Friday, August 24, 2012

Onions and Peppers: An Example of "Successive Contrast" : How a Change in the Background Color Makes the Vegetables More Appealing

Onions and Peppers /watercolor/ 5.5" x 9"/
It is interesting to see this painting "before" (lower) and "after" (top) a change in the background color.
Increasing the intensity and saturation of the purple background makes the green onions appear greener.  This happens because of "successive contrast". Successive contrast occurs when the eye views colors in sequence (as your eye looks over a painting, one place to the next). As the eye views a color, it becomes "fatigued" and forms an "afterimage" in the eye.

The "afterimage" is  the complimentary color. This afterimage influences the other colors in the painting, especially in paintings with high contrast and saturated colors .
(repainted above)
In the repainted image above,  the after image of the more saturated purple (which would be its compliment, yellow) adds to the green color of the onions, so they now appear brighter green-yellow. The afterimage of the green (red) and the purple (yellow) increase the "red-orange" of the peppers. This is well described in Hilary Page's Book "Color Right From the Start".

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