|Thesis | The World of Teruo Sato |Technique|3-Coler and Line
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3,  Color and Line

(1)  Introduction

   At the outset of work part, we cited image and world as the implements that a painter uses in painting a picture. These two are integrated in the field, and this is where an artwork is made. Then, the arrangement of object and setting is guided by image and world; here spatial recognition enters, completing the composition building.
   After the composition is set, the next thing a painter does is to use the medium and stick it on the support, starting with the actual creation. This does not mean that the compositional establishment necessarily precedes the actual creation. Sometimes an experimental act of synthesizing the medium may be done first, or it can be that a picture is set by Alla Prima.
   In such a case, the composition is gradually formed through the creation process. But no matter when the composition is established, its nature of guiding the selection and the arrangement of medium does not change.
    For a painter, composition is a design, and image and world are the instruments that are used to create it. In contrast, medium is an instrument that materializes the composition. It is combined with support, constituting the material form of the artwork. In this sense, as mentioned in the outset of work part, while image and world can be said to be the implements of the painter, medium and support are the instruments of the picture.
   A picture expresses form and color. Every form, in turn, is drawn by line, and consequently, a picture is made by lines and colors. Therefore, a painter uses medium as an instrument that relates to line and color.
   Thus, for a painter, medium has meaning only where it is related to line and color. Consequently, it can be said that for a painter, line and color are the essence of the medium. This can be paraphrased as the essence of the instrument of the picture. Hence, we shall first examine line and color that constitute the essence of the medium as an instrument of the picture.
   While composition is a framework of a picture design, it can be said that line and color are like numbers that decide the actual form of the design. Thus, they belong to the elements of composition. An artisan is interested only in medium and support, whereas a painter looks at the picture through the world. Therefore, an artist approaches medium through composition: in this case he/she starts from lines and colors, which are the essence of medium. The discussion below is ordered according to the understanding of picture from the point of view of an artist.

(2)  Color

@ Initial Remarks

   Apart from dessin, the usual order of drawing a picture is to first draw a sketch using line, and then complete by putting colors on it. Viewing from the goal, color decides the final form of the picture.
   An artist begins his/her creation after he/she is able to visualize to some extent this final form of his/her artwork. Therefore, in many cases, lines are preliminarily drawn for the final arrangement of color. We shall fist analyze color.
   The three attributes of color are: value, hue and chroma. Among these three, the fundamental elements are value and hue. Chroma is a synthetic concept of these two. Below, we first argue about Sato's value and hue, followed by a discussion about chroma that puts together these two elements.

A Value

   Value is the degree of sensorial stimulation that is affected by the amount of light, and can be universally recognized by any living being that possesses a visual organ. Human being can perceive it from an early stage of infancy as well. In contrast, hue is the capacity to recognize the frequency of light, and can be perceived only by special kinds of living beings.
   Among the three attributes of color, value is the one that most strongly reflects a painter's world-view. The decision about value in a picture depends on the location of the light source in it. The source of light is represented materially in the form of sun or electric light inside a picture, but symbolically, it represents where God or human's reason resides. The darkness created by it emphasizes sin or human ignorance.
   These reflect the world-view that relates to the painter's religious belief and his/her deep human-view. If, for example, a painter believes in the concept of original sin and God's salvation, value is set so that humans are surrounded by darkness and a sort of penetrating light descending from the sky above.
   Sato did not hold any kind of Christian belief. Therefore he did not believe in original sin, and hence the setting of his portrait is never filled with darkness. In Sato's portrait, the model, in most cases, was inside his bright atelier where a fluorescent light was always turned on. This light did not have anything to do with God; it was  the symbol of the vision that was guided by the reason of Sato, who was the absolute existence inside a picture.
   Land scenery, too, is placed under a brilliant sunlight. In works that are his self-projection, such as pictures of a horse race or of a tree, sunlight becomes a blessing of himself. Sea, for Sato, represented the pure nature and a substitute of God, and hence its expression varied. It might be clouded or stormy at times, but the sunlight is never covered up.

