Furnace Winter Sun

oil on linen, 51cms x 56cms
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site oil study

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acrylic composition

Sunlight caught in waterfall mist. If I'm not careful the painting could look like pixie light, a sentimental confection, not the source - whereas the source was extraordinary. 

I drove back and forth from Aberystwyth for a month to finish this study, as the winter sun effect was visible on only a few mornings, when the fall was in medium spate with clean, not silty, water. In these conditions water in the shade of the rock glowed a pale ultramarine grey next to the orange-magenta haze.

Later, two hundred and fifty miles away in the studio, I wanted to make this evanescent event permanent. My first problem was compositional, as it was hard to forsee a canvas divided diagonally into two lights as a unity.

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oil underpainting

The dark grey colours are underpainting for falling water. it's possible to create at least four colour effects from a single colour, not only by glazing or making a scumbled optical mix with the ground, but also from the sharpness or softness of the colour edge, which adds high or low contrast 'brightness'. Expoliting colours like this helps to articulate the limited colours picked out from nature in the study.

This way of using oil colour comes largely from the Venitian workshop tradition, and it was taught in European style Academies in the Ninteenth century. Perhaps partly because of this, many artists had abandoned them by the mid Twentieth century. Nevertheless, these techniques offer great reprentational and aesthetic force and remain a major resource of oil painting.

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Digital files. I previously used HDR files to map colour texture distrbutions from on the spot oils studies. However, over time, I found that for many scenes the compressions were unreliable and a relatively poor representation of the beautiful perceived colour groups registered in the studies. (In effect the studies offered a critique of the algorithm). Nevertheless, calibrated raw files from the camera were still colometrically very accurate, so it was still possible to use matched areas from more than one exposure, though separately. This involved trawling the photo record and chopping up images to make a usually quite simple montage. That's what I'm doing here.

A further gain in control was made by switching from Adobe Photoshop's 'magic wand' selector tool, with only very generalised (and secret) selection parameters, to a much more powerful selection tool within VIPS, an open source image processing package developed by The National Gallery and The University of Southampton.

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

Email: st@stephentaylorpaintings.com

Phone: +44 (0)1353 667014

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

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