Behold the Ruby!

by Kathleen Huebener in Painting Tips
Many artists use the red filter as one of their vital tools in creating values. My red filter, the Ruby Beholder, is among my most valuable art tool treasures. Using the Ruby Beholder enables the artist to magnify the principle of values even further. What does a Ruby Beholder look like?
This is a Ruby Beholder.
The Ruby Beholder is a thick red filter plastic used also in quilting and sewing circles. In quilting, the empty square on the top is to compare various cloths for values. I mainly use the red filter portion in my paintings. The next question is how do I use it?
To begin, let us look at a bouquet of flowers.

Because this floral piece is beautifully arranged and pleasing, the thought that commonly plagues artists creeps in. What thought? That thought of “Don’t touch it! Don’t do anything more! You will ruin it!“ just might persuade the artist to stop here.

However, to improve this painting, it is possible to drive the creative process of selecting values even further. We simply must see the painting through other eyes.
For this purpose, I use my Ruby Beholder.
Demonstration of the use of the Ruby Beholder
First, let us concentrate on three large flowers, two turquoise in the upper center and right, and the one purple, in the center.
Note their values compared with the yellow flowers.
Which flowers seem to pop out at you?
Yes, the yellow pops out! Using the Chevreul’s Principle of Simultaneous Contrast
to describe this retinal action, or the juxtaposition/ push-pull effect,
the warm or light colors come forward and the darks or cool colors recede.

Next, I take my Ruby Red and view this portion.

The view may seem blurred and out of focus, but this works for the benefit of the artist. Less detail and more noticing of shapes and values are favorable benefits. Notice the relationship of the three flowers now. It is amazing to find that the turquoise flowers have become darker, almost indistinguishable, while the purple stands out amidst them. The values of these three flowers are closer on the value scale than I desire. In addition, where is the contrast of the darker values?

After these observations, I decided to use the Ruby Beholder to make some significant changes in values.
For darkening, I laid some washes of Atelier French Ultramarine Blue over the turquoise flowers. I lightened up the value of the purple flower.
I also added more contrast to tickle the eyes.

I like the dramatic appearance of the painting when viewed through the Ruby Beholder.

Are you curious on how this portion looks without the Ruby Beholder?

My painting explodes with more life and more depth, all because I looked through other eyes via use of the red filter. Isn’t life as an artist EXCITING! VavavaVoom!

If you are interested in experimenting with red filters, I highly recommend this Ruby Beholder. You can find them online or at any quilt or sewing stores.

I bought mine at Connie’s Quilt Shop at 785 8th Street, in Marion, Iowa. A few years ago, the cost was around five dollars and worth every cent.

I use mine so much that I tied a ribbon through it and wear it around my neck for easy access when I paint.

I am always amazed how much of a difference the use of my Ruby Beholder makes in my paintings.

To me, it is as precious as a genuine ruby!