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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Llano Road

"Llano Road" oil on canvas, 5x7 in., SOLD

This is painting number 5 of my painting a day project. I set up to paint this enormous Valley Oak at the corner of Llano and Todd Road near Sebastopol. There are a couple of dairies in the area that I'd like to return and paint as well, but that's for another day.

One of the things I'm finding about doing this little paintings is that I'm much more aware of the importance of controling my values (relative lightness and darkness) on such a small canvas. I've been thinking about this, why it seems so much more important on a small painting. I think it's partly because every mark on a small painting has to be right for the whole painting to work well. But it may also have to do with the way our visual system processes information. (I've got a couple other blog entries on this general topic - inspired by reading the book, "Vision and Art: the Biology of Seeing", by Margaret Livingstone.) Specificly, there is a certain amount of processing that happens in the cells of the retina itself, and one of the things they do is compare the relative brightness within very small areas in our visual field. The result is we're much more sensitive to changes in value in areas that are right next to each other. I have no idea if this is really making a difference in these paintings, but I know for myself that I have more difficulty comparing values that are far apart in a painting, and I know that this is one the tricks painters can use to make it apear that a painting has a greater range of values than is actually present by emphasizing local contrasts.


At 7:47 PM, Blogger Parapluie said...

Interesting painting to examine the range of values. With the contrasting sky the relative lights in the dark tree seem more dark than the same color painted in the background next to medium values.
I remember my childhood pictures of me when I was an infant looking up into the California oak trees. I like the lighting effects. There is some mystery captured in your painting today.
I am always happier with paintings that I just do all at once. I hope in the next week to do one a day.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Parapluie said...

Could it be that the importance of value relationships increases as the relative size of the brush enlarges in ratio to the size of the painting surface? Could it be that the importance of the value relationships increase at short range because of the difference in our two eyes and how the brain combines 2 images into one? Very interesting observation on your part.


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