Quite an enigmatic title. But it refers to the fact that I loaded a photo I posted some months ago into Adobe Color CC, and extracted a nice color theme from it. I let the software run by itself without steering it at all. The result is quite nice.
And for the sake of completeness, the original photograph.
I was somehow struck by the location, the colours, the strong horizontals, and the abandoned functionalism of the place. Aquasanta Terme (Le Marche, Italy) is an old town with a thermal spa situated in a deep valley. Sulfuric sources stream through the station and end up in the river that meanders through the canyon. The swimming pool is at the higher end of the town, and is accompanied by a slightly dystopian parking area.
Although the thermal spa is still in use, it has abandoned area’s too. Squeezed against the rock, this old building.
This watercolour was a real pain to create. The Mulberry paper is mainly used for printing techniques like etching, and doesn’t like India ink and watercolour. When applying watercolour the water is sucked right out of the brush, and the rough surface resists a nice even brushstroke. But I wanted to approach ancient, and predominantly non-Western techniques, like the tree-bark paintings that originates in some South-Sea areas.
Although the painting refers to South-Sea visual- and narrative motives, it also contains references to African (Chi Wara) antilope masks, DNA strings, architectural remnants of past cultures and ancient Northern European runes. It’s a memory chart of cultural history, a theme that I have started to explore again recently.
From time to time I take stock of the colour themes that we carefully create with the use of Adobe Color CC (previously called Kuler). I started using Kuler years ago, and now, after the integration of the applications into the Creative Cloud I still have all my themes right there, at my fingertips, from the first attempts onto the latest themes. Nice.
There is magic involved in mixing and matching the right hues, values, and saturations of the colours. Do they live together? Do they clash? Do they create a harmony, calm, energy? So many memories and associations are intrinsically connected with colour. Like the scents that sent Proust into the past, colour can transport us, change our mood, evoke something we thought we forgot.
Turning the colour wheel, and finding the right theme is invigorating, and intellectually stimulating. But, finding a fitting title is just sheer fun. From the mundane, to the ridiculous, from the serious, to the childish, I think I have exhausted the whole spectrum of possibilities. Now I sometimes create a theme, just for the fun of having to think up a title later.
I picked a couple of themes from the CC colour library I created over time and made some colour theme samples in Illustrator to accompany this post.
Prep drawing for a larger piece in acrylic. This sketch is as washed pen and ink drawing. A very light sepia ink by Rohrer & Klingner was used in combination with Rembrandt watercolor paint on watercolor paper (I can’t remember the brand).
Eh, well… nothing much to say here. A quickly colourwashed sketch on fairly thin paper from a sketch pad (it has gone a bit wobbly). I combined elements of an existing industrial site nearby with beach houses, and some beach houses turned into tombs (e.g. Père Lachaise, Paris), with some random assorted architectural forms.
I could, of course, assign it a deeper meaning, about industry, pollution, humanity, and sepulchral architecture turned into objects symbolizing leisure, or vice versa. But, to be absolutely honest. I had none of these thoughts, or associations, nope, none whatsoever.
An oldie. I made this piece in the nineties, but I still remember that I had the CD of the Kronos Quartet ‘Pieces Of Africa’ in my CD player, and I listened the piece with vocals by Hassan Hakmoun over and over. I was ‘in the zone’ (although that expression did not exist at the time) and used a photo that was printed in an old book by Henri de Monfreid as a source of inspiration.
I covered the panel with a number of layers of black paint which I coated with retouching varnish. And then I painted layers of acrylic paint in sections, interwoven with layers of varnish. With the opaque whites a sense of presence is achieved, while the layered ochres have the depth of glazed oil paint. It is one of my first experiments with acrylic paint. I found it quite difficult to adjust to it. Even now I have to go back to oils now and again, which, with COBRA water soluble paint is easier than ever. I don’t miss the smelly terpentine. I do think, however, that the COBRA tubes could be manufactured more carefully. The paint is fine, but the labels on the tubes peel away very quickly, which is unpleasant, cumbersome and gives it a cheap appearance despite its pro-price.
Acrylics are my paint of choice when I have not much time, and have to do a lot of other work in between painting sessions.