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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Doggone brilliant

Portrait of a Jack Russell, by Joaquín Sorolla (1909)
A reader sent me this Portrait of a Jack Russell, by Joaquín Sorolla (1909). She knows I have an ancient Jack Russell and love Sorolla’s treatment of white and black.

Some of the tones Sorolla used to make white fabric and dog in the painting above.
This painting has no white in it whatsoever and most of the black is modeled with browns and plums, but we understand the dog to be white and black, seated on an off-white drapery, with light coming from the left.

The human mind interprets these colors to be black and white because, in fact, when we look at a black and white object in light, we see neither true black nor true white. Every object’s local color is tempered by the color of the light reflecting off it.

Some of the tones Sorolla used to make the black fur in the painting above.
Remember that color is composed of three characteristics:

Hue: the position on the color wheel, like red, blue and yellow;
Chroma (Saturation): how strong or weak the color is;
Value: how light or dark the color is.

The painting in gray-scale loses depth, because it is modeled with hue as well as value.
In gray-scale, the lighting on Sorolla’s dog is far less striking. That is because Sorolla uses the color of light to define shapes.  His light is warm and his shadows are cool.

I used Photoshop to make a rough hue map of the painting. It is clear that hue is driving this painting at least as much as value is.

Hue map of Sorolla's painting, above. Clearly the light is coming from the left.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.


Sue said...

Great post Carol! You have done a great job showing the concepts with digital tools. Might steal this to show my design class!!!

Carol Douglas said...

You are absolutely welcome to do so.