When Neu­tral Color Func­tions as a Com­ple­men­tary

Adeste Deguilmo shares one method of paint­ing a har­mo­nious com­po­si­tion

International Artist - - Contents - Adeste Deguilmo

Adeste Deguilmo shares one method of paint­ing a har­mo­nious com­po­si­tion

Iwas trained to do re­al­ism as a fine arts stu­dent, but our paint­ing pro­fes­sor Martino Abel­lana was en­cour­ag­ing us to read more books on art be­cause the length of time in the train­ing that we were re­ceiv­ing was too short to have a proper ed­u­ca­tion in paint­ing. Af­ter school, I did ex­actly what he told us to do. I kept on paint­ing and also read books on arts and phi­los­o­phy, both Western and Ori­en­tal. Read­ing phi­los­o­phy helped me un­der­stand not only art but also my life, par­tic­u­larly my role as an artist. I re­al­ized that ul­ti­mately the no­ble func­tion of art is to nour­ish the soul. Thus, I have made it a point to be my goal.

Around 25,000 to 30,000 years ago, our an­ces­tors car­ried torches to light their way from the mouth of the cave to get into an area in­side where they could build a bon­fire and started paint­ing the walls and the ceil­ings of the cave. They were paint­ing mostly an­i­mals that were meant to be used as food for them. Cer­tainly, these pic­tures pro­vided hope and strength­ened their faith so the next day would some­how give them a bet­ter hunt­ing ad­ven­ture and pro­vide them a well-nour­ished meal.

Look­ing back at move­ments in art, from the clas­si­cal pe­riod to the mod­ern era, I some­how ob­served there have al­ways been ten­den­cies among artists to use ex­ag­ger­a­tion and dis­tor­tion, ei­ther in sub­tle or loud ways.

For in­stance, while the great Re­nais­sance master Michelan­gelo was us­ing the vo­cab­u­lary of clas­si­cism, he also in­jected in­tense emo­tions in his sub­ject, some­thing that was felt less in the works of the Greeks or the Ro­mans. In the fol­low­ing pe­riod of man­ner­ism, more dis­tor­tion is seen in the works of artists such as El Greco. The art of the Baroque pe­riod also dis­played the qual­i­ties of dis­tor­tion and this ten­dency per­me­ates through the rest of his­tory, re­cur­ring in dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods and move­ments. And in this pur­suit of dis­tor­tion, some tend to­ward a more sub­tle ap­proach while others may be very ob­vi­ous in their pre­sen­ta­tion.

As artists, these dis­tor­tions and ex­ag­ger­a­tions are done to ex­press our­selves

more clearly and more ef­fec­tively so the next per­son will be able to feel it the way we wanted it to be felt. From the start, we were al­ways striv­ing to be as close to na­ture as pos­si­ble, which we can only do to a cer­tain level, given our lim­i­ta­tions.

Artists deal with two kinds of na­ture: the na­ture that we are sur­rounded with and the na­ture that is within us. The lat­ter in­volves feel­ings and things in our dreams. Art moves par­al­lel to na­ture but it can never be na­ture.

My in­ter­est in rep­re­sent­ing the hu­man fig­ure has led me from re­al­ism to dis­tor­tion. I sought to ex­press the hu­man form with free­dom, with or with­out a model, to reach a cer­tain emo­tion that I wanted to achieve.

So, I am an artist who has ex­tended the re­al­is­tic style to ex­pres­sion­ism, thus max­i­miz­ing my artis­tic ex­pres­sion through the lan­guage of dis­tor­tion. In my ex­pres­sion­is­tic works, I did not use full color to sep­a­rate it from my nat­u­ral­is­tic style. In­stead, I dis­ci­plined my­self by work­ing with lim­ited palette. In such a con­strained si­t­u­a­tion, I can squeeze out my cre­ative juices more pro­foundly. My work is more monochro­matic in the gen­eral area of the paint­ing with a sud­den burst or spot of color to make a con­trast. With this, the drama is car­ried on from its value to the color of the paint­ing. It is im­por­tant that a neu­tral color au­to­mat­i­cally as­sumes the role of the com­ple­ment color of a chro­matic color when laid next to it to pro­duce har­mony.

Us­ing the ac­tual com­ple­men­tary color of a par­tic­u­lar color may ac­tu­ally be force­ful com­pared to if you use neu­tral color in­stead. Neu­tral color some­how makes the brain par­tic­i­pate in the mak­ing of the re­sults sub­tle in our vi­sion. You can use ei­ther of these two, us­ing your in­tu­ition to gauge the har­mony achieved.

The brain func­tions to com­pen­sate the short­com­ings that we ex­pe­ri­ence on many things the way we see. Here’s a lit­tle ex­per­i­ment. If you put a spot of red with a point of black color at the cen­ter of it on a white sheet of pa­per, stare at it for 25 sec­onds and pick up right away an­other piece of white pa­per with a point of black color at the cen­ter, star­ing at the black spot, you will au­to­mat­i­cally be able to see the af­ter im­age of the com­ple­men­tary of red, which is green.

The eye gets tired and au­to­mat­i­cally the com­ple­men­tary color in­ter­cedes in your vi­sion. As a re­sult, you will not have the right judg­ment of color, which is why it is a good ad­vice not to stare at a par­tic­u­lar color for a very long time, for ex­am­ple, the leaves of a tree when do­ing an on-site paint­ing. A glance at a color is the best way to judge a color. In judg­ing val­ues, just squint your eyes.

This is one of the many lessons that Michel-eu­gène Chevreul (1786-1889) was teach­ing in his book about the law of si­mul­ta­ne­ous con­trast in color. One of the mas­ters in­flu­enced by this book was Eu­gène Delacroix (1798-1863) who said, ”I can paint you the skin of Venus with mud, pro­vided you let me sur­round it as I will.”

We see things not as they are but we see them as we are, as hu­mans with lim­ited func­tion as far as vi­sion is con­cerned.

All of the lessons we learn in life are sub­ject to our taste and judg­ment. We may know it in prin­ci­ple, but can we ap­ply it? Here’s an­other words of wis­dom: “The only way to learn how to swim is to throw one’s body into the wa­ter.” Paint­ing is not an ex­emp­tion to this rule so we keep on prac­tic­ing and work­ing. That way we may be able to im­prove on the things that we’ve learned. In my demon­stra­tion, I tried to make my work sub­stan­tial to my ex­pla­na­tion.

Free­dom Song 2, mixed me­dia,48 x 48" (122 x 122 cm) These are peo­ple who sing out the emo­tion of free­dom. It also sig­ni­fies man’s eu­phoric joy at be­ing his own self, with­out hin­drance and re­straint. I started with acrylic and fin­ished the paint­ing with oil by ap­ply­ing it in opaque and glaz­ing some ar­eas in the paint­ing. I also used acrylic gold in the back­ground. Masking tapes and news­pa­pers were also used for cov­er­ing some ar­eas. The fo­cus is at the woman’s ex­pres­sive face.

The Dance of the Shoul­der Pole Peo­ple, mixed me­dia, 72 x 144" (183 x 366 cm)The paint­ing is about a sim­ple tool, the shoul­der pole that was and still is used widely by the peo­ple in Asia. It’s just a cel­e­bra­tion of this sim­ple item, yet am­pli­fied to make a bold state­ment about its im­por­tance. This was first done in mono­chrome, af­ter­ward the gold back­ground and color green fol­lowed. I ap­plied drip­pings us­ing glazes of oil paint.

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