I observed that when I painted en plein air my paintings were often plagued with weak color, especially in the darks. Gradually it dawned on me that using a dark palette caused me to pitch my colors to the dark side because darks on a dark palette looked lighter. To remedy the situation I decided I need to paint on a white palette. Darks on a white palette look very dark and so the white palette should help me keep dark and middle value colors fully saturated. Of course this remedy may cause me to mix my lights too light. To remedy that negative possibility I will paint on a blank white canvas.
By painting on a white canvas my darks will look very dark and will remedy my tendency to desaturate color by painting darks too dark and my lights too light. It will also be advisable to paint the sky last, placing my darkest colors first and gradually lightening as I go. This is somewhat counterintuitive because in the studio I paint distant things first and work my way toward the foreground (this helps me with edges and overlapping shapes). I believe this new method will help me with the more basic problem of getting correct relationships between darks and lights which, at the moment, seems to be my problem in the field.
If we could find teachers with the exact strengths and weaknesses we have, or teachers who can imagine such weaknesses and know how to remedy them, we could find the perfect teachers. Until then we have to tally up our strengths and weaknesses and devise ways to cancel or offset those weaknesses. We also might change our methods to remedy specific problems at specific times. In other words we have to be as creative in overcoming our personal obstacles, in teaching ourselves, as we are in the creative act itself.
Brad Teare © 2010