A few months ago my six year old granddaughter was not feeling well, so we got out her box of rocks that she had collected and built a spectrum. I was amazed that after I set the blue rock in the middle she could go through her collection and find a place for each of her rocks, even the 'grey' ones. Were they really grey or was there some green in them...which place did they land on the spectrum? I was amazed by how accurately she placed them. I may have helped her twice during the whole chain. Which goes to show that our eyes really can detect the colors in grey, the difference between skies with a hint of green in them and skies with a hint of purple as the climb over our heads and become warmer or as the shadow of a cloud.
After she built her spectrum we chose the ones that stood out the most if we closed our eyes and opened them. Which ones did we see first? Our first lesson in warm and cool colors. It was a concept I did not understand even after years of illustration, until I started painting outdoors. I would look at the illustrations I loved and not understand why the whole scene worked for me...how the trees receded in the distance, etc. I know my granddaughter has a grip on something already that took me over 50 years to learn. And I will never look at a small rock the same way again.
Now I just need to do the same thing with my neighbors collection of beach glass.
If you would like to read earlier installments of Painting The Sky, you can find them here.