View Full Version : How to paint realistic shadows in sunlight

Deborah Secor
02-12-2008, 12:46 AM
I'm not here to teach anything, I just thought maybe we could discuss shadows (outdoors, not those made by a lamp). I just found a post on a blog that made me think about shadows with a bit of a different twist, maybe more of an iteration of something I've observed before but not stated so clearly.

It was James Gurney (of Dinotopia fame), who stated:

Most of the time we think of shadows as blue. Surfaces in shadows do tend toward blue if they are facing upward beneath an open stretch of sky. We can make a general rule if we hedge it a bit: “Upfacing planes in shadow are relatively blue on a sunny day.” But planes in shadow that face downward are different because they pick up the warm reflected color of illuminated surfaces below them. So let’s revise that quick rule of thumb about the color of shadows: “In shadows, upfacing planes are cool, and downfacing planes are warm.“

What do you think? I've sure seen it.... good observation, IMHO!

Anyone want to add their own observations about shadows to this one?


Donna A
02-12-2008, 02:02 AM
Hi! Yes! Great subject, Deborah! The color of shadows is all about the color of the light source plus the total ambient light. I had a good grin some time ago when someone said with some sense of lovely naive exasperation---why does everyone always paint plein air landscapes with blue shadows on sunny days????? Cuz of the warm color of the sunlight and the full spectrum ambient light. When the warm sunlight floods the area with its warm light, that area that can not receive the warm light (the cast shadow areas along with the form shadows of objects) will look particularly cool by comparison since it is receiving cool colors of light as well, including the reflected coolness of the sky.

This can be similarly recreated in the studio with an incandescent spot light with a full spectrum of light available in the whole area. It's really pretty exciting what can happen with colors!

The color of the light sources are the key! My awareness of this began when my twins (who will be 45 tomorrow!) (opps---today) went to kindergarten and I could actually take a "long hot soaky" in the bathtub in the daytime for the first time in the house we'd moved to nearly 3 years earlier. I was lounging there (with bubbles!) when I noticed that the chlorox bottle fixed to hold the rubber duckies and hanging on the towel rack was casting two very different shadows at very different angles---and two very very differnt colors!!!! One violet-ish and the other rather orangey! (On 'band-aid colored' tile.) Hmmmmmm. This was a real Twilight-Zone experience! HOW in the world could there be different colors for the shadows??? Shadows are shadows! Right??? Naw! Hmmmmm! Got out of the wonderful, warm, comfy bubble bath and flipped off the overhead incandescent light. Hmmmmm. The blue shadow went away. But the orangey shadow remained. Weird! Fascinating!!!!

So then I went streaking thru the house for a large magazine or newspaper to hold up over the other light source---a high round little north window in the bathroom. I covered it up---and the orangey shadow disappeared. More hmmmmm!

Of course I went searching for more info. Nuthin' where painters were concerned. But I found marvelous information about the color of light from photographers' material. The color of light greatly affected the colors that came out on film! Turns out, our eyes are a bit less sensitive to the variations in the different colors of light. We just seem to accept whatever lighting conditions we are in at the time. We really have to train our eyes to note the luscious varieties and how they affect any thing we might be looking at.

Well that lovely bathtub experience was just the beginning of my study of the color of light and how we can use it in our paintings! It has been such a fascinating journey---and something that is grounded in physics and reality. When we learn how to use it, it's marvelous! Magnificent! And I have found it very exciting for---hmmmm---maybe about 40 years. Yikes! :-)

Observation. A marvelous ally! And some lovely understanding of what actually happens! That is how I have a sense of "how to paint realistic shadows in sunlight!" Very best wishes! Donna ;-}

02-12-2008, 02:31 PM
:) Hi,

I've got a story too, of *really* discovering colour of light and shadow. I've had that bathroom experience too, and I guess one is actually sitting still, just looking, not reading, not watching TV, so one *sees* things.

