December 1, 2012

Painting Bounced Light and Color

Reflections on Red 6X8"          

This is a demo painting from my "Skill Building Essentials..." workshop last weekend.  I had a keen bunch of painters in the studio for four days and wow - did they work hard!  I am happy to report that they all survived the experience.


Among the lessons covered, were some basic observations on painting bounced light and color.  The most typical difficulty that students encounter is seeing the bounced color against the neutral of a shadow side of an object (in this case the onion) and thinking it to be more saturated (intense) color-wise and lighter tonally than it actually is.


The result is that the bounced light and color doesn't "read" right.  Most usually it appears that there is a light source from both above and below.  I tell my students that it is pretty easy to tell when you have gotten it wrong in much the same way that you can tell when a flat or sharp is missed in a piece of music;  the trick is in knowing how to identify and correct the problem.


To illustrate what I mean notice how the reflection of the lit side of the lemon on to the shadow side of the onion is a less pure, or less saturated, and slightly darker mixture than what appears on the actual lemon.  If you are having trouble seeing this, just squint down and it will be more obvious to you.  Another trick to help you see more clearly is to look through a "'peek hole".  Put a 1/4 " in diameter hole into a mid tone grey piece of mat board.  Close one eye and compare what you see on the object to what you have just painted.  You shall see the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

It's that simple.  Simple, but not easy.

Keep those paint brushes wet.


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