“The trouble is, my dear doctor, is that you see, but you do not observe…”
– Sherlock Holmes to Watson

I don’t know how many times over the years I have said something to my kids (like for them to take out the garbage) and then 20 minutes later when I ask why the chore wasn’t done, they protest to me, “I didn’t hear that!”

Well, yes, they did hear, but they were not listening.

I have found the same thing happens visually. We look, we see, but we do not OBSERVE.

Nuance. What a lovely word. If I had to say there was one thing that we artists struggle with universally it is this… nuance.

Here is a selection of paint color chips from a hardware store.

What do you notice? See all the colors?

Yes, colors… this swatch is very colorful to me.

Look closely! What color dominates each square?

Can you see the nuances better now that there are names attached to them? There is no such thing as a neutral color. No matter how “dirty” or low-chroma a color can get, it still has a dominance that falls into one of the 12 color families. (Grey is not a color remember?) And more amazing, depending on the surroundings of any particular color, a stick or mixture can appear to “jump” into another color family. Then looking like a completely different color. Wow! That is why there is no reason to me to sort colors into pretty, fanned-out arrangements. (yuk) When you take that stick in isolation away from its like-minded brethren, it can be a teenager- it will rebel and become something else when you are not looking.

Ah, control… over color… over your painting…

There is still room in my Color Workshop on June 25th from 10- 4pm EST. It will be a day to observe color and to think about it in a more concrete way. Then “take the wheel” to developing paintings. Current sign-ups across the world are now raiding hardware stores and putting together their “Color Chip boxes” (at my direction) to use for serious color study for that day and for future use. There is still time to join in.

Will your brain hurt by the end of the day?

Plan on it.


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