Yesterday’s lack of successful problem solving had me drawing trumpet parts again at 4 am this morning.

Trumpet Parts 43, 43B and 44

You can read the details of the struggle on Third Time Around.  When I went to bed last night I thought the problem lay in my careless invention of table edge and background walls.  I discovered that the problem began with the positions of the trumpet valves.  Spaces between them and around them were almost equal, creating lack of dynamics and uninteresting shapes.

Working out problems with the shapes and values

When the most basic element of all, shape within a composition, isn’t working, good choices of values and colors only serve as distractions from the main problem.  Energetic splats, beautiful strokes and lovely color can seduce the viewer’s attention away from the underlying weakness of the work.

One word about color value.  The colors in the Modified Triad of Red, Orange and Yellow are warm colors and all three fall within the top half of the value scale.  The only way to introduce the bottom half of the value scale is by neutralizing the colors.  I used their complements to neutralize them, adding only enough to keep within the range of the color.  For example:  I added ultramarine blue to the orange, but not enough to cause it to look either green or blue.  I kept it to a dark brown.

My palette: Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Lemon, New Gamboge, Cadmium Orange …  plus Phthalo Green, Ultramarine Blue and Dioxazine Purple as complements to neutralize the basic colors of the color scheme.

The effort to save the painting was worthwhile.  It forced me to think differently, to look harder and to break the work down into its structural elements.  Though the work itself remains trash, a future painting will benefit from the struggle.

I hope I don’t throw the combination of Modified Triad and Dominant Color Orange again.  It doesn’t make my heart sing.

Sketchbook struggle:  Drawn first with fountain pen filled with mystery brownish ink, followed by watercolor, followed by dip pen in mystery brownish ink.