Gazing at a sunlit Euonymus bush while my gas tank was filling, fireworks exploded inside my head.

Mid Value Reds for Sunlit Glow

The scanned image posted here falls short of representing the original sketch.

I had wondered if I had learned enough from creating Color Wheel Three and Color Wheel Four to recommend anyone else going through the effort of making them.  For me, after my eureka moment at the gas station, every moment working on those color wheels were moments well spent.

I am a slow learner when it comes to color.  The left side of my brain insists that anything that is screamingly bright on a sunlit day should be translated into a color falling in the Light Value Range on the Grayscale. (I highly recommend purchasing or making a grayscale similar to the Artist’s Gray Scale and Value Finder.) After painting Color Wheel Three and Color Wheel Four, it was perfectly clear to me that a highly saturated Red will never fall within the Light Value Range.  As soon as either water is added or white pigment is added, the intensity (the saturation) of the hue is diminished.) Therefore, when I see a burning, brilliant, red (the Eunoymus Bush) in an autumn landscape, it will always fall within the Mid Value Range to maintain its intensity.  After decades of painting, I am embarrassed to admit that I found this shocking.  I wore a silly grin on my face for the rest of the day.

I will post small oil sketches of examples in the next few days.  Sorry the above image doesn’t serve as a proper example to illustrate my point.  In the original sketches, the most successful illusion of sunlight bouncing off red leaves is the lower right sketch.  It is far more effective than either of the Lighter Value trees in the top two sketches.  The yellow tree appears to be sunlit, but it doesn’t glow.  The bottom right tree definitely has a glow about it.

The left side of my brain is still unhappy about a mid value color creating a more convincing illusion of light than a light value color.  Too bad, left brain, right brain is getting smarter while maintaining its ability to be creative!

Sketches: Watercolor sketches in a small handmade sketchbook made from 200 lb watercolor paper.

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