Some thoughts on ‘local color.’ ‘Local color’ is a limited term artists use to indicate something that has a strong object color, like a green tree or a red shirt. We wouldn’t say concrete has a local color, but would probably resort to calling it ‘gray’ regardless of the light as it’s quite subtle. If a red shirt is lying on concrete, we’re seeing them both according to the quality of the light. They have different reflective qualities resulting in different ‘local’ object color, but if the light changes, both the strong ‘red’ and the subtle ‘gray’ will change to the same degree.
When we’re taught painting, light is often broken down into multiple parts to better understand the complexity - value, local color, light source, intensity, etc. So when you go to paint a red shirt, you might mix a red (local color) with say a yellow (light source). For the concrete, you might just mix a gray and add a little yellow to account for the light. These formulas create colors that have no relation to each other. They don’t exist in the same space, and the expression of light becomes localized and value-based. The problem as I see it is that art schools and workshops never put these parts back together; we forget they’re all parts of the same thing - perceived light.
‘Local color’ makes us think of objects, strong paint pigments, and not light. The weaker an object’s ‘local color,’ the easier it might be to see the color of the light. Gray is very nuanced but still expresses something specific. Local color isn’t important - its relation to everything else is. ‘Yellow’ doesn’t have to mean YELLOW like the flowering bushes on the left in the painting above, it can mean the color of the sidewalk, which isn’t haphazard but is related to work with everything else in the piece. Local color is just color that’s easier to name.