Mixing colors… It’s not what you think it is.

There are two color spectrums that are important in the arts. One is real light and how it mixes in the real world. The other is reflected light and how it works in the real world. Real lighting is visible in Stage Lighting, Computer Screens, TVs, and just about anywhere that there is a real light source – light bulb, sun, window, etc. The primary colors of real light are red, green, and blue.

The primary colors of reflected light on the other hand are red, yellow, and blue. In the print world, black is also added to that to arrive at a spectrum that is abbreviated CYMK – Cyan (Red), Yellow, Magenta (Blue), and BlaCK – CK is used for Black so that it’s not confused with Blue.

Mixing primary colors in real light results in white where the colors overlap. This is easily demonstrated in stage lighting by simply aiming 3 lights at the same area, where each one has a filter on it that matches the 3 primary colors – red, green, and blue. Where the three colors overlaps on the stage or wall or whever the lights are aimed together, there’s white that shows up in the middle.

Painting and other forms of art where color is placed on an object utilize the reflected light spectrum since the paper, canvas, or whatever else is typically not a light source itself. What is really weird about reflected light is that the science behind it does something completely different from what you think it’s doing. The color we see on an object is really what’s reflecting back at us off of that object when the real light hits the object. In other words the “colors” we see in everything that is not a real light source is really an absence of that particular color in the object itself – all the other colors of the spectrum are “absorbed” by the object, so what we see is really the opposite of the color that the object really is. We see the color that bounced back at us and was not absorbed.

Because of that weird way that things work, mixing primary colors with paint usually results in a muddy brown mid-tone color with low intensity. That’s completely different than what happens when real light’s primary colors are mixed.

That means that most stuff that you see on screen will usually look a lot darker than it did in the computer when you print it, especially since printers add more than the primary colors, and throw black in too.

It also means that when you go to mix colors as a painter, you have to think completely differently than when you mix colors with real light, like when you are thinking about interior design issues in stage lighting, or just picking out lights to put in to your bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or living room.

What gets very interesting is that some sculptures and other forms of art mix and match both light spectrums through backlighting, integrating tv screens in to the artform, adding lights to sculptures, etc. Sculpture is actually a whole different baseball game all together since it can incorporate time and space in to it through relationships of shadows in the real world, locations of the sun at various times of the day and year, etc. Video and painting can do that too on some levels depending on where the painting is placed, what the environment the painting is in, and of course one of the primary elements of video is time – the 4th dimension to 3 Dimensional works so to speak.

With painting, drawing, and other reflected light art forms, there is also a lot going on with how elements of the painting work with one another. Layering colors together is sort of one of the main things painters do. We create depth and dimension to a 2 dimensional plane by placing brush strokes, and other elements next to one another, on top of one another, underneath one another… There’s literally a ton of work that goes in to this sort of stuff sometimes to make a “realistic” artwork. What’s sad though is most viewers of these things that may have taken hundreds of hours to put together typically only view the work for 3-10 seconds at the most unless something in partcular catches their eye or interest in the work.

Big sculptures and video have a little bit of an advantage over painting in that regard – the viewer is forced in to watching looking at those types of things for longer periods of time, leaving more time for the work to create an impression and message. However, painting has a “presence” that exists longer sometimes, in some works. It is a visual thing that can haunt you over time as your brain echos seeing the patterns on the image over and over.

Creating works of art is a bit like wandering through a maze. You have tons of decisions to make, and each one creates subsequent decisions to make. The painting with the most “potnential energy” might well be the blank canvas… just as the work of music that might create the most interest and cause you to think about things is complete silence…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUJagb7hL0E

Art is life. Life is art. Neither are a reflection of one another because both just are. They exist not in parallel to one another, or as a mirror to one another, but coexist, sometimes peacefully, other times in chaos. Out of chaos comes creation many times, and creation usually does eventually lead to some form of chaos.

The entire universe was created with a major big bang explosion of chaos, and from that came the beauty that we call life.

