Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Break-light Method

"Color helps to express light, not the physical phenomenon, but the only light that really exists, that in the artist's brain." Henri Matisse

This quote by one of my favorite impressionist painter’s sums up the impressionists view on color. Color was not a tool that was dictated by the subject being painted, (as in realism,) color was a tool that was used to express the emotions created through the reality that the painter looked upon. As another impressionist, Van Gogh put it:

"Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I see before me, I make more arbitrary use of color to express myself more forcefully ... To express the love of two lovers by the marriage of two complementary colors ... To express the thought of a brow by the radiance of a light tone against a dark background, to express hope by some star, someone's passion by the radiance of the setting sun." Van Gogh

Nature gives us a glorious view on color yet we should take a step further and go back to the color wheel and see what colors depict the “emotion” of the realistic object in front of us as well as the reality of it. This is impressionism. Not only do we depict reality, but we depict it in all of the senses as well.

The impressionists that loved to depict the reality of a subject to the hard core, tended to use the break-light method to depict their subject in their painting. The break-light method or the broken color method refers to a technique that is still used by some impressionist artists today. The technique focuses on the actual sensation of light and creating that emotion in your actual painting.

The idea goes like this: You are trying to paint an index card that is a light green color. You can see it from across the room easily enough. Yup, that is green alright. Now you take an index card that is half cerulean blue, and half cadmium yellow light. You put a hole in the middle of the cards and spin them like crazy together. When this is done, from across the room you see a similar green but this time the green has more energy.

In the painter’s world, it will either mix the three colors or bring out the complimentary color (red), of the original color, (green,) even though that color completely does not exist in the permanent color. That is what broken color is supposed to achieve – the actual sensation of light itself through the use of mixed and complimentary colors.

The most important thing to remember when painting using broken color is that you are trying to make the painting itself become “alive” so that it has the life of the subject that you are painting and that it stands out from other paintings.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


"At a distance the oak seems to be of ordinary size. But if I place myself under its branches, the impression changes completely: I see it as big, and even terrifying in its bigness." - Eugene Delacroix
This quote by a fellow artist sums up the idea that perspective matters. The oak can either look small and insignificant or it can astonish you with it's height and width.

In your painting you will want to note this fact before you begin to paint. Color speaks, but not as loudly without perspective.

When you place your composition you probably place it into one of these four main categories already:

1) Linear perspective
2) Size and Vertical Location
3) Detail (Aerial or Atmospheric Perspective,) or,
4) Overlapping

I am teaching these perspectives to you so that you will better understand how each of these perspectives are different and how to decide which of these perspectives will go best with the desired mood or the characteristics that you wish to convey to your audience. The first perspective that we will be going over is linear perspective.


1) Linear Perspective

Linear perspective is based on the idea that all lines will converge on a common point on the horizon called the vanishing point. You have observed linear perspective when you notice that the lines on the highway appear to meet at a point in the distance. Artists use linear perspective to create a focal point for a picture. Any walls, ceilings, floors or other objects with lines will appear to come together at the horizon line. These lines converging lead our eyes towards that point. Often, the most important object or person in the picture will be located at that point. Linear perspective is a very focusing perspective and will use lines to create the focus.

2.) Size and Vertical Location

Since objects in our environment look smaller when they are farther away, the easiest way to show depth is to vary the size of objects with closer objects being larger and more distant objects being smaller. We also perceive objects that are higher on the page and smaller as being further away than objects which are in the forefront of a picture. This perspective is often used for landscapes because of it's simplicity and realistic view of nature.

Detail (Aerial or Atmospheric Perspective.)

The atmospheric perspective uses color and value contrasts to show depth. Objects which are further away generally have less distinct contrast - they may fade into the background or become indistinct dark areas. However, while the background values are indistinct, the foreground objects will be clear with sharper contrast. This perspective is used most often by impressionists. Though realists artists will use it at times, the impressionists will use this perspective to it's highest value. They will contrast their subject, and dim the rest of the painting softly into a very non-focused background.

4.) Overlapping

When objects are partially obscured by other objects in front of them, we perceive them as further back then the covering objects. We do not see them as incomplete forms, just further back. Most artists will use this method when they are painting a pantry or mountains. It is a perspective method on detailing distance.

I hope that this lesson has taught you some of the basics on perspective. If you wish to view more information on this subject you can find more here:

The Linear Perspective

A Painting Book (See chapter 16 for the perspectives)

Detail (Aerial or Atmospheric Perspective)

The Overlapping Perspective

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lesson 2 (Pt. 2): The Color Wheel

"In art, there is a feeling of harmony which underlies all endeavor. There is no true greatness in art without that sense of harmony." -Albert Einstein

This statement by Albert Einstein represents the objective of true art: to help create the atmosphere of order and harmony. As we covered in the last lesson, art today is full of despair, confusion, and ultimately, disorder, (anything goes.)

The color wheel creates a solution to this problem. To know your color wheel and to follow its suggestions, is to know order. God was the master of creating order. When you study the color wheel and the different color schemes, you will begin to wonder at the order and beauty of nature around you. God really knew what He was doing when He created the world.

