Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Behind the Art: Lighthouse Red

This week I featured a “Season’s Greetings” from West Quoddy Light in winter.  West Quoddy is the easternmost point of the United States.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of West Quoddy Light is the bright red colouring of the bands on the light tower and the roof of the lantern.  This is accented by the black iron work mounted atop the red and white brick tower, a base for the lantern assembly.

The red on the roof of the lantern and also in the stripes on the light tower give us an opportunity to look at light and shade on a brilliant colour.  In the bright sunlight, the red is highlighted by adding some white to it with a touch of yellow.  In the shade, the bright red is darkened by adding green, or more correctly blue and yellow mixed together, with probably more blue than yellow.

One of the fundamental rules of colour is that a colour is shaded with its opposite; so red is shaded with green.  The green neutralizes the brilliance of the red and, therefore, shades it.  The red ball at the top is a perfect example of using the various shades of the brilliant red colour to give shape to an object.  While much of the red ball is in shaded from the sun, a small patch of it, facing the sun, is bright red, with a highlight of yellow and white tinting to the red.  Handling the colour, highlight and shade gives shape to the lantern roof too.

While the same rules apply to painting any objects, the bright colour of the red in this lighthouse lends itself very well to illustrate these principles of light and shade

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