Colour in painting

How important is colour?

The purpose of this post is to provide a link to the first chapter of my book “Painting with Light and Colour“. In it is a set of dogmas that changed my life. They were given me, during the first weeks of my life as an artist, by the Polish artist, teacher and mathematician, Professor Marian Bohusz-Szyszko. He claimed that:

  • “All good painting is based on colour”.
  • “The use of colour in painting should be based on colour in nature”.

The importance to me personally of these two dogmatic propositions and, more importantly, the elaborations and explanations he added, can hardly be exaggerated, for they provided a basis for my life’s work, not only as an artist and teacher but also as a scientist.

One reason why the dogmas of Marian Bohusz-Szyszko were to prove to be so fruitful, related to their origins, for they were his way of providing a synthesis of ideas coming from a number of his predecessors.  Particularly important among these were Seurat, Cézanne and Bonnard (one of Bohusz-Szyszko’s mentors). A major reason for taking the dogmas seriously is the the degree to which these artists and their Modernist Painter contemporaries were  influenced by the revolution in the science of visual perception that took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

 

Figure 1 : Raising of Lazarus by Marian Bohusz-Szyszko

 

This watershed for scientists and artists alike followed upon the realisation that the colour we see is not a property of surfaces in the external world but a creation of the eye and brain, based on inputs from the amazingly complex patterns of the colourless electromagnetic energy that enters the eyes. From this starting point came understandings about:

  • Induced colour
  • The three primaries.
  • Optical mixing

It was these that inspired Seurat to develop his pointillist methods as a means of fulfilling his ambition to “paint with light”.

Little can he have known that he was also bringing about a transformation in the meaning of the word “colourist”. From the time of the so called Venetian Colourists to the time of Seurat, the meaning of the word “colourist” centred on whole-field lightness relations (popularly referred to as “chiaroscuro”). As we shall see in later Posts, from now on, being a “colourist” meant:

  • Having access to a greater range of both more fully-saturated and more nuanced colours.
  • Being a master of  whole-field colour relations.

All these issues will be elaborated upon in subsequent Posts. For the time being, as promised above, I want to share with you the first chapter of my book “Painting with Light and Colour”. It contains an account of:

  • how it came to pass that I encountered Marian-Bohusz Szyszko, the Professor of Painting at the Academic Community of the Wilno* University in London.
  • All five of his dogmas, and the ways in which they proved helpful.

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“Painting with Light and Colour”: Chapter 1-“The Dogmas

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Click here for lists of other Posts

*The Polish name for the formerly Polish town that, due to border changes that took place as a result of the Second World War, has now become Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania.

The threat posed by Hitler and Stalin was the reason for the fleeing of large numbers of academics from the historic University of Wilno, then in Poland, and their regrouping in London as the Academic Community of the Wilno University in London.

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MY VOLUMES ON ART PRACTICES

CONTENTS LISTS

Below are the contents lists for four interrelated volumes:

1. Drawing (book 1 & book 2)

2. Painting (book 1 & book 2)

3. Creativity   

4. Related Science

A main difference between these volumes and others on the same subjects is that they are strongly influenced by the wide ranging and innovative research undertaken by the author into how artists use their eyes when drawing and painting. spacer

OTHER MATERIAL

At the bottom of the page, in addition to the chapters from the four Volumes, there are extracts from the ‘Glossary’ (more to be published in the coming months) and a section on “Miscellaneous Subjects” (so far: “A history of Castelnau de Montmiral“, “The University of Stirling Vision Group” and “The Generosity of Genes“).

(Please scroll down to the chapter that interest you, then click to find a link to it, accompanied by introductory material and images)

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INTRODUCTORY

VOLUME ONE : “DRAWING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BRAIN”

BOOK 1 : “DRAWING WITH FEELING”

The chapters so far loaded:

BOOK 2 : “DRAWING WITH : “DRAWING WITH KNOWLEDGE”

The chapters so far loaded:

OTHER POSTS ON DRAWING:

VOLUME TWO: “PAINTING WITH LIGHT AND COLOUR”

BOOK  : “PAINTING  WITH LIGHT”

Chapters so far loaded

 BOOK 2 : “PAINTING WITH COLOUR”

The chapters so far loaded:

ADDITIONAL POSTS ON LIGHT AND COLOUR IN PAINTINGS

VOLUME THREE :  “FRESH PERSPECTIVES ON CREATIVITY”

          The chapters so far loaded:

VOLUME FOUR : “WHAT SCIENTISTS CAN LEARN FROM ARTISTS”

The chapters so far loaded, all of which deal with subjects that feature in the other three volumes

EXTRACTS FROM THE “GLOSSARY”

MISCELLANEOUS

PAINTING SCHOOL NEWS

Request for comments on the chapters from the books.

I look forward to your comments in the section provided at the bottom of each Post. When you have made them, please leave your email address and tick the box “Notify me of new posts by email.”

Enjoy

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