Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sun versus shade

From the Shade
Original oil painting 14x18"
by Susan Roux

My weeks been crazy. I've been running around everyday and it won't stop until after the weekend. I suppose you all get weeks like this too. I find myself wishing I had three days of solitude to just paint...

Thank goodness for my classes, at least they force me to stop and pick up a brush!

I finished From the Shade with my afternoon class yesterday. I chose this scene so we could focus on shade versus sunny passages within a painting. We took a very different approach than usual. I had them block in the shady foreground area, in monotone, to remind them that everything they developed in this section needed to be in shade. Any color they placed within this area, if it looked sunny, needed to be changed. The class stayed focused on this idea. I find if you simplify things enough, everyone can easily understand what you're trying to get them to achieve.

It proved to be an extremely successful approach. Everyone's paintings leaped with sun and shade.

I decided to try this approach with a few of my other classes. I thought you might like to see the odd beginnings. With the painting posted, we began working on the light area, because it was further back. In the following two, the background is deep and in shade. I'm finding it challenging keeping the students from painting too much light. The photos we're working from have beautiful sunlit flowers in the foreground. They want to paint the light, but as you can see, I'm holding them back.

Its been a great way to have them recognize the difference between foreground, middle ground and background. This painting has yellow flowers against a fence post. In the photo the middle ground was sunlit as much as the foreground. I worked with them to keep it toned down so our final subject will appear to leap forward. Getting them to paint the feeling of sunlit foliage while keeping it subdued and void of detail was a bit unsettling for them. By the end of class this week, they had finally managed to capture this look and they left happy. I've been pushing them pretty hard lately. This class has been painting only a year and the results I get from them are pretty amazing.

My Wednesday night ladies were very happy with the new photo I chose for them. A sunlit garden makes this entry so inviting. Unfortunately I didn't let them paint any of the fun stuff. Keeping them in the darks to capture the house in shadow was difficult. It felt like we were painting a Halloween painting, the haunted house...

Keeping everyone's values in check has been tough. I think after these paintings are done, they'll understand how it all worked and it'll be easier to keep them in the dull deeps next time. Frustration was a visible emotion, but by class end, they had captured the deepness I was proposing. Another group left happy. Its not always easy to do. Especially when you push them out of their comfort zone.

I've been preparing a list of which paintings my students will exhibit in December. I want to know how long they were painting when they did the piece they chose. Its been astounding to us all when I get told 4 months or 6 months or even it was my second painting. It makes me step back in surprise at the achievements they've accomplished. I'm so proud of my students. I'm going to be thrilled to show them off in December!


  1. j'aime cette recherche de l'ombre- soleil..!
    beau !

  2. Susan, your painting From The Shade is quite lovely! You're an exception to the rule, "those that can't do--teach!" YOU can do!

  3. Thank you for leading us through the teaching process and I think your painitng is lovely.

  4. Susan, this painting, "From the Shade" left me speechless. It's beautiful..the red flowers is outstanding as the light in the distance. Perfect.

  5. Hi Susan, I love the yellow flowers and fence piece. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi Susan. I'm accepting your invite to introduce myself. I just found your blog from Hilda's- lucky me!!

    Your paintings are very beautiful. I'm just starting with acrylics- maybe come offer some advice sometime.

  7. Olá vim conhecer seu blog e adorei. Suas pinturas são lindas. Vou te seguir. Bom fim de semana. Se desejar será muito bem vinda. Abraços.

  8. Thank you for sharing this information. Sounds like a wonderful class.

  9. A good teacher learns more from his or her students than they do from the teacher!

    WOW... what a great job you've been doing!!!

    And never a dull moment for you, huh???

  10. Another marvellous marvellous post Susan I got so much from this one thank you again.

  11. Bravo... et je pense que tes élèves doivent être heureuses de tout ce que tu leur apportes... Bisous

  12. Susan, You achieved it all in this painting. It should sail out of the galleries! I always enjoy your commentary, you make life sound like an interesting novel. Cannot wait to read the next chapter.

  13. "From the Shade" is lovely: very strong painting and composition.

  14. Suzan, você acertou em cheio neste trabalho.
    Simples, harmônico, iluminado.
    Um abraço
    Antonio Machado


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