7.2. The contrast of light and dark

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Day and night, light and shadow. These opposites are of fundamental importance in human life and nature in general. For the artist, white and black color is the most powerful means of expression to denote light and shadow. White and black are opposite in every respect, but the area located between the grays and the entire range of chromatic colors. The problems of light and shadow, white, black and gray, as well as problems of light and shadow in fact pure colors, as well as their relationship should be carefully studied, because the solution of these problems is particularly necessary in our creative work. Black velvet, perhaps, is the most black and barium sulphate – the whitest. There is only one black and one the most most white and an infinite number of light and dark shades of gray, which can be deployed in a continuous scale between white and black. The number of distinct shades of gray eye depends on the sensitivity of the eye and the limit of perception of the viewer. This limit can be reduced by practical exercises, and thus the number of distinct eye gradual transition will be increased. Uniform gray, his lifeless surface can attain a mysterious activity by subtle modulations of shadow. This feature is of great importance for artists and designers, requiring them to extreme sensitivity to tonal differences. The neutral gray color is devoid of nature, indifferent achromatic color, easily change under the influence of contrasting tones and colors. It is there, but easily excited and gives great tone. Any color can be immediately withdraw from the neutral gray tones in achromatic color range, giving it the color that is complementary to the color, and raised him up. This conversion occurs subjectively in our eyes, not objectively in the color tone. Gray – a sterile, neutral color, life and the nature of which depends on its neighboring colors. It softens their strength or making them more juicy. As a neutral intermediary, he brings together vivid contrasts, while absorbing their power, and thus, like a vampire, acquiring own life. On this basis, rejected Delacroix gray as the consuming power of the other colors.

Gray may be obtained by mixing black and white or yellow, red, blue, and white, or any other pair of complementary colors. First, we build a consistent number of twelve-gray tones ranging from white to black. It is important that steps were built strictly equally blackout. Grey average brightness must be located in the center of the scale, and each step to be absolutely one-color and free of blemishes, with between steps should be neither light nor dark lines. Such a gray scale can be made for any of the chromatic colors. If we take the number of the tone, the blue podtemnyaetsya black to blue-black and brightens white to blue-white color. These exercises are designed to develop the sensitivity to colors. Twelve colors in art is not something that the system is “Well-Tempered Clavier” in music. In the art of color important means of expression may not be the only regular intervals, but imperceptible transitions like “glissando” in music.

The following exercises are designed for in-depth understanding of the contrast of light and dark. Thus, selecting a few gray tones of their overall scale, it is necessary to create a unified composition, connecting them together in any order. After completing four to six similar songs and compare them with each other, we find the best solution. Students quickly realize that it means well-assembled, convincing solutions and poor, unstable. This is a very simple exercise have revealed the ability to master the art of light and dark contrast.


Figure 11 shows the development of the composition of light and dark shades, arranged in staggered rows. This composition can be solved lighter or darker, but her main task is to raise a sense of vision and light-dark contrast and gradation. Having mastered the challenges of tonal relations of white, gray and black, you can go to the study of contrasts, based on the proportional and proportions of colors. Contrast ratios – is opposed to large – small, long – short, wide – narrow, thick – thin. In order to master this, you need to perform exercises on the proportional ratio of light and dark, which develop not only a sense of proportion, but also the perception of positive and negative, dark and white, residual forms.

