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Thursday, March 16, 2017

In Praise of Halftones

Our moon can help us understand the language we use when looking for halftones.
We don't see it in a full moon, but it's there in all its other phases.  It's called the terminator--that area where the earth blocks the sun's rays from the moon, throwing it into shadow. 
In the visual arts world, we use that term to indicate any area turning away from light into shadow.  It's in that illuminated side of all things where we find our halftones.  Call it the light side of the terminator or, as I like to call it, the not-in-shadow field.
When we can differentiate not-in-shadow fields from shadow fields, we can more clearly know how to interpret them.  We use the word "fields" to indicate a general area either being lit or being in shadow.  In the photo below, I've drawn a terminator between those two major fields of the child's head. 
It's in the halftone not-in-shadow fields where we find the most brilliant and definitive colors.  Look at the colors I found in just the child's ear and compare them to those I found in the shadow field back of his head.
One of the joys of being a painter is discovering those hidden jewels that were there all along:  we just didn't know how to look for them. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Finding the Magic of Halftones

In the visual arts world, there is a lot of confusion about halftones.
Halftones are found wherever images are illuminated.  Shadow tones are everywhere else.  We can grasp the concept more easily if we look at what happens to a sphere in direct light.
 It is within these magical areas of light where we find nuances--subtle changes in light values and in color temperature--that can give real depth to our work.  Master painters like John Singer Sargent had a eye for translating these, a skill that enabled him to do this portrait of Mrs. Henry White.
They seem insignificant, but even the tiniest change in value and/or temperature can make a big difference.  And we can learn to see these by closely looking for them. 
Once we find them, we can paint them.  And once we learn to do that, we can find ways to exaggerate and manipulate them in all kind of creative ways.  But seeing comes first.  Once we see it, we never forget it.