OK, my story: One of those extremely rare really hot days I was wilting seriously, had a lie down, too tired to read. So I was looking at the 'highly exciting' plain white ceiling... when I discovered gloriously shimmering bands of colour leaking in over the curtains, painting the ceiling in many transparent colours! It was reflected light, passing through blinds too. All kinds of hues, greenish yellowish closest to window, and then bluish and purplish and a very vivid magenta! I hardly could believe it.

It makes sense that shadows have colour, if one think of them as being made of weaker light. (Light, because we would not see a thing in the shadows if there wasn't light, right?) So they are darker, but as colourful.

Another experience was with artificial light, in the dark of night. Now, in winter, the dark of night here occurs just after 3 pm, and I was in a parking lot outside a store. There were some kind of floodlights that were very reddish orange in light, so the shadows on that lot were pure turquoise!

The *really* realistic colour of a shadows on a sunlit day consist of:
a) colour of the light (time of day, and latitude)
b) colour of the object(s)
c) reflected light
d) degree of refraction, from atmospherical conditions

"Colour of the light" in 'a' includes the colour of the light from the sky.

Anyway, we don't have to go into subtractive and additive colour systems, we have eyes, so we can just look at a shadow and see what colour bias it has, and it may become easier if we compare with other colours in our field of vision.

The quote in Deborah's post is a good guide to help one remember to really *look* for and to *see* the changes of colour.

And in California and Florida shadows may be magenta!

Deborah Secor
02-12-2008, 02:47 PM
I remember having a very similar epiphany with sunlight coming in a window and an incandescent light over the sink casting shadows of various colors from the towels in the bathroom--interesting that it was the bathroom for both of us, Donna! :D I guess it's small enough that you can see such things, plus there's 'observation time'! :lol:

One thing to keep in mind with shadows is their shape. News flash: shadows have no shapes of their own! I remember getting that through my thick skull one day years ago. Albert Handell came over to my easel in a workshop and mused over my painting. Then he asked me what was causing this one shadow in the foreground to go up. My answer was I didn't want it to be straight. He said, "But there's no reason for it to go up. You have to give it a reason!"

Shadows have two reasons for their shapes:
The thing casting the shadow has a certain shape.
The thing on which the shadow is cast has a certain shape.Those two things combined can be quite a challenge sometimes!


So analyze this apple and see what's making the shape of the shadow on the table. It is the shape of the thing casting it (the apple) and the thing on which it's cast (the table.) And yes, this shadow is made by natural sunlight only.

Look at this one by Liz Haywood-Sullivan. What is making the shapes of these shadows? Nice, huh?

Anyone else want to play? What observations do YOU have???


Donna T
02-12-2008, 04:04 PM
Oh, I really need to hear this, over and over until it sinks in. Here's some good info from Michael Chesley Johnson over in Plein Air:



02-12-2008, 06:11 PM
Analyzing, with pictures crudely drawn in Paint.

Beams of light hit the apple. I've indicated where they touch the circumference-part of apple with coloured dots. To the left, where no beams reach "around the corner" of the apple, there is the shadow-side.

When beams of light hit table, the part that is blocked by apple is not reached by beams, the cast shadow. Edges of cast shadow indicated by dots of same colour as their correspondent spot on apple (on the same beam).


Light is invisible, unless it is reflected by an object, like a dust-mite, or a table. So a shadow most certainly does *not* look look like below, it is a no-no:

Let us put in a wall by the apple. The beams are still the same, and the coloured spots indicating where the surface is hit by the beams are moved to where they hit the wall (still on the same beams):

So the charming painting of a road shows the 'wall-principle'. Where the light around the cast shadow across the road hits the grass, it looks like it is changing direction, but what we see is the same cast shadow on a vertical surface, following all rules.

Gaaah, not easy to say in words. I'm sure we all know this, but it was a good excercise for me.

