Oscar Bluemner was interested in how pure color carried emotional and psychological impact. He painted with watercolors, tempera, and oil paints, and experimented with pushing the limits of the way each medium behaved. Somber and Hard exemplifies Bluemner’s skills as a colorist and technician. He used bold reds against a pale gray sky to emphasize the stark contrast of the sturdy buildings to the billowing clouds. Bluemner’s blocky buildings and simplified forms in Somber and Hard reveal the influence of his architectural studies and talents as draughtsman, as well as his awareness of Cubism. A master of expressive color in both oil painting and watercolor, Bluemner used an evocative title and striking color juxtaposition to emphasize the melancholic emptiness of modern industry.