Light in Autumn
Light in Autumn ; 1994

   Light, in Sato's work, is the symbol of vision of Sato's reason, who was the God, or the absolute existence; hence, it directs from the foreground to the background of a picture. His light never comes from above or behind. As in "Light in Autumn ", even if a light is placed in the left side, it is merely a supplementary illumination of a bigger light that comes from a fluorescent lamp in the foreground. (This was a tentative work driven by Sato's ambitious experiment of drawing a mixture of two light sources.)
   Most of Sato's work was drawn with great amount of light shining from the foreground. In his atelier, dozens of fluorescent lamps were installed: in this way, the direction of light could be freely changed. He did not use natural light sources but attempted to produce a slightly clouded natural light, using a fluorescent lamp. This was the kind of light that emphasized and drew the most the beauty of Japanese women, he said.
   But Sato also said that a strong sunlight was unnatural. Its reason was in his world-view, that is, that a strong sunlight could bring about an existence that transcended Sato.

   As described in the person part, in pictures of nude with single object and fixed composition, Sato changed the subjective element of composition in varied ways. Thus his model took various poses while the direction of light that followed Sato's course of vision did not change.
   Therefore, the object is illuminated from the front and most of its part becomes bright. In such a case, shadow plays a merely accentual role. That is to say, the shadow of an object in his work is present only as narrow-width darkness, such as the ones that outline a complete etude. Thus, a pure black seldom appears in his picture.
   Therefore, a paint such as Ivory Black was never placed on his palette. Instead, he created black by mixing Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Deep. By adjusting their proportion, warm and cold black were made, adding expression to shadow. This is because an object's shadow in Sato's work is an accent, and because he used, in little amount, a variety of blacks according to the type or setting state of an object. (But in case of pastel, pure black was used because of the limitation in the mixture of colors.)
   In this way, his use of the black and his peculiar way of drawing shadow all derive from his world-view and his way of composition building. These are also derived from his intuition as an artist. Sato only said that "shadow has as many expressions as an orchestra does" or that "black has no use except to draw a dark night crow", and he was not aware of their significance in terms of world-view.
   Also, when drawing a human body as object, Sato started drawing from the brightest part, when the usual order was to leave the bright part to the end. Except for parts with a strong highlight, he often drew the shadow last. This was so because the object was fully exposed to light and high value color became the dominant color of an object.
   White is a very important color in Sato's work, but his consciousness about this color was very rough. As for Titanium White, which can create varied expressions of white, he avoided it with the reason that it is too white. Then he accepted Silver White, which can even turn yellow in dark places, because he gave priority to its capacity of making strong layers. (Sato created gray by mixing Burnt Umber, Sliver White and Ultramarine Deep, but as well known, the mixture of the last two colors causes discoloration of black. But for Sato who liked heavy tones of color this discoloration was acceptable.)

The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself
The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself ; 1970

   The situation is a bit different in "The Token on Wilderness inside of Myself", which is not an opened picture but an integrated picture. It is an expression of Sato's inside and hence material sun does not exist. Also, the source of light can never be located above or behind the object, because there is no room for a symbol of God to be introduced here. Therefore, in order to express his world-view, Sato implemented a peculiar value setting by making light come from the side.
   As pointed out in the person part, in works that directly inherit the composition and the picture philosophy of this particular picture, clouds are introduced in the background and the universe that is implied in the background is gradually transformed into a scenery that is sealed and bound to the earth. Then, as if reacting to this transformation, the source of light is also raised to the frontal, slant upper position and is approximated to Sato's course of vision. But in an integrated picture that shows his inner world, light can never coincide fully with his vision.
   As mentioned above, value setting is where the symbol operation penetrates most strongly, and moreover, it has a universal nature. Anyone attributes godhood, glory and ideal to a bright light, and something opposed to them to darkness. In value setting, the most important thing is to read its meaning in terms of the painter's world-view.
   In addition to its importance in terms of one's world-view, value influences the screen composition of a picture. The most important of this function concerns the decision on the center of gravity. The so-called psychological effect of color, which will be described later on, works here: the higher the value is, the stronger is its power to raise an object or area drawn in the picture.
   Bright objects float up and dark ones sink. This was Sato's aim when he emphasized the weight effect of an object by dropping its value. With such an effect, the painter can, for example, drop the value of the upper part of the canvas and raise it on the lower part, creating an impression that the picture is gathering at the center. An opposite value setting would make the picture disperse in vertical direction.
   In Sato's landscape work, setting is often made so that the picture concentrates at the center. Thus, sky becomes dark and land and sea becomes bright. However, in "Rough Sea near Sado Island", "Before Tempest", "The White Crest" and "Time and Tide", for example, where the vibrant energy of the sea is to be expressed, whitecaps are drawn also near the horizon, raising the center of gravity. He was quite flexible concerning the value setting of a sea surface.