02-14-2008, 10:29 PM
A slightly different approach on the subject is taken by Paul Strisik, in his book "Capturing Light in Oils" - a book I would definitely recommend (it might be out of print). He talks about light and shadow in terms of "energy" and "lack of energy". For outdoor work, especially, yellow depicts the energy of sunlight and violet (it's complement) depicts a lack of energy. It is another way of describing warm and cool. Here's a quote from the book:

Shadows confuse students because they think of them as being different colors. What color, they ask, is the shadow side of a green tree or a red apple? To understand shadows, don't worry about their different colors. Instead think of all the shadows in your picture as related by the fact that they're devitalized forms of energy. They all share a hint of our most devitalized color, violet.

He recommends, as an exercise, to block in all of your shadows using a grayed violet, making sure that the shadows are the correct value. Slight modifications in hue can be made, but keeping all the shadows variations of violet can also create a nice harmony. This exercise, is of course, just a starting point - he does not advocate using violet for all shadows, but as stated above - using a hint of violet in shadows is a good starting point.


Deborah Secor
02-14-2008, 10:59 PM
I think what Strisik said makes sense. Maggie Price's exercise using blues in the shadow areas and yellows in the sunlit areas for the block-in, has somewhat the same effect.

What color is the shadow side of the apple above? Red objects stay red in shadow....even though there is other color there, the red is not missing. A red object does not turn blue in shadow, but the red is flavored with blue.

Haywood-Sullivan's road is lavender in sunlight, purple in shadow. Blue added.


02-15-2008, 02:18 PM
Wow! THis is a very informative thread. Learning a lot.

Donna, what are you doing up after 1 AM? I wouldn't be able to articulate a thing.

Thanks, Deborah for starting this. Some things I've studied before, but needed a refresher for my memory.

02-16-2008, 03:13 PM

What a great thread!
Here is a fun thing to do:
I first did it as part of a unit on light with my first graders (Retired three years ago after 43 years! :heart: )
I had the kids take a bunch of pieces of colored paper (school-type construction paper) I think we used green, red, orange, yellow, blue, maybe a brown and a purple.
They went in little teams around the classroom using them as little "reflectors" to make shadows. Then we would go into a glass-windowed hallway, where we had lots of sunshine and played some more with them.
They were amazed at what happened as they held the pieces of paper at various angles etc.
Go gets some scraps of colored papers and go play!:p

02-16-2008, 08:10 PM
Here are some photos I was playing around with last summer, trying to see what I could observe for shadows. Sorry for the sideways one.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Feb-2008/61016-P1030525.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Feb-2008/61016-P1030515.JPG
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Feb-2008/61016-P1030848.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Feb-2008/61016-P1030534.JPG

Deborah Secor
02-17-2008, 12:06 AM
Ooooo, very nice pictures Lorraine! One thing that shows so well is that the shadow has a little more of the sun injected into it as it travels away from the object casting it. In my classroom we call it the "dark roots" rule. The shadow is darker at its root. Look at the last one, for instance, and see how very subtly you can see a slightly lighter blue at the edge, which isn't just a result of the reflection of color. The first one has both! Lovely!


Kathryn Wilson
02-17-2008, 07:13 AM
Wow, great thread Deborah!

I want to play! The apple's shadow is not blue, but rather a combination of the lack of light in the shadow side of the apple, BUT also the reflected light of the apple itself into the shadow. I see, at the very base of the apple, a very dark shadow surrounded by a red that increasingly is diluted as it moves away from the apple, then the shadow turns a greyish orange? (hard color to describe)

And THEN there is the astonishing shadow in Lorraine's third rose photo - there is sunlight within the shadow itself??? And how about the pink in the blue shadow in the first rose photo - look closely, it is there along with some green under the leaves.

Dot Hoffman
02-17-2008, 05:28 PM
I immediately saw exactly the same things Kat did! Great thread, thanks for starting it Deborah.

02-18-2008, 05:31 AM
Oooo, beautiful rose! Those petals are so transluscent that a bit of the light shines through them, but that light is so weak it doesn't travel any distance except straight down.

In the first, there is also a bit of green under the leaves, guess that is a combo of reflected light and light gone through the leaves.

