The Alchemy of Paint
I’ve been thinking about how completely alchemical the act of painting is. Pigments are basically dirt, bones, heavy metals, dyes and crushed rocks with perhaps the odd insects blood in there. Victoria Finlay wrote that fascinating book on the history of colour titled Colour: a Natural History of the Pallet. Although I’m captivated by mixing colours together to create subtle shifts, what really blows me away is that it doesn’t always turn to mud! I think that the really alchemy lies in how our perception organises colour on a two dimensional surface so that it represents something, whether it’s perceived in our inner world or in our environment.
At the moment I’m really enjoying painting from observation, refining my ability to see subtle colour shifts, thinking about colour and light beyond form and learning from nature. It’s an observation in how one colour sits next to another colour to create form. If a black and white photo were taken, the two colours sitting side by side may appear to be the same flat grey. But add colour and the space that the colours exit in bends. Form becomes apparent and atmosphere is created. Essentially it’s a study of Impressionism. Not an Impressionism of theory, but one of direct observation. I’m grateful to Cezanne, Monet, Bonnard, Pissarro and many others for their wonderful experiments.
I find pinning colour down really challenging. My paintings will always be inaccurate, because colour is reflected light. Some light is absorbed by an object, and some is reflected. It’s the reflected light we see. But the light of the day is always shifting moment to moment. The world I observe is a flickering light. Cloudy days are the hardest because colours are always changing in intensity.
It’s through these ‘inaccuracies’ built up over the course of a painting that my paintings become my own. They are an expression of my commitment to my perception, one colour at a time. If I change one colour in my painting, all the other colour relationships are altered. In this sense, a painting is a field of colour relationships and ‘inaccuracies’ in perception. This edge that lies between an outer world in flux and my perceptions that are based on my inner atmospheres, fascinates me. This is where alchemy is present. This is why I paint.
The above painting is another exploration in yellow called
YELLOW VIBRATION 2.
It measures 23cm x 30cm (9″ x 12″) and is available on my website under ‘Available’ at lynnlobo.com
I would love to hear if my thoughts spark any thoughts for you.