Monday, July 22, 2013

Harmony with light

Sand Beach
Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux


The same light drapes itself on an entire scene. It was the lesson I taught my class through this painting. Light comes from one source, the sun and whatever time of day or weather condition you're trying to capture that single source illuminates it all. We all know golden hour, when for a brief time our surroundings become transformed and everything looks gilded. Golden light is draped everywhere.

The same is true for every type of light, every weather condition. It's just not as dramatic and probably harder to see.

Let's put this in terms for the artist. How do we apply this fact to our work?

Whatever color you choose to paint the light in one spot must be used to paint the light throughout. So if you decided to use a mixture of cadmium yellow, white and a dab of yellow ocher to highlight your brightest spots, then a bit of that same mixture should be added to all sunlit colors. Don't get this confused with your values (how light or dark an area is). I'm not saying you need to bring your colors to this same intensity, just add some of this same light to everything in sunlight. Here's one way to approach it. You may want to mix a little pile of cadmium yellow with your dab of yellow ocher without the white. That way you can easily add it to your other mixtures and then add as much lightener as you please to achieve the value you want.

It's the color of light you create that must drape itself on everything.

Your light could be a number of combinations. On a sunny day, it's usually the yellow combination you add to your white. Whatever you choose, be it lemon yellow, naples yellow, indian yellow, cad, ocher etc. Often this light you create might also include a bit of pink if you desire to warm it.  Be creative with your light! Don't paint every painting with the same combination. Weather conditions create different shades of light all the time. So if you're trying to capture what's actually around you, you'll need to adjust the combination of pigments in your highlights.

Just remember to add those same colors everywhere in your painting!

It's as easy as that to capture harmony with light.

So if you've shied away from experimenting with colors of light because you lose harmony, there's no need to fear it anymore. Have fun with the light. Play with the light. Just remember to make the same light kiss everything sunlit in your painting!

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Have a great day my friends and thank you so much for stopping by!


  1. Thanks for such a well described lesson on the color of the light source. Invaluable.
    Love your beautiful painting.

  2. You certainly used your knowledge of light to create a stunning piece! Wow! This captures that unique glow that surrounds us just before the sun disappears for the night. I love how you did this!

  3. Love your phrase 'light drapes itself on the entire scene'. And it certainly does that in this beautiful painting.

  4. Beautiful, soft golden light in this picture and it's so warm and soothing too! I feel that it's sometimes possible to "hear" a painting, I can hear the waves lapping when I look at this. Thank you for kindly sharing your knowledge,it's very helpful as I'm trying to learn all the time.

  5. Nice painting Susan, thanks for the refresher course. Perfectly explained!

  6. Beautifully painted, Susan! and a very informative post...I love the light hitting the water and amazing! wonderful work..

  7. Dans cette dernière peinture j'aime comment le soleil nous souhaite une bonne nuit en nous inondant de lumière dorée...
    Il se transforme en un marchand de sable et charge le monde de ses paillettes d'or pour mieux nous endormir.
    Et toi ma chère tu nous séduit avec cette dernière belle peinture et nous entraîne à la rêverie.
    Merci au professeur pour ces informations...

    Gros bisous

  8. Lovely painting and beautifully explained techniques. Always a pleasure coming to your blog, for there is something significant to learn and also to admire.

  9. wow, this is really lovely susan!! i just love how it makes me feel, so peaceful and the light is warm and serene, i can almost hear the waves lapping on the shore. and a great and informative post! wonderful advice!

  10. It's always a great inspiration to me to catch up on your blog, Susan. Thank you for the thoughtfulness and time you out into your blog posts! And for allowing us to feast our eyes on your gorgeous work!

  11. Quite lovely Susan! It's such a serene and radiant painting. Thanks for the tip.

  12. Beautiful light and color harmony.

  13. Interesting lesson, lovely painting.
    Hey I dropped by your regular website and that swan on the front page is dynamite!! WOW..
    I always learn or am reminded of something when I visit. -- thanks!!


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