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Inspirations – Anselm Kiefer

Another couple of great and inspiring works that I found at the Modern Museum of Art in Fort Worth, Texas were Anselm Kiefer’s Book with Wings


Book with Wings by Anselm Kiefer

, and Die Aschenblume.
Die Aschenblume by Anselm Kiefer

I have always been a fan of Kiefer’s works. The first work that I ever saw of his is located in the St. Louis Museum of Art, Breaking of the Vessels.

Breaking of the Vessels by Anselm Kiefer

Kiefer’s work is gigantic, and epic, but also sublime and simple. It questions history, and our place in it. It takes Germanic Expressionism to a whole new level. It brings the painting/sculptures to the people, quite literally… It calls to mind the supernatural and makes us think about why it is, what our relationship is with it. It makes us question our reality and opens our minds to thinking about things more. I could write tons about the psychology behind Kiefer’s works, but think many great authors have already done so over and over, so I’ll leave you to explore their ideas on your own time.

Kiefer’s works are something that you need to experience in person. The hugeness of the works, and strange physicality to the works is something that digital photos and art books do absolutely no justice to.

Anselm Kiefer is a master of mixing physical things in to his paint and integrating sculpture in to his painterly works. Frank Stella is the only artist I know of that has works that combine 2d and 3d elements in such strange combinations that they start to come close to the mastery that Kiefer has over this realm. However, Stella’s works are typically pretty happy colors from the pretty happy rainbows that the pop world embraces while Kiefer’s is made of the mud-like dreary colors that are true dramatic tragedies that explore the psychological world a heck of a lot more in-depth than Stella’s simple facades ever can.

I’d love to do artwork the size of Anselm Kiefer’s most popular works, but don’t because the sheer enormity of such works make storage a gigantic problem unless the works are going directly in to museums and galleries. Taking photos of the works is also problematic because of the huge size. A photo just does not do these sort of works any justice since there is so much more to the works than a simple photo can capture.

Fort Worth…

Last weekend, I went to Forth Worth, Texas to visit my Brother, Sister-in-law, and my niece. They live down there, and this was really the first time that I’ve had a chance to visit there or see them for over a year. It’s a great cultural city to visit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Worth,_Texas

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has some outstanding works of art. The entry fee is a bit steep compared to some similar Museums elsewhere (that’s bad because it puts off a lot of would be Museum goers in the general public – such as my sister and parents who I was staying in a hotel room with, lol.), but when we were there, the fee was half off as half of the Museum was closed (Warhol Exhibit was in the process of being put up, so they had a lot of rooms blocked off), so it was not too bad.

Kimbell Art Museum is literally across the street from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially now that they have Michelangelo’s First Painting back on display.

Michealangelo's First Painting - The Torment of St. Anthony

We did not see the Private Collection of Texas there unfortunately (as mentioned above, my parents, and sister don’t like spending too much on entry fees to museums since they don’t always understand art and find walking around in museums to be boring sometimes – Hey, like I said in previous posts, part of the reason I’m uploading scans and photos of my artwork is to protect it from mishandling by those around me, lol. Luckily, if I ever do die, my artwork will likely end up in the hands of my loving spouse, Tekla, who has a much greater appreciation of the arts than some of our other relatives…)

While in Fort Worth, we also had time to see the Amon Carter Museum which is only about 2 blocks from the other two Museums mentioned above. The view of downtown from the Amon is amazing. I might upload a photo of that that I took here if I can find it…. The exhibits on display were amazing. I loved the photo exhibit, and the Remington and Russell exhibit. I think of Remington as one of my favorites art inspirations in the wide world of illustration. His drawing technique, use of forshortning, and vivid and bright color scheme are some of the many things that I try to emulate in my own paintings and illustrations when I can. That sort of bringing the world of the painting to life in color and form is something I find very inspiring, even if some of his themes and subject matter eventually turned fairly cliche.

While in town, we also wandered around the stockyards a while. There was a major livestock show going on at the time, along with a carnival and there were horses all over the streets down there. I didn’t know this sort of thing happened regularly in the middle of January. I guess the 60 degree weather justifies it. It was sickening to come back to Missouri’s 30 degree weather and massive amount of fog…