Anyways, it is *these* subtle colourshifts in the shadows that make the shadows so interesting! And beautiful.

Excellent sharp photos, Lorraine!

Deborah Secor
02-18-2008, 02:30 PM

Here's another general rule to remember, which I think we can see in the photo above. The farther a shadow travels away from the thing casting it, the softer it's edges are. See the tight shadow of the little tree? Now contrast it with the softer one behind it, cast by a much taller tree.

Part of the reason for the softening effect links into another neat observation. The sun is round and when sunlight pours through a sky hole in a tree (a gap in the foliage), that gap acts as a sort of crude lens that repeats the shape of the sun. So the light pouring throught the sky hole forms a rounded sun spot on the ground.

Here, let me show you a cool phemomenon that helps explain this better. In an eclipse the sky holes look like this:


The shape of the sun is different, thus the shape of the sun spot holes repeats it!

So that's why the spots of sunlight inside a shadow are softly rounded, although you'll notice that you can pick out more details of leaves (or the petal shapes on the rose) when the shadow doesn't travel too far.

Not sure I explained this well enough... :confused: If not, I'll give it another try!


Deborah Secor
02-18-2008, 02:40 PM

This shot shows the rounded sun spots better, I think! Notice that they remain in perspective, too, so that if the ground slants, or the sun is at a strong angle, the sun spot becomes more and more elliptical. Sort of like this:



02-19-2008, 12:17 AM
Deborah, this is a very good informative thread and the samples you've used are well chosen. I've learned a lot.


02-19-2008, 05:32 AM
Thanks, Deborah, a knew piece of knowledge! Cool effect with the eclipse half-moon sunspots!!! Hm, I guess they are turned upside down, but that won't be visible as a crescent doesn't change when turned upside down.

Light is fantastic!

BTW, Is light a wave being particular, or a particle waving? :wave:


Deborah Secor
02-19-2008, 10:23 AM
:wave: yes...

02-19-2008, 11:58 AM
I remember once asking a new student on one of my painting holidays, why ALL the shadows in her landscape scene were painted, in watercolour, with the same violet colour. She said it was because she had been on a painting holiday with a tutor who recommended the use of that particular tube of colour for shadows.

One can go into masses of technical reasons for the colours of shadows. But two VERY BASIC things one need to bear in mind, particularly as a relative beginner, is
1 )the temperature of the light source and

How could that tutor have recommended the use of the same violet paint, for a shadow side of a red apple, the shadows on green grass, or the shadows cast onto a white wall, or a red brick wall? And without taking into account, at all, the temperature of the light source? I was really rather horrified.

Temperature of the light source:

Sunlight is essentially warm, so the shadows will be LESS warm. How they affect the surface they fall on needs studying carefully....rules of colour complements can be considered and helpfully used.

Light on an overcast day may well be cool, shadows (and there will still be shadows) will be very different in colour and temperature.

Light from a spotlight will be warm; light from fluorescent lamp will be cool. The shadows will change accordingly.

The colour of the surface under the shadow:

The colour of the surface thro the shadow needs consideration, as I think I explained well enough above. The colour of a brown surface, with a shadow on it, cannot possibly be the same as the colour of a white, or green, surface with shadow on it. It is quite logical!

Using the eye alone is good.......but sometimes not enough.....we need to use our brains too.

Deborah Secor
02-24-2008, 09:44 PM

Sorry this is crooked! this is a Handell painting. I thought it did a good job of continuing the discussion here... Look at all the different surfaces in sunlight and shadow, and how expertly he made the shadows believable but not necessarily by layering and layering and layering color. For instance, the shadow on the adobe wall beside the door is one color, but it's in the family of the wall in sunlight.

I have a 'recipe' I use for shadow colors:
the local color of the thing upon which it's cast + slightly darker + blue (outdoors)
However, like any basic recipe, it needs some personalization. For instance, when the street curb is screaming yellow and the shadow crosses it, using green may not be the best choice (yellow + slightly darkened + blue = green). I may make it more of an ochre color, adding reds into the mix, or more turquoise, adding blues. If the adobe wall is pink, purple shadows may make me cringe (toooooo sweet), so I may add more red-violet or make it more of a classic gray mix using a triad of colors to produce that gray.

