glow in the dark

miura_philosophers_copy_9873

A quick gouache copy of Terry Miura’s oil painting The Philosophers.

I’m always struck by how the illusion of glowing, light-filled areas can be produced by surrounding those areas with dark. The strong sunlight transmitted through the red canopies can only appear that bright if the whole scene is painted in a low key. Ignoring the white highlights, the lightest values in the painting are the red canopies and the foreground in the sunlight, but they’re not that bright at all when you examine the paint used: a dull pink/brown for the foreground and a not very saturated lightish red for the umbrellas.

The gouache I mixed up for the background lightened dramatically as it dried, taking away from the illusion. This is perhaps partly due to the matt finish of gouache, but it’s something I need to keep in mind when mixing paints. And somehow I’ve managed to chop the philosophers’ legs off and put them on baby chairs – perhaps that’s what they’re discussing.

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