Saturday, May 15, 2010

Say It With Shadows

Achieving the feeling of bright sunlight is dependent on saying the cast shadows dark enough. In this painting of a friend's closed up well, the background shadows illuminate the flowers, the cast shadow of the flower pot highlight the sun falling on the top of the well cover, the shadowed side of the well makes the watering can stand out, and the cast shadow on the ground show us a sunny day.

I've often said that everybody knows how to run a brilliant, clean, transparent light/first wash. It's the mid-value and dark washes that are harder to keep transparent and clean. The biggest mistake is not getting enough paint in a wet wash to clearly state the mid-values on the first attempt. Either there is enough paint but not enough water, resulting in an opaque looking wash; or there isn't enough paint to create a darker value, so the painter starts to paint harder, disturbing the wash underneath.

Practice is the only way to get the feel of how much paint to mix in the water so that you don't start scrubbing the clean wash underneath. Test a little area with a brushstroke and then, use the word "too" to determine what change to make. Too light? Add more paint. Too dark? Add more water. Too warm? Add a cool. Then make the brushstrokes strong and sure.

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