With the onset of fall, the dance of warm colors across the palette of the landscape is again having its influences upon many a pastelist. For some painters, the peak of color has passed, for others, it is nearing its high point, and for an unfortunate few situated in locations that lack the appropriate flora, it is of no consequence. Whether you are an artist motivated to capture this seasonal show with pigment on surface or not, there are good lessons to be learned through contemplative observation this time of year.
- Even in the densest array of fall color, there is a counterpoint of complementary color. This is evident in many locations by the blooming of wild asters in shades of violet, as the trees turn yellow. Nature has a way of balancing itself.
- When the sun is out, fall colors in mass appear weaker. This slight graying of color intensity is due to the reflective influence of the blue sky. Depending on the angle of the sun, this can be quite pronounced. By painting these masses with a more earth-toned warm palette and then including a section of intense blue sky, the law of simultaneous contrast will do the rest and produce the appearance of brighter appearing autumn foliage.
- The brightest saturation of fall colors in mass occurs on an overcast day and in a backlit lighting scenario. Without the cast of the blue sky on an overcast day, the intensity of the warm tones will be magnified. On a sunny day when light travels through the translucent foliage from behind, it will light up like a lampshade.
- The final observation is more of a reminder: A painting is not reality; it is a representation, a magic show of sorts. The better we understand what we see, often manipulating, or even compromising reality, the better the illusion.
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