The first color scheme, (and one of the most common in the realist world,) is the analogous color scheme. This color scheme is the scheme that portrays three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. These three colors can change depending on the color wheel used. Some color wheels represent that these three colors are red, yellow and green. Others suggest, yellow, yellow-green, and green. The later is more common though not as vibrant in color. This color scheme is known as the most harmonious of all.

The second color scheme is the complimentary color scheme, (which is one of my favorites.) It is the color scheme that has the colors that sit on the opposite sides of the color wheel. This is one of the most vibrant color schemes out of all of the color schemes available on the color wheel and it can become too vibrant if you're not careful. It usually consists of the colors of red and green or purple and green. (etc.) I like to think of it as the "Christmas color scheme."

Another one of my favorite color schemes is the triadic color scheme. It uses three colors equally spaced around on the color wheel. This scheme is popular among artists because it offers strong visual contrast while retaining balance, and color richness. The triadic scheme is not as contrasting as the complementary scheme, but artists like it because it generally looks more balanced and harmonious.

Whatever color scheme you use, know what the pros and cons are. Learn what you want to communicate to your audience, and always create your own style with purpose. I pray that God richly blesses you as you experiment with colors! =)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My new painting! =)

One of the birds that I absolutely love is the ruby throated hummingird. We have several (probably around 20) that are flying around right now, so I thought that I would paint one in impressionist style and here are my results:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lesson 2 (Pt. 1): The Color Wheel

"I would rather deserve honors and not have them, than to have them and not deserve them." - Mark Twain

This quote by Mark Twain is what I have made as one of my lifetime mottos. It depicts an attitude of desiring excellence rather than fame. Although it is always nice to put that extra metal on your wall, that extra trophy, it should not be a Christian’s goal in life. “For is it man's favour or God's that I aspire to? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still a man-pleaser, I should not be Christ's bondservant.” (Gal. 1:10)

A Christian should always and only seek to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and sometimes, (unfortunately), that means not being the popular one in the group.

In today’s society art is an abstract field of painting that makes no sense, has no purpose and is completely random, having experimented in leaving the basics far behind at the starting field. This is a sad reality. Our world is a world of chaos with confusion and despair on every side of us. Teens and adults are committing suicide at a record high, (around 60,000 a year in America alone) my cousin and best friend for years, (an artist) unfortunately was included in these statistics. . .

Instead of joining these abstract artists, Christians need to take a stand for excellence and order in this world. Our artwork should not mirror despair, chaos and hopelessness for we have the hope of God in us. Our artwork should be orderly with harmonic color schemes that mirror the perfect creation that God made for us to enjoy.

This is why the Color wheel is important. It helps us to keep colors and the principles of art in the right perspective. Without following the basic principles of the color wheel an artist can become flimsy with color and have no purpose for their painting.


The color wheel which is based on the colors of red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. It is the basics of the art world and a must for the Christian artist to know and to know well. If the artist does not know his or her color wheel they can be in danger of not balancing out their color hues correctly or arranging the wrong colors.


The first three colors on the color wheel that you will need to know are the basics of all of the colors that you will find on the color wheel. These colors are the primary colors and they consist of red, blue, and yellow. All of the other colors are derived from these 3 hues.


Secondary colors are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors. They are green, orange and purple.


Tertiary colors are the colors that realist artists usually use the most. They are the colors formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color. That's why the hue is a two word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.

Although I’d like to talk more about the color wheel this post is getting way too long. =P So I will save the next part of the color wheel for later. =)

God Bless y’all! =)


Lesson 1: Art And The Impact It Has On The World Around Us

"All the books of theology ever written had less impact on the fate of mankind than the great religious paintings."

After thinking about this quote from a famous philosopher, I began to realize how important what we draw or paint is. When you draw or paint something, you are communicating in a very real sense a certain amount of emotion and vitality with how and what you paint or draw.

An artist can convey harmony, distraction, unorderliness, beauty, love, and many other emotional themes with the colors and tools that they use to paint and draw.

In fact, during the Renaissance our world may have had it's most dramatic changing period in history. The revival of learning and culture in that time frame though was mainly due from the major rejuvenation through the arts, (literature, music, and painting.) Some of our most brilliant artists were from that day and age. (Da Vinci, Michaelangelo.)

Although these painters were perfectionists and their paintings in a sense "refined" and brilliantly created, the themes that they used were sadly very non-Christian.

If you wish to study these painters I would encourage you to look more for the landscapes or studies that they did instead of their "most famous works." Their most famous works could be very well defined and expressed as profanity towards our Heavenly maker.

On the other hand, you can learn a lot from studying these painters and their techniques and I would encourage you to do so if you have the self-discipline enough to be able to throw out the bath water and leave the baby.

This past Spring I made it my goal to learn all of the several color themes that I could when it came to painting or drawing. I found that there are many ways that you can express yourself when you paint and draw. I encourage you to take out the time to learn your color wheel as what you want to communicate to the world around you can become that much easier when you study the basics.

From the 3 primary colors and the colors black and white you can literally create hundreds of brilliant and beautiful colors. This week try mixing the primaries together and see what cool combinations you can receive through practice.

I know that one of my favorite colors to use in my paintings is an amber orange. It's bright and happy and it shines the light of Christ in the midst of our very dark world.

Colors make people happy. What's your favorite color?