I've taught this method of determining shadow color for years, derived out of the frustration of many students who were totally unable to see the color of a shadow. I would ask them to shift their vision back to the local color in the sunlight (or better yet in half-light, if it's shown, which is where you see the most accurate rendition of it, I think), then use the recipe and tell me what color it is...

Sometimes they're still totally baffled. In that case I ask them to look at the shadow and simply name a color on the color wheel... Gray isn't on the color wheel! Beige isn't either. Once they choose a color, they have to find the correct VALUE of that color for the shadow (and photos consistently over-darken shadows, trust me!) Once they have a color and value, they can start making that shadow, and often that's all they need to get launched!

To be continued.....


02-25-2008, 01:35 AM
a wee trick I have used in the past with students, is to get them to cut a small hole in a piece of white paper, and hold up that sheet of paper so that they can see the colour and tone of the shadow through the hole, so that the colour is surrounded ONLY by the white of the paper. Then, they can decide more easily, somehow, about the colour of the shadow, without any interference from surrounding colours. the paper isolates the colour from everything around it, which makes it easier to "see" the colour more objectively.


Deborah Secor
02-25-2008, 09:49 AM
Ooooo, good idea, Jackie!


02-27-2008, 11:18 AM
I have a bit of confusion about this subject and in awe how some can see these colors. Is it a natural or acquired skill? Many times in the class I take, even after a good long look at a still life shadow I still cannot see a color which I know must be there and must wait my turn for my teacher, so he can point it out, which many times does the trick.

Deborah: you stated about the Handell painting, " Look at all the different surfaces in sunlight and shadow, and how expertly he made the shadows believable but not necessarily by layering and layering and layering color. For instance, the shadow on the adobe wall beside the door is one color, but it's in the family of the wall in sunlight."

I'm really not sure what you are describing. Is the "family" just a stick of pastel which is by its' individual nature a greyer "pink" (if pink is the color of the adobe wall in direct sunlight) - a different value of the same color hue? Would the layering upon layering (which you suggest he did not do) be adding say violet or grey over that same pink he uses for the sun-lit pink wall and blending them in some fashion? Having learned from Albert I know he always has that trusty paper towel in his left hand ready to take a light swipe over a stroke especially when he's looking for that soft edge. But in this case that adobe shadow is not soft.

I met Karl of Mount Vision at the PSA show in NYC last fall and had him pick out a set of greyed hues (greyed yellow, greyed reds, greyed greens, etc) which I always seemed to be missing for shadows. By your formula, it seems that I should add a bit of blue as well to each of these applications. I have been eyeing that new Unison Shadow Set, where I would have variation of the blues to add into the greyed colors. It wouldn't be multiple layers upon layers upon layers, just one blued pastel stick on top of a greyed one.

Boy I have even confused myself.:confused: Thanks for being patient with me.:o



Deborah Secor
02-29-2008, 07:50 PM

David, look at the wall in sunlight. There's a unifying color beneath, probably the paper color, that is a tan or beige. The wall is peach, one color, scumbled in place allowing the undercolor to show. In the shadow, Handell chose a slightly grayed down, somewhat darker color that comes from the same area in his palette. If I was choosing a color I'd look in my palette at the peach and move backwards, which is into the darker colors for me. In the photo below the peaches are along the top edge, which is hard to see, but I think you can see how I'd move to the right and find a color in the brown family.


There's nothing to say you can't layer colors, of course, but I've always admired Albert's willingness to leave a good color in place from the start. I might have added more colors, but not grayeddown necessarily--just the right value and relating in hue, if not exactly the same color group.

