Integration, Part 1: Light by Michael Newberry
Integration is, perhaps, the most complex problem in making art. Often it is the cause of an artist’s agony and ecstasy. In this two part series, each tutorial will focus on one problem and show how the solution fits into the whole.
The theme of Counterpose is about a harmony of contrast. At that time in my life, it reflected my quest to pull together many different aspects of art and life and to balance them.
I have removed the color from this image so that we can focus on the tonal values of the light.
Counterpose, 1990, oil on linen, 36×42″ (Black/white photo)
Notice the dramatic difference between the highlights on her face and fingers and the dark casted shadows. I am purposefully using light and shadow to support the painting’s theme of contrast.
In the orange circle, you can see the high contrast of the fabric of the folds.
Almost every part of her body has an element of contrast between the light and shadow. You will notice that the highest contrasts are in the foreground and as parts of her body recede away from us the contrast diminishes. This also allows for her body to be integrated into space, which, of course, is another tutorial.
As a foil to Counterpose, the theme of Denouement is about the radiance of love. It has a much softer, diffused light which radiates out from the lamp on the floor.
Though these b/w photos are of the finished paintings in color, I did paint a monochromatic underpainting for both of them. The advantage of monochromatic under-painting is that it is easier to organize all the tonal values and details without the added worry of the hue (color values) of things.
If you are a painter struggling with a mess that isn’t coming together, take the color out and it will immediate help pull the work together. From that point, go back into color, carefully matching the color with your monochromatic tonal values.
Denouement, 1987, oil on linen (Black/white photo)
Here is a side by side comparison of Counterpose in color and without.
The next tutorial on integration will be about the high contrast of color in Counterpose.
New York, July 28th, 2006