Monet’s Haystacks Broken color refers to the technique of building up layers with different colors on the canvas in a way that allows previous layers to remain visible. This usually involves painting with small dabs of color, leaving gaps in between. The end result can appear like a vibration of color, as each edge and interaction of color causes a vibration that can excite the eye to jump around the painting. Weave One way to use broken color is to create optical color mixing, which is to put colors side by side, instead of mixing them together. Viewed from a far-ish distance, the colors visually mix. Viewed a bit closer up, the difference in colors visually pop and vibrate, giving the sensation or the impression of light. Think that vibrating colors are one of those made up arty things? Take a look at this red/green wrapping paper. See how the trees and green are visually jumpy? The colors vibrate, giving a sensation of light. Red and green are complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) so they vibrate together, and appear brighter than they would if they were separate, or converted to greyscale, as seen below. The grayscale version appears to have less vibration, and less light. The technique of broken color goes back as far as the practice of weaving color rich tapestries (1600’s), is mentioned in Michel Chevreul’s “A Colourist’s Guide to Margarine” (1839). It was highly utilized by the Impressionists, and is still popular in painting today. Ruthie V, Two Pears . Alex Katz painted by Chuck Close, Alex II (1989) Tom Thompson 1877-1017 One of the “Group of Seven” Canadian Painters Tom Thomson, The Jack Pine Notice how the colors in Tom Thomson’s Jack Pine refer to each other. The foreground colors (red, green, orange, purple) are the same as the sky colors (orange green purple), only the sky colors are organized like-to-like next to each other to quiet and decrease the contrasts between them, while the foreground colors are more saturated with more interactions from one to the other, causing them to pop forward a bit more, even though the sky is brighter. Notice too, how the underpainting was orange. You can see the orange peeking through each brush stroke. Imagine if the same painting was on white gesso. Not as good. Anni Albers 1899-1994 Detail of weaving by Anni Albers Anni Albers PS. I was joking about Chevreul’s Colourist’s Guide to Margarine, but only slightly.