May 8, 2014

A New Painting: "Yellow Rectangle, Green Cylinder"

Yellow Rectangle, Green Cylinder, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. 

While working on this painting I had to constantly keep in mind the relationship between the two named elements: the yellow rectangle at the upper left and the vertical cylinder catching light. I thought I'd finished the painting three times, and twice I went back and reworked the colors of those two features (never mind painting and wiping off and repainting the large area of shadowed green: too dark, too light, too warm, etc). The tricky part of the two main characters was their balance: I wanted the cylinder to be a forceful presence but at first the yellow was too intense and the green not intense enough, leading to the painting being dominated by the yellow shape. So I darkened the yellow and made it a less intense color and intensified the green, which I thought looked great. But a day later I realized that the dull yellow was too dull; it had lost all vibrancy and life. I went in again with a more intense yellow. Because egg tempera is translucent, the color layers affect each other: that layer of intense yellow over the darker, more tertiary yellow brought to it enough brilliance, but not too much, to create a better balance with the cool intense green. 

This is just to say that paintings that appear quite simple (to me too) are often quite a challenge. And it was almost as much work to get a decent photo on this blog; I uploaded many variations before settling on this as close enough but not quite. Ah well.....

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