X hits on this document

PDF document

Painting with Color Scales - page 1 / 7





1 / 7

Painting with Color Scales

I came to painting rather late in life; indeed I had been a serious, practicing musician for over 40 years when I first even attempted to draw with a pencil. So when I finally took up painting, I was very eager to bring as much as possible of my knowledge and experience as a musical artist over to my practice as a visual artist. At the time, I had just seen an exhibition of Synchromist paintings by Stanton Macdonald-Wright, and I felt that his use of “color scales” was a perfect way to tap that reservoir of ability. So, at least in some of my work, I have adopted the color-scale approach to painting. In this article, I will give a very brief sketch of the history and basic elements of Synchromism, followed by a more in-depth description of one of those elements: color scales. Then I will explain how I have extended those principles to create a Neosynchromist style.


Synchromism was an art movement based on the concept of painting "with color". The movement had only two members, Americans Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973) and Morgan Russell (1886-1953). Their first showing of Synchromist paintings was in Munich in 1913. Russell abandoned Synchromism in 1916; Wright, however, painted many of his most compelling canvases in the late teens and 20s, holding to the Synchromist principles into the early 1930s. He remained a color-painter throughout his life and returned to use of color-scales (see below) in his later years.

The basic elements of Synchromism are:

  • 1.

    Use of color alone to define form and space, based on the well-known psycho-visual phenomenon that warm colors (red, orange, yellow) appear to advance and cool colors (green, blue, violet) to recede in the visual field.

  • 2.

    Application of "color-scales", directly related to musical scales, to create the color scheme, and thus, the emotional impact in a painting. More on color scales follows below.

3. Form based on the "principal rhythm", also called the "hollow and bump", consisting of 2 contraposed curves, expressed as ( ). This

fundamental physical tension is reiterated over and over in synchromist work.

Copyright (c) 2007 Joey Howell. All rights reserved.

Document info
Document views13
Page views13
Page last viewedSun Oct 23 07:51:43 UTC 2016