On Not Getting Stuck in Your Old Ways

The other day, I published an “On the Easel” post about Caloundra, Dramatic Sunrise (you can read it here if you missed it). I enjoyed that painting so much I decided to paint the subject again, from a photo taken earlier in the morning. The composition is roughly the same, but the colors and overall mood are completely different. You can see the painting here.

This painting was the first time I used black paint in many years. I previously followed the ways of the Impressionists, parting with black in favor of a brighter palette. If I needed a dark shadow, I would mix my own black-substitute using ultramarine blue and raw umber.

But, there was no substitute for black in this painting. It was the only suitable color to depict the distant land’s dark silhouette. The painting also needed black as a point of contrast for the sunlight. Without it, the sunlight looked weak and lacking. That’s the thing about color—it’s all about the relationships. It doesn’t matter if you paint one color just right if the surrounding colors are off.

What’s the lesson here?

Be careful not to get stuck in your old ways and always keep an open mind. My painting would have been worse off had I stuck to my usual palette (without black).

There are so many options in painting. If you only ever paint the same thing in the same way, you are ignoring all the other possibilities waiting to be explored.

Kind regards

Dan Scott