Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Though some other plein air painters seem to be able to disprove my theory, until today I had not really managed it. The theory is this: "The abundance of light outdoors, even when standing in shadow, makes it virtually impossible to record colours seen, in a chroma which looks correct outdoors and indoors". My thinking was this. The addition of light to any colour makes it appear to be a lighter chroma than when light is subtracted (i.e. indoors). Therefore, chroma will look correct outdoors, but as soon as the same picture is viewed indoors it will appear dull. Indeed, this is the most obvious sign to the tutored eye, that a painting has been done outdoors. But why should this be? Surely it is possible to correct this somehow. By chance, I seemed to do this in my painting today. I'm not sure how I did it, but I'm going to try and figure it out, because I like brighter paintings.


  1. Nice work Ian and some interesting thoughts. I too have experienced exactly the same thing in the past. I call it the 'veil of drabness' that can descend on a work when it dries off and is viewed indoors. Simply becoming aware of the issue seemed to help enormously as I'm now keen to do what I can to avoid it. If that means pushing colours and tones a little further than I'd assume then so be it. I'm with you on brighter paintings. They can be instantly uplifting and I know I'd rather have them on my wall :o)

  2. Thanks for your positive comment David and also for confirming that this is a common problem. You also mentioned drying. Yes, I agree this seems to be an issue too. Despite all that is said about oil paints it seems that as the oil seeps into the substrate it takes some of the colour with it. I'm pleased to see you have overcome the 'veil of drabness', your recent Cornish cliff paintings in particular are absolutely fab.