Cezanne once wrote, “The sunlight here is so intense that it seems to me that objects are silhouetted not only on black and white but also in blue, red, brown, and violet.”


Monet painting showing many different kinds of lights and darks.


As the weather gets better many artists’ head outside to paint and draw.   The Impressionists are typically thought of as the first painters to paint outside.  However famous painter Turner who predates the Impressionists did paint outside.  He even had a boat outfitted so he could paint from the boat in plein air style.   Two different things helped the Impressionists’ on their quest to paint the natural fleeting light of nature.  One was the the concept of contrast in complementary colors developed in the 19th century by the chemist Michel-Eugene Chevreul.  The other was the development of new paint colors at that time.  In fact of 20 principal colors used in their painting, research found that 12 were the new paint colors of the day.   If you would like more information on color I would recommend  the book “Bright Earth-Art and the invention of color” by Philip Ball.  So artists painting outside don’t be afraid to paint the color you really see!  Those not claiming to be an artist can just enjoy observing the multitude of color variations outdoors as they change by the moment.

One Comment

  1. Piebird

    Yes, I’ve been noticing and enjoying our early spring colors in buds, new leaves and flowers. And the skies have been startling in their strong blues with bright white and shades of grey clouds before the wet weather rolls in. Love it!


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