This busy market scene in the Italian city of Palermo provided David with an irresistible subject. There were so many plus factors. It was seething with bustle and activity, and the cool shadows of the narrow street showed up the rich, colorful foreground produce to perfection. The umbrellas were very important, providing a light area against the dark tones of the buildings. It was also an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of lost and found edges. Throughout the picture the eye can lose itself in soft wet-into-wet areas, while in others sharp edges dominate. In this painting David used eight colors — Raw Umber, Cadmium Orange, French Ultramarine, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Hookers Green and Sepia.
After the initial drawing, broad background shapes help to set and establish a great deal of surrounding interest, which is so important in these early stages of a painting. The umbrellas on the right needed to be identified early in the work, as did the outline of the figures. You will notice that this stage is painted using fairly cool colors.
The first cool colors are enhanced with advancing warm colors, still leaving lots of white paper to add to the freshness. Notice how some edges drift into others, linking the painting together. The figures are now indicated with strong, rich color. The lost and found edges of the vegetables are placed in the foreground.
In this final stage you will notice how all the darks have been added, giving necessary depth to the work. All the tones, from the white of the paper to the darkest dark, make it satisfyingly complete.
Inside looking out, Padua,
Here we're looking into the dazzling light of a sunny day from the deep shadows of a huge arcade. One very interesting point here, is that the head of the lady on the bicycle is shown hard and sharp, contrasting against the dark building, while the bicycle gradually disappears into softness. The same thing happens at each side of the picture to the objects in the foreground, which soften off into the shadows of the buildings. The shadow across the foreground area is interesting, too. It contains wet-into-wet, and dry brush, lost and found, as well as many colors to entertain the eye. Look also at the high key painting of the buildings outside, and the economy of stroke used to suggest them.
Many of the paintings in this chapter are of open country and woodland scenery and, of course, the lost and found technique lends itself very well to this type of subject. However, it works equally as well in the portrayal of buildings in towns and cities. In fact, once mastered, it can be used for any subject, from landscape to portraiture, seascape to still-life. Take the paintings on this page for instance. The eye is constantly teased by the mystery of "now you see it, now you don't".
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