The primary colors red, yellow and blue form a triangle on a circular color wheel. Our eyes perceive colors as more vibrant when any two colors that are directly opposite from one another on the circle are placed adjacent to each other. For example, when a shape of red is placed next to a shape of green (green is a combination of yellow and blue that lies directly opposite red on the circle) it can almost seem as if the edge is vibrating.
Using opposing colors was one of the considerations for this piece: explore what happens in a painting when a bright red pepper is surrounded by a green background. Looking at the painting, it might seem as if the red pepper in the lower right and the reddish copper pot are three-dimensional and sit above the two-dimensional surface of the canvas. Compare this to the pepper in the upper left. The appearance of depth is diminished because its color is less red.
In addition to color, the placement of objects was also a part of the thinking behind the composition. In this case, the idea was to play with verticality: how to create an arrangement that would lead the eyes of the viewer to move around the painting. Perhaps you will notice your gaze moves from the central object, the copper pot, to the red pepper at the bottom, and then back again toward the upper left corner?
In a practice of artful awareness, paying attention to how your eyes move across a scene may guide you toward becoming more aware of your sense of vision and of what you are seeing in your day to day life.
Hot Red Peppers, original oil on canvas, 20″ x 8″
Original paintings and prints by Seamus Berkeley.