Because I like colours and strong colours at that, I’ve found that the light that you experience a colour in can make a very big difference to your sensation of that colour. Sometimes the light in an environment can make the colours feel richer, stronger, brighter and more affective. Colours come alive when bathed in certain lights.
For that reason, every colourist that wants to enhance the way that they perceive and paint with colour should consider visiting places like these:
1. The South of France, especially the Mediterranean Coast, Arles, Avignon, the Luberon, Aix en Provence and Apt. When you experience the blueness of a summer sky setting off the brilliant yellow of fields of ripening sunflowers, you will immediately grasp why Van Gogh painted the way he did, when he was there. Cézanne will no longer be mysterious to you either. Apt once had a thriving pigment industry, with ochres mined from the local landscape. No wonder.
2. The East Coast of Australia. Here the sun always shines (or so it seems), the sea is an amazing shade of Pacific Ocean blue and the sky can be infinite. The rocks and trees are muted and browned. Some of my favourite paint makers and colours hail from Australia – Atelier Interactive and Matisse Structure have particularly interesting colour ranges. Great colours, inspired by a colourful landscape.
3. Central Australia. There is no landscape that does ochres and red rocks quite like this. The colours simply burst out all over you. With the changes in weather and growing conditions for the flora, you can often be very surprised. My brother used to be a tour guide taking groups of tourists to Uluru by bus. His photographs of these trips are simply stunning.
4. Southern California. It was because of the constant high colour temperature light that Hollywood was originally located in Southern California, before film makers had decent artificial lighting and exquisitely sensitive film stock with which to create cinematographic masterpieces. The landscape and the sea have amazing colours and the sunrises over the ocean at Santa Barbara can be utterly spectacular. My friend posts photographs of these on Facebook regularly and they never fail to impress.
5. Andalucia. The name means light. High contrast landscapes with brilliant white habitations, capped with Terracotta roofs. You have to see it to experience it.
6. Greece. The old stones of Athens catch the light and change to rich shades of subtle oranges and pinks in the sunset. The colours sometimes almost feel too saturated.
Other places I haven’t been (yet), but want to see:
7. Tuscany. If the reports are accurate (and why wouldn’t they be?), the light and colours in this landscape are truly unique and truly sensual.
8. Morocco. Like an exotic spice rack. Warm colours and vibrant colours abound, or so I am told.
There are probably many more places like these, but colourists really need to experience the sensual pleasure of all-encompassing colours infusing their entire field of vision, all the way to the periphery, so bright and pure that they leave a lasting memory in your mind forever. Do it for the sheer joy of it. Do it for the decadence. Bathe in the colours.