Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Work/Josef Albers

acrylic on wc paper image size 11" x 14"

The above piece was completed yesterday. Check out that texture!

I am still reading through my Josef Albers book, The Interaction of Color, and I wanted to try out one of the ideas. Let me say first though that the book, while extremely helpful, is not a manual for how to paint using principles of color interaction. Various scenarios involving color interaction are presented along with solutions to those problems. Colored paper is used to illustrate the examples but the examples themselves, while interesting, are not traditional landscape paintings.  So, while I have learned a few things I really haven't any idea yet of how I might apply them in my work.

One of the things that Albers discusses is how one color that is one value and one hue can look differently when placed against two different valued and different hued grounds. Clear as mud? Here is what I did: I took the same pile of mixed color and used that one hue to paint the two moons above. Each moon is placed against a different valued background as shown in pic 2. It is a little more noticeable in the b/w image but the moon in the sky is perceived to be darker than the moon on the water even though in fact they are exactly the same color and the same value. (He refers to these two things as hue and light intensity I believe.) It's a nifty trick no?

Perception is key here and in fact, Albers stresses this point throughout the book. He presents some opinions about working with color theory, about developing your own color aesthetic through experimentation, and how students can be stifled when they start at the "wrong" end of the teaching spectrum, i.e., they skip this important experimentation stage and fail to develop an informed aesthetic because they are following a set color formula. It's fascinating actually for me to consider this because, frankly, I can relate! Being a newbie artist myself, I understand about clinging to formulas of any sort. Painting can feel like drowning at times.

The book is a real gem of a read if you can get past some of the flowery language. (Why did they feel the need to write like this back in the day?) I am reading it again so that I can get a better grasp on things. Much of what he has written sounds like the manipulation of values and hues and chroma, no matter how he expresses his theories.

OK, hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  1. Love it! (although I confess I had a fleeting mental image of a fried egg... which is also a good thing!)

  2. Following the reflection principle I see. Light reflects darker and dark reflects lighter. Good job!
    the principles in Albers book were drilled into me. Also Chevruel.
    Here is a link to a Youtube on simultaneous contrast you may enjoy.


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