|A welcome friend M Francis McCarthy|
"Why are your paintings so dark?"
I get asked this once in awhile at my studio by visitors. I reply that the paintings are rendered in a lower key than what is currently fashionable. Also, to my eyes many modern landscapes seem excessively bright and their colors too chromatic and lacking in subtlety.
Paintings that are made using transparent or semi opaque layers tend to need a lot more light on them to reveal themselves at their best. For this reason many of these types of paintings benefit from having a light directly on them.
There are two distinct approaches to painting; direct and indirect. Good examples of direct painting are artists like: Monet, William Merritt Chase and Vincent Van Gogh. Good examples of indirect painting are: George Inness, Charles Warren Eaton and Whistler. You can do great stuff either way or by combining the approaches.
I prefer indirect for my final paintings as it can convey multiple layers of mood and color. Also because I can reflect and correct as I go but ideally there is a trail of movement just below the surface that shows the structure as well as the finish. I enjoy painting my oil sketches directly as they are small and quickly realized.
Layering transparent glazes of oil tends to darken as the light source must work it's way through the layers and bounce back to the viewer. More opaque styles reflect the source light more directly from the surface.
|Late Summer M Francis McCarthy|
As a side bar. On my recent trip to Paris I saw many excellent paintings at the Louvre. Many of them would be considered quite dark. What was interesting to me as a modern painter was the focused use of intent contrasts between the lights and dark's in a painting that drew the views eye to where the painter wanted it. Someting thats hard to do if the whole painting is light.