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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