|6/27/17 Caran d'Ache Pablo colored pencils|
When I focus on form and color as I do with the simple still lives I’ve been making, two things stand out as the most challenging aspects for me. (Frankly, all aspects are challenging, but I think most about the hardest ones so they are on my mind.)
One is differentiating between local color – the actual hues I see in the heirloom tomato on my desk – and the hues that occur where the light and shade hit the surface of the tomato. My eye sees (and my brain knows) that the dark side of the tomato has some yellow in it, but if I use too much of the actual yellow I “see” there, that bright, warm hue will bring that side of the tomato forward instead of making it recede, and it will no longer look like it’s the dark back side of the tomato. It’s easy to get confused by local color, so I must constantly repeat the mantra I’ve heard in every art class I’ve taken: To make the results “read” accurately, getting the values right is more important than getting the hues right.
|6/28/17 Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils|
The second struggle is showing the subtle reflection of ambient light on a smooth surface like the skin of a tomato. Since my desktop is matte black, I always put my produce on a sheet of white paper so that it will cast a shadow I can see. But the downside is that the white paper reflects up onto the subject. (Note to self: Get rid of the paper, fake the cast shadow, and lose the paper reflections!) Highlights can be drawn first and saved, but those diffused paper reflections are easy to lose. (The hidden talent of erasers is very helpful when I do lose them.) Actually, strong highlights aren’t that easy, either, because I have too many light sources. My desk lamp creates the intended highlights, which are easy to save because they’re most prominent. But windows on two sides of the room and the overhead lighting also contribute subtle highlights.
Artistic challenges aside, this particular heirloom tomato was so fantastic in both shape and color that I couldn’t help sketching it twice before it became salad. What an unbelievably crazy form! What gorgeous gradations of color! As much as I love urban sketching, I never see color like that in my ‘hood.