to yield more saturation, I had to find a way to avoid blending the pigments and then use scale (the distance in which a viewer was to see the portrait) to create the final color effect. In other words, I had to create a more pointillist application of the portrait. The points then viewed as a whole create another color. You can see this on experiments that Quentin has discussed in previous block exercises that employ small color dots.

However, since I didn't want a typical broken impressionistic appearance I had to balance this color effect with value while maintaining the focus more on the drawing. This entailed some serious decision making and knowledge of chroma-value.

It is important to understand that even if I consciously made the decision to set color below value in terms of importance, I then will have to shift my color choices from a more pure observational mentality to more design-oriented one. I am mentally thinking of altering my gamut (which includes both the color range and the choices of my palette colors). So gamut shifts for the sake of my design choices as well as the physical idiosyncrasies of this pigment medium.

This was the case in the eyes, nose, neck shadow, and background. In the nose it would have been difficult to keep the shadow of the nose from being too cold or too grey had I not altered the value in order to get a color range that would harmonize with the colors surrounding it.

As for the neck area, I was thinking the same thing, but I was also thinking of making the shadow feel more airy. One way to do this is to “warm” up the shadows. I, therefore, had to employ both pigment mixing and pointillism in order to achieve this. This decision was made after I felt that pigment mixing by its own virtue would not yield the result I wanted. Luckily Quentin and I had been collaborating on such optical effects earlier with humble blocks and cylinders that became relevant for this portrait. Also, the background was given a color dot treatment. I added dots of certain red-purples to differentiate the temperature difference from the background and the hair.

I hope this shows a little of how our insights with block, spheres, and cylinder studies are relevant to pictures that one wishes to create. If you have not checked out Quentin’s new work, “Remnants”, take a look and see if you can see the subtle temperature shifts in the darks. They are not all black and they shift from cooler darks to warmer ones.

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