View Full Version : Light and shadow help

09-14-2013, 12:19 PM
I purchased my first basic set of pastels for plein aire work because of their portability but lately I have also been working from photographs in the studio. I do a lot of landscape work and would really like to explore light and shadow. Is there anything on Wet Canvas that could help me?
I live about half way between Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio. Does anyone know of workshops within a reasonable distance from these places? Thanks

09-14-2013, 02:42 PM
Can`t help with workshops in your area. There is information here in WC for painting shadows -- http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=995782. Contained therein are many links to other resources dealing with Shadow and also Charlie`s little gem
The penumbra (diffused edge) of the cast shadows are warmer in colour than the cast shadow itself, regardless of the colour of the bg.
I wish that The Spotlight had it`s own directory; fastest way to find everything summarized, that I know of, is to find all threads started by DAK723 http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/search.php?exactname=1&do=process&starteronly=1&searchuser=DAK723. There is also D Secor`s online book about painting landscapes with pastels http://landscapesinpastel.blogspot.ca/2010/05/chapter-fifteen-shadows.html Have fun :)

09-14-2013, 03:04 PM
Not to try and beat my own drum, but we have explored light and shadow in our monthly activity thread - the aforementioned Spotlight! Thanks to our moderator, Deirdre, past Spotlight threads are now archived in the Soft Pastel Learning Center. Due to various glitches on the site, it isn't always easy to find it, so here's a link:


Lots of other informative threads are archived here as well!

We did a Spotlight on the Color of Light:


And also one on shadows:


There are also 6 links to James gurney's blog in the shadow lesson.

Hopefully these are helpful! Please keep in mind that these Spotlights reflect my opinions and what I have learned. There are certainly other opinions, methods, philosophies, and ideas out there!


P.S. I just noticed that my Spotlight on Shadows link is the same as the one given above. Thanks, Nell!

09-14-2013, 03:21 PM
You are very welcome, Don. I find your Spotlights to be valuable resources; though I lurk rather than participate know that I come back to them often when I'm looking for direction and answers.

09-17-2013, 06:26 PM

you write that you do a lot of landscape painting ...

what material(s) are you using now ?

as to pastel /pastel instruction in your area ,
look for local art groups , associations , galleries , colleges nearby .

' a basic pastel set ' --- well , what the hey ---- Do It !
there is that thing about being instructed
and figuring things out on your own , so ,
in the meantime ...

this Forum has good info .


09-21-2013, 12:56 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=527268 "Still Life the Colourful Way" by Colorix has a lot on light and shadow. Its central topic is color of course, but shadows and the color variations within them are covered in depth. The thread also periodically has index posts to the topics within and the exercises, it's well worth reading. I recall that penumbra comment!

There's loads of good information threads on light and shadow in pastels. Deborah Secor's online book is great for it too. Everything the others listed is excellent.

Also up in the "Drawing" Section is an entire online course with current volunteers teaching every aspect of drawing, there are "Shadows" topics in 101 classes and I think some advanced ones in 201 classes. Best to skim through the titles on that drawings one. But you can do any of its exercises with a pastel, a dark color one.

Sounds like you're well on your way with a first basic set and outdoor landscape emphasis! Starting from light and shadow is a great way to get everything else to come into focus. I've gotten so used to it that light and shadows are just part of what I see, I don't really look at "Things" any more without the light on them and their various types of shadows.

Sometimes it's fun to take dark paper and sketch just the lights, leaving the shadows and backgrounds implied. Or on light paper sketch just the shadows leaving it like an overexposed photo. Both are good light-and-shadow exercises.