Color temperature!

While my paintings are mostly value based they also depend a great deal on color temperature. Color change does not necessarily mean value change, although a lot of times it is the case. So color change can therefore mean a change in value (intensity) or a change in temperature, or both!
This is important stuff because temperature affects our perception of form just as much as light. The change of value and temperature of a three dimensional object depends on how low or how intense the light source is. In low light conditions, the temperature changes are more obvious since there is no significant change in value!
Just take a look at some impressionists like Van Gogh or Cezanne who often painted work that is completely devoid of light and purely based on change of color temperature!

Great painting very much depends on subtle color (temperature) changes. It is at least as important as understanding your values.
When I first started painting this whole point was completely lost on me. Many artists are not aware of this, instead assuming that transitions in three dimensional objects are achieved with value change only! Often we see work that is completely based on overly dramatic, highly graphic and intense value changes and not much else!

Studying the old masters like JSS or Zorn will quickly show how the success of their work not only depends on values but ever so subtle transitions in color temperature. A humbling lesson on how to achieve lively, beautiful and timeless art!

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4 thoughts on “Color temperature!

  1. lesliepaints

    A very difficult thing to learn, as you say. It takes time for each artist to become accustomed to their colors on their palettes before they begin to see that even reds have cool reds and blues have warm blues, etc. Some things can be suggested and, as we gain experience, we will remember what we have been taught. Thank you. Good post!

    1. frankeber Post author

      More difficult than values, they are much easier to see. I could say more but it really goes beyond words and can only properly explained with pictures/ examples

  2. David J. Teter

    … and then there is the value of a good beer at just the right temperature. Cool beer, warm friends. Nice seeing you again Frank!

    Yes on color temp, it is a difficult thing to teach as well.Once understood it is a great way to turn form without resorting to value. The Fauves understood, and Frederic Remington comes to mind.
    Keep painting…

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