Rough Sea near Sado Island
Rough Sea near Sado Island ; 1984
Before Tempest
Before Tempest ; 2001
The White Crest
The White Crest ; 1999
Time and Tide
Time and Tide ; 2000

   Sato's sea is composed by a contrast between the whitecaps and the dark, cold-colored water surface. The value gap between these two is significant. He manipulates the center of gravity of the whole sea by arranging the whitecaps and the water surface. This arrangement is made in various ways: whitecaps can be increased in a distant point, giving a lively movement to the whole (as in "The White Crest"); it can be increased in the middleground, concentrating energy in this area (as in "Wave near Sado Island B"); or it can be increased in the foreground, giving stability to the picture (as in "Genkai" (The Sea between Korean Peninsula and the Japan Islands `Invitation from Oriental Deism`)).

The Wave near Sado Island B
The Wave near Sado Island B ; 1987
The Sea between Korean Peninsula and the Japan Islands
@`Invitation from Oriental Deism` ; 1999

Evidea on Fabric Gold
Evidea on Fabric Gold ; 2001
Okano, the Tenpura Cook
Okano, the Tenpura Cook ; 1980

   In the case of portraits of complete etude, the model, drawn slightly dark, is surrounded by white papers and canvas' surface that act as setting. (For instance "Evidea on Fabric Gold") In this way, the contrast effect, which will be mentioned later on, works and gives the object more darkness and hence more sense of weight.
   In portraits of incomplete etude and of opened picture, it often happens that the object is bright and its surrounding is dark. (For instance "Okano, the Tenpura Cook") This arrangement raises the object up. A reason for this may be that, as mentioned in person part, he may try to make people in his atelier or close to it live through his own life energy, and this paternalistic love is incorporated in the picture. Thus, value setting is strongly influenced by Sato's world-view.
   In self-portrait type pictures, the surrounding of the model (i.e., himself) or the upper half of the picture is given high value. (For instance "Giant in the Forest") This represents the praise of himself, who possessed the nobility of God. By this value setting, Sato made himself God in the picture.

Giant in the Forest
Giant in the Forest ; 1995


View ; 1980
At Dawn after Storm
At Dawn after Storm ; 1981
Reminiscence ; 2002

  Also, as pointed out in the person part, Sato was overwhelmed by the scenery in front of his eyes in "View". This psychological state, too, is shown by the value setting. In this picture, the source of light was put on the frontal left part, where Sato's vision directs to. This suggests a transcendental existence.
   In "At Dawn after Storm", a light perpendicular to sea is depicted. This also suggests a transcendental existence. On the other hand, the light on the beach is drawn close to the foreground, where Sato seemed to be trying to recover his reason. However, these two are the exceptions in matter of value setting.
  Moreover, in "Reminiscence" which became his last tableau work, Sato arranged a pure white on the shoes of the model.
  This white, through the shoes, draws the model to the foreground. Not only this, in this picture we need to pay attention to the paintbrushes with white gripes nearby the left center, and the white color of the reflection of light on the upper arm of the model.
  The three white spots form a triangle of light reflection, which raises the viewerfs awareness of a light that emanates from above. This light does not imply a transcendental existence but is higher than Satofs course of vision, which makes us suspect about his intention to overcome his ordinary reasons.

   Value carries most strongly the meanings in terms of world-view and is decided by the location of light source, hence its nature is the most objective among the three attributes of color. Therefore, it is consequential that Sato emphasized value the most, for he made thorough literal pictures, that is, objective depictions. Sato said about the attributes of color that "brightness and darkness are the basis of color. Other attributes hang over it". This expresses vividly the emphasis he put on value.

\ Written, summarized and translated by Taketoshi Murayama\         \ Original translation is rewritten by Chigusa Tanzawa \

This text must not be translated into any other languages without author's permission.

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