April 1, 2015

A New Painting: "Red Crossing"

Red Crossing, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 9 1/2 x 7 7/8 in.

The image is basically very simple: a red rectangle and  a long red stepped shape overlap a black rectangle. Some complexity is added with the shadows: angled bars at top, curves on the black. The large curved shadow reminds me of a proscenium arch, the red line below it becoming a presence on a stage. (Sometimes strange metaphors creep in to paintings.)

Red Crossing detail

This detail shows the translucency of the shadows. One thing I learned in art school, that has proved true in my years of painting from the motif, is that shadows are translucent, light is opaque. Translucency brings light into the darks.


  1. Happy Passover, Altoon! I like this painting a lot -- very strong. I think I get the translucent shadows. Shadows aren't absolute; wherever any light comes from, it will illuminate the shadowed surface -- is that it? I'd like to hear more about the opaque light. Can you elaborate? How, exactly, do you apply that in this painting, for instance? (Or do you just paint and in doing so demonstrate it?) When you get home.

    1. Thanks, Susan.
      The way I see it is that shadows are a layering of a dark over a color; we can always see through that dark to the color and detail in the shadow. Light that comes bouncing from elsewhere would be more of a reflected light, not a shadow. So in this painting, the shadow on the red is red; I hope that it looks like we can see through the shadow to the surface it covers.

  2. Yes. That makes sense. Thank you!