method notes


• Our perception of a colour is effected by colours that surround it; so my studies start out with colour patches painted as surrounds for smaller colour areas. These patches become partly covered up or modified, but enough is left to refer to in the studio. Examples would be the base colours of different areas of rock, and the green plant colours painted upon them. 


• I look for combinations of colour and texture: colour-textures. These often express a single organism or material, like the leaf pattern of a plant or the texture of a rock. The greens upper left in the study above are beech. In the lower canopy beech grows flat rafts of leaves, which make distinctive colour-textures. Within these are further colours, and I pick the smallest number I need to give the character of that area. I only have to paint one colour mark to stand for a texture, because I can use software to find the distribution of that colour from a correctly exposed digital image in the studio, - and so reveal the colour-texture.

• Though colour-textures are often associated with individual things, perceived colour-textures can override object types. For example, the right bank of the study above contains a great variety of plant species, but my first impression was of just two colour-textures: one a haze of dark blue-green dots, the other a pattern of big blue-green leaves. So those were the two colours I tried to record. 


The pool for both studies was a different problem because I used glazes for a sense of water depth. It's tricky to predict the combined effect of superimposed glazes. But I began by giving each area of the pool a base hue and tone relative to its neighbours. Saturation was then built up with glazes, as a test run for the studio.

• The pinkish grey patches painted on top of the glazed area are for the colour-textures of reflected light from wavelets. 
• For 'Furnace summer cloud' I became aware of ambient green light under the canopy. I was suurprised, as our visual system usually removes the colour of the illumination to maintain colour constancy. But you can see ambient light when two differently lit areas are juxtaposed: compare yellow domestic lights seen from outside a house at night - when you can compare the light in the window with the night sky - to the light if you are inside the same room, which can hardly seem yellow at all and where a white object looks white, not yellow.

In this case I started to notice warm green light across the pool when I found myself adding warm green to quite unlikely colours. As I was sitting in a opening among the trees, I may have been comparing the green light under the trees with cooler daylight falling on my pallate. But whatever the cause, halfway through I covered most of the study with a sap green glaze, and there was an instant improvement.

I added brighter whites, greys and pinks later, on top of the glaze, as I had no sense of green in these colours.

Paintings and prints available. For information, images and all other enquiries please contact


Phone: +44 (0)1353 667014

Letter: Coach House, 7 Douglas Court, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4SE, UK


Copyright © 2020 Stephen Taylor Paintings. All rights reserved. Website by Infiniti Graphics