In the European and East Asian art we find a lot of products that are built exclusively on pure contrast of light and dark. This contrast was of great importance for ink painting in China and Japan. The basics of this art grew up here from the font and writing brush. These figures font possessed great wealth of forms. To achieve meaningful and rhythmic precision of execution, the painter had to do a huge amount of hand movements. A prerequisite for the “right” of writing brush was also a sense of form, rhythmic flair and intuitive plastic movements. “Just as the archer accurately outlines a goal, nock and releases the arrow, and the writer must focus, imagine the shape of characters, and then with much confidence and determination to lead the brush.” So said the Chinese Chang Iyo. This style of writing is the result of an internal automatism. Just as the font signs only after endless exercises in the end, as it is automatically flowed from the brush, and the study of the forms of nature at the Chinese and Japanese artists went so far as their play was performed almost “by heart.” This automatism presupposes a spiritual focus and at the same time easing the physical stress. Meditative exercises in a vat or Zen Buddhism, formed the basis of the spiritual and physical preparation. Therefore, among the greatest artists working in ink, we find a lot of monks belonging to these sects. The color must be shown as dark as red and blue. Bright yellow in the darkening necessarily loses its character. So many artists feel a natural desire not to obscure it. Figure 14 are all colors to the same degree of darkening as blue in the center.

Particular difficulties cause cold and warm colors. Cool colors give the impression of lightness and transparency and, in most cases using too light, while warmer colors, because of their opacity, used too dark. The same lightness or darkness do the same color as it related. Due to the same tone as if they are connected and united with each other. This fact and its possibilities as an artistic means can not be underestimated. A particularly difficult problem in the light and dark chromatic colors and their relation to the achromatic color – black, white and gray.


On a color bowl (Fig. 51, 52) are represented as chromatic colors of the color wheel, consisting of twelve parts, as well as achromatic. In contrast to the lively diversity of vibration chromatic colors, achromatic impression of rigidity, and the unavailability of abstraction. However, with the chromatic colors in achromatic colors can awaken quivering vitality.


Figures 31 … 36, we see how an achromatic gray so under the influence of neighboring color that begins to look further to it. But the monks not only to meditate in order to become an artist, but also used as a drawing brush meditation exercises in order to achieve internal concentration. A method of image woodcuts and copper also based on a comparison of dark and light. Due to the direction of the stroke and tonal planes printmaker can achieve differentiated transfer of all tonal dark and light. Using these methods in their Rembrandt etchings sought solutions for the huge number of different topics. It is not surprising that in his drawings pen or brush, masterfully executed in the technique of chiaroscuro, he often reached the suggestive power of persuasion characteristic of East Asian ink painting. Sulfur in his numerous drawings of the scientific approach to forming gradation of light and dark. Rationally thinking point by point, he sought in his drawings, as in his paintings, softest tone transitions. So far we have studied the contrast of light and dark only in black and white and gray tones. However, it is extremely important to colors that have the same brightness or darkness of the same could be accurately distinguished. To develop this ability may be due to the following three exercises. On razgraflёnnom like a chessboard a piece of paper one of the cells is filled with yellow, red or blue paint. The challenge is to each of the colors to add color to the same lightness or darkness similar to them. It is necessary to ensure that in each exercise were used, respectively, yellowish, bluish or reddish tones. Also, do not confuse brightness and color purity, with its lightness. Quest, the essence of which is to write all the colors are as bright as yellow, is very difficult because of the fact that a very bright yellow color, is known at once (Fig. 13).

Another difficulty arises also when involved in the formulation and border on chromatic colors, achromatic color a lightness to them, the latter lose their neutral. If the artist is desirable that achromatic colors retain their abstract character, it must give a chromatic color different from their lightness. If the color composition of white, gray and black colors are used as a means of creating the abstract impression, in this composition should not be chromatic colors of the same lightness, because otherwise as a result of the simultaneous contrast of gray will give the impression of a chromatic color. If the gray color of the composition is used as a pictorial component, the tone must be of the same lightness as the chromatic color.

While the Impressionists sought to the picturesque effects of gray tones, supporters of a constructive and realistic painting belonged to the black, white and gray color as a means to abstract effects.


