This is what makes a work of art have impact. How many ways to contrast can you think of ?

I wonder how many of you will put me to shame and think of many more than my list below? But consider this! How many times do you miss an opportunity to take one or many of these and use them in your work? I could expand on each one for ages, and may well spend the time if enough of you ask for it.

  1. Light against dark. This is the obvious one to start from. But take a long look at EVERYTHING, from looking into a magnifying glass to looking at the Earth from outer space, they all are obeying the same rules. Look for example at a round object, such as an egg. What is right next to the highlight? The shadow is. The darkest part against the light. Then as we come around the ‘egg we get into the reflected light, but the darkest is right beside the lightest. The old saying ‘it is darkest just before the dawn’ is so true, take another look at those photos of Earth. So, do that in your paintings.
  2. Hot against cold. I have another whole tip on this, when discussing when to use black. So many times I see the opportunity lost to contrast a cold colour against a warm one.
  3. Soft detail against hard detail.
  4. Static against moving.
  5. Close against distant.
  6. Detailed against lack of detail.
  7. Thin paint against fat paint.
  8. Impasto strokes against invisible strokes.

I am reluctant to stop because there are ways to contrast that I take for granted, and they are automatic after so many years. In fact, the use of complimentary colours which is as basic as A.B.C. is all about contrasting.

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