Bob Baker — Going Old School

12 Feb

Bob Baker, Farm Near Evansville, Indiana – in Burnt Sienna, Naples Yellow and Cobalt Blue (2012)

Bob Baker, Gethsemani Abbey Grounds – in Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue (2012)

Note: click on any image to enlarge

Hello world!  These are my two latest paintings.  As you can see, I went “old school” on these two.  I stuck with a very limited color palette — what amounts to a Renaissance palette — to see what would happen.  The result is these two paintings.

As I’ve mentioned before, I try to walk a line between the chromatic exuberance of the Impressionists and the restraint of Barbizon School painters like Corot.  To bring myself closer to the Barbizon School, once in awhile I will paint things using a very limited color palette — emphasizing value and intensity over hue.  That’s what the old masters did, because they really had no choice: modern colors hadn’t been invented yet!

Whenever I do this I find that what I give up in color is almost always more than made up for in intensity of tonal value.  You’re forced to make some pretty dramatic contrasts when you paint with such a limited palette, because that’s basically all you’ve got to work with.

The top painting is a barn and house across the road from where my dad lives in Evansville, Indiana.  I’ve been by this place a bunch of times and never thought to paint it — sometimes the most familiar things go right past us.  The bottom painting is yet another scene from my trip to Gethsemani Abbey last year.  This was a pretty view from a hilltop looking across a valley at another hilltop, where the Trappists have set up a big cross that can be seen from all over the Abbey grounds.

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