25.5 in. x 35.3 in.
Over the years I have taken hundreds of photographs of Autumn leaves in the hope of using them in making striking paintings. Apparently I succeeded with at least one painting. After viewing a painting of Augumn colors, an art gallery representative asked me if I used iridescent paint! No, I don’t but her comment was exactly the kind of feedback I wanted to hear. I love painting with vibrant colors, especially when I can make them pop out.
I use regular artists’ oil paint but I take advantage of some tricks that artists use to make colors as bright and bold as possible. For example, I surround each color with its complementary color—red colors surrounded by green, and yellow colors surrounded by purple. The accentuation of complementary color combinations is a property of our visual chemistry which is too lengthy to explain in this brief story, but it is explained clearly by Margaret Livingstone in “Vision and Art. The Biology of Seeing.” I can’t recommend this book highly enough for anyone insterested in understanding the behavior of pigments in painting.
Unfortunately, scenes with complementary combinations of color are not common in nature. The background of a colorful tree that I would like to paint is usually surrounded by many other brightly colored trees. They tend to blend into one another. The scene that inspired this painting is one of those rare scenes that provide a natural separation of the subject from the background. The sun was low on the horizon, streaming over the hill on the oposite side of the lake, casting the lake into a deep green shadow and the far side into shades of purple, but striking the colorful tree directly, thereby accentuating the contrast.