August 10, 2016

Capturing the Light

This is my most recent studio piece, a 30X40" oil of a scene captured in the Great Bear Rain Forest, northern BC. I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk to you  creating the illusion of light.

I often hear this question from students:  "Why can't  I get the light into my paintings?".  It is what many artists yearn for and often find baffling.  There is this wonderful alchemy that can created by the juxtaposition of paint mixtures on canvas that can create the amazing illusion of light.

 I have good news and bad news for those of you that pose this question.  The good news is that capturing the illusion of light in your paintings is really pretty simple.  The bad news is that simple does not mean easy.

Light dances, bounces and leaps.  It is the most ephemeral of elements in the landscape. It describes form, atmosphere, and surface within the structure of your painting.  Here's the simple part:  get the color, value, and temperature relationships right, and you have captured the light.  Viola.  Presto.  Abracadabra.

Here's the part that is not easy:  you have to get them VERY right.  Comparing the relationships between these elements and transferring those observations on to your canvas takes a good eye (which comes from practice)  and a great deal of focus.  If  the tonal value is not quite right, it won't read.  If color temperature is off, you will miss the mark also.

  Painting well takes as much effort and concentration as your best chess game.  If you want to get better at it,  you must bring your "A" game level of effort and concentration to your painting sessions.  And practice....a lot.  There is no way to escape the easel hours required.

  Hold the results lightly; if you get it wrong,  your eye will tell you.  Try to articulate what it is you got wrong and repaint  rather than indulging in self-deprecation which is a luxury you can't afford.  It will drain you of your mojo.

Pay attention to what you are seeing and what you are doing,  and the Force shall be with you. Always.


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