Problems of color contrasts of light and dark can be easily solved with the help of the exercises presented in Figure 15. dvenadtsatichastnym grayscale tones in its transition from white to black, we are adding twelve pure colors of the color wheel corresponding to its brightness gradations of gray. And we see that pure yellow color corresponds to the third stage of gray, orange – the fifth, red – the sixth, blue – the eighth, and purple – the tenth. The table shows that intense yellow color is the light of pure tones and purple – the darkest. So yellow, to coincide with the dark tones of the gray scale should be muted, starting from the fourth stage. Pure red and blue tones are located more deeply, at a distance of only a few steps away from the black and white. Each admixture of black or white reduces the brightness of the color.

If we prepare a table with a sequence of eighteen steps instead of twelve and interconnected in terms of maximum brightness, we can see that the curve will have the shape of a parabola. The fact that bright saturated colors differ in lightness, as shown in the table of figure 16, extremely important. We should understand that bright, saturated yellow rather bright and that such a substance as a dark yellow color does not exist. Intense, very sensitive blue is dark and light blue colors are pale and dull. Red color only in the dark as can emit its brightness and bleached to the level of pure yellow loses its brightness. Colorist must take this into account in his compositions. When the painter is required to create the most intense yellow appearance, the entire composition should wear a bright character, while the rich red or blue need total dark solution composition. Glowing red colors in the paintings of Rembrandt so impressively shine only by contrast with darker. When Rembrandt wants to shine yellow tones, it puts them in a relatively bright color range. While deep red in this environment begins to impress just something dark and loses its sonority.

Color difference in their brightness poses a particularly difficult challenge to artists working with textiles. It is known that the textile project is solved once in four or more of color options that are in the collection must possess a certain unity of color. The basic rule is here that each drawing coloristic embodiment has the same system contrast ratios as in Figures 11 and 12.

If the main project has a bright red color, the rest of color options will not enough bright colors, with the same degree of darkness which has red. But in this case the ratio between the color gradations in all embodiments, must be identical. If the red color will be replaced by bright orange, the whole color composition should be restructured in accordance with steps svetlotnoy gradation of bright orange. Also in this case orange fabric with pattern will generally lighter in color than the fabric in red embodiment. If we were to equate the color orange to red graduation degrees, the bright red would match devoid of any brightness brown-orange color. The great difficulty lies in the fact that relations between the lightness and darkness of pure colors vary depending on the intensity of illumination. Red, orange and yellow appear more dark when bright light is not sufficient, while the green and blue in these conditions are perceived lighter. The colors and their relationship perfectly manifest themselves only in daylight and at dusk are distorted. Painting for the altar, and intended for gloom church should not be exposed to bright artificial light, because such coverage ratio will distort all light colors.

I would like to emphasize that the painter intense yellow color contains neither white nor black, and they are not in a pure orange, red, blue, purple and green. When the artist speaks of the red color with black or white admixture, it is due to its modified, bleached or darkened tone. For technical purposes admixture of black or white it has a different purpose.

Picture painted by the contrast of light and dark, can be sustained in the two, three or four basic keys. The artist works, as they say, two, three, four colors, while taking care to main groups were well matched with each other. Each of the planes may have slight differences in tone, which should not blur the distinction between the main groups. To comply with this rule, it is important to have an eye to perceive color the same tone. If major tonal or group plans do not comply, then the composition loses its organization, clarity and strength.

The main reason that makes the artist’s work plans is the need to keep the painting in its overall flatness. Through ordering plans can be smooth and to protect all the undesirable effects of depth. The development of the space inside can be terminated due to the tone of The correlation relationship with the tone plans. Typically, the plans are divided into front, middle and rear. But not necessarily to the main figures are certainly in the foreground. The foreground may be completely empty, and the main action unfold in the middle ground. Fine opportunity principle contrast light and dark can be illustrated by a picture of Francisco Zurbaran (1598-1664) “Lemons, oranges and roses,” Florence Meeting A.Kontini-Bonakossi; Rembrandt ‘Man with the Golden Helmet “, Berlin, Art Gallery, and Pablo Picasso’s” Guitar on the mantelpiece, “1915.