Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tone & Colour

Project 4 - Tone & Colour

The following introduction to colour theory has been written by Ben Joel PGradDipA&D(WAIT), Senior Lecturer of Painting at Curtin University of Technology.
Ben Joel’s website presents an excellent overview of colour theory.
You can find it here: Colour Theory for Assignments
The fact that the eye sees tone, a gradation of surface value from white (the lightest) to black (the darkest) is a manifestation of either the presence or absence of light. A white surface under brightest light has the highest tonal value. A black surface in deep shadow at night has the lowest tonal value. In between pure white and pure black the eye is capable of detecting thousands of gradations of grey. It is this range of tonal values from light to dark that allows us to perceive three-dimensional shapes (as well as the phenomenon of parallax).
Place a round object such as a ball or an apple in strong directional light - say from a window or a lamp. Observe the play of light on one side, and the range of darks on the other. Notice that as the eye travels from the brightly lit side to the dark side, the tonal value grades from light to dark seamlessly. Now look at the shadow cast by the object on the surface on which it is sitting. There is a more definite edge here where the dark of the shadow meets the surface that is lit. Observe even more carefully and you will see that this edge is sharpest closest to the apple. The shadow’s edge that is furthest from the apple is blurred and you will find here a more subtle gradation of tonal values.
Vermeer, Rembrandt and Zurbaran were masters of creating drama and atmosphere through tone. You should also look at Caravaggio, Georges De La Tour and Goya. Goya painted very black pictures toward the end of his life. He used black as a metaphor for the evil inherent in human beings and to express his own hopelessness at the human condition.
The Italian painter Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) on the other hand generally used a narrow tonal range that produced a metaphysical atmosphere in his work. Lucien Freud also generally uses a narrow tonal range; this steady light along with the way he poses his models evokes the sterility of a clinical gaze.
Honore Daumier very often conflates shapes in his paintings to great expressive use - shapes that in reality are separated, seem joined in his work by a similarity of tone. He often uses the device of “lost edge” as does Rembrandt and Velasquez (see exercise 6 for an explanation of “lost edge”).
Model Pictures (23 feb - 15 May)
University of Melbourne, Ian Potter Gallery
Always some great examples of painting - in particular head to the top floor and check out the international contemporary collection. A room full of paintings that often includes an Eva Hesse, de Kooning and many other paintings relevant to the exercises you are currently completing
Gallery of Modern Art ( - 26 April)
Art in the 21st Century: The first decade
This show has an incredible line up of artists, particularly relevant to this unit being Katharina Grosse, Francis Alys, Angela de la Cruz
Roslyn Oxley9 (7 - 30 April)
David Griggs
Turner Galleries (1 - 30 April)
Gemma Smith
Fremantle Arts Centre
Patrick Doherty: Year of the Dragon


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