Chiaroscuro (kiːˈɑːrə.ˈskʊroʊ, –ˈskjʊroʊ, Italian for light-dark) in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. Quote from Wikipedia
Chiaroscuro, a word I learnt from my father when I was very little. He was good with words. He introduced me to photography and was the voice of reason in my family. I miss him. Tomorrow would have been his birthday. This picture reminds me of him. Probably because it is a good example of chiaroscuro, which is a very good word. Thanks Dad for everything.
I've just spent a few days in St Ives meeting up with a friend and going to a painting course at the St Ives School of Painting. The course was tutored by Alice Mumford a great artist and as it turned out a great coach too. Full of energy and good advice. This is my painting in stages...
One very blank canvas with a wash of yellow ochre and white spirit. We choose our subject in this case mine was the table by the window.
Now I sketch in the scene as I want it to look with more yellow ochre. This involved a lot of rubbing out to get the right composition. I've added an extra chair.
Now for colour choice. This is tricky, I want to produce warm colours inside the room and cold outside. But how far do I go? I want lots of contrast and I want the feeling of sunshine and warmth. The table cloth starts me off, bright yellow with white stripes, and I decide to opt for tones of hot reds for the walls.
I roughly paint in the world outside the window-it's a very sunny day, almost Mediterranean in the picture. It was raining outside the window of the studio, so a little imagination and vivid memories were used here. I wanted a big contrast too. No window bars, partly because I wanted it to feel ambiguous, maybe a dream or a picture.
I decide on a black floor for really dynamic contrast and scratch floor boards in with a palette knife. I'm still very undecided about the other walls and the ceiling. At this point I decide to add a third chair, its mostly out of the composition to add mystery. A third person in the room.
I must have stopped thinking about photographing my steps here-I guess I was just focussing on the picture. They do that to you....drag you in.
The walls ended up different shades of red. Then a great debate ensued about the colour of the ceiling. I opted for yellow. But Alice wanted me to try black then red. I did this by painting a bit of paper and sticking it on. Neither worked both made the room claustrophobic. I opt for yellow. The debate continues, is it too close to the table cloth? Does it make the viewer uncomfortable? I think the answer to both these questions is yes, so I decide I have made the right decision. Alice's mum, Jan (also an artist) calls me an anarchist. I'm happy with the result. A little scraping of design on the wall, more boards on the ceiling and some shading. Working in the chairs and I'm done. I think. It creates a debate. I like that. Everyone feels differently about it. It's not my usual style but I enjoy the process. I like to experiment. I will get it framed.
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