If the wall was pink I'd move to the right and choose something a little cooler in color, maybe a red violet or purple, but I could add orange or even green, if it was the right value! The thing I'm pointing out is you really can use any color to create a shadow as long as two things happen: the shadow contains the color of the thing upon whihc it's cast (the peach of the wall, for instance), and be of the correct value with a bit of blue added if it's outside.

I hope that helps! Ask away, if not...


03-01-2008, 11:23 AM
Hi Deborah, all,

Am curious about Handell, how he does things. So I constructed a picture of samples taken from the painting, enlarged.

Top row are taken from light areas, bottom rows same object in shadow.

Carved pole, wall (brightest patch), door, ground, last is the leaves.

The turquoise-green pole gets a rather pure blue shadow. Shadow of the ground is a dark muted blueish, and shadow of the leaves is bluish-greenish, darkly so. Those are the shadow areas lit by the sky. The areas of wall and door are under the... the... overhang (?), the roof of the entrance, and they are mostly darker and grayed, as they don't get light from the blue sky (not directly, as the other shadows does). Wall and door shadows are way cooler and grayed, compared to the lights.

All lights contain a certain amount of yellow, when compared with the shadow-patches.

Or? What do you think?

03-01-2008, 12:01 PM
There is a Pastellist named Rosalie Nadeau. I did the same thing with her late afternoon landscape The Red Skiff:


Upper row are samples from lights. Lower rows the shadows of same objects.
The skiff, the path, the grass, big rock, bank behind big rock:


Rather clear she's going way bluer, and/or reddish purplish brownish. All shadows are reached by blue light from sky.


Deborah Secor
03-01-2008, 07:23 PM
I think you're seeing things well and I appreciate your work to show it all! Love the observation about Handell's work, especially the shadows under the little portal (say: por-TALL) in its shade not having blue...


03-01-2008, 08:50 PM
Thanks Charlie, for taking the time to do these studies. Very interesting! I am lucky to have been able to obtain a copy of Emile Gruppe's book "Gruppe on Color" - it's out of print and can sell for over $100 on ebay. He was an oil painter, but his advice can be used by all. For outdoor scenes he sums things up pretty simply (and I think your examples tell the same story). On a sunny day things are affected by two sources of light, the sun which is warm and yellow, and the sky which is cool and blue. Whatever isn't colored by the rays of the sun, is colored by the rest of the sky. This is obviously very general and as pointed out, the shadows under the overhang would not get any light from the blue sky, so no blue was used in that shadow.

His comments regarding warm and cool contrasts offer good and simple advice. He writes:

The fact that objects outdoors are either warm or cool was a great discovery for me. For it's the contrast between warm and cool color that makes you feel the light in a picture. If both your highlights and shadows are warm, as they are when you use earth colors everywhere, then there is nothing to tell you how warm the sunlight is. The cool color gives you a gauge.

Earlier David asked about seeing color in shadow. Yes, for many it is an acquired skill to see them. I must say that even after 25 years or so of looking, I still have trouble seeing color in shadow much of the time. But I know that a painting looks more realistic when they are there. And even if they are not visible, as Gruppe's quote points out, cool colors in the shadows will help define and accentuate warm light. (The opposite is true as well, cool light is accentuated by warm shadows).


Deborah Secor
03-01-2008, 09:31 PM

How about these shadows? I know, they aren't very realistic but I do think they're expressive, which was what I was after!

Look at Susan Ogilvie's shadow colors, however:




Fun to look at her different means of expressing the shadows not at all realistically in some cases, yet the red barn in shadow is much more so...except for the blue structure's (whatever it is) shadows! For me the colors work well. Love her use of brilliant color!


Donna T
03-02-2008, 07:30 AM
Deborah, these are great examples of expressive shadow colors, yours and Susan Ogilvie's. I think they work so well because the shadow shapes are realistic. I wonder if bolder shadow colors work as long as other bold colors are used throughout the painting? I don't think I would recognize an Ogilvie painting if she used more muted, realistic colors.


03-02-2008, 02:07 PM
Wow, Susan Ogilvie is a colourful lady! I can't be absolutely sure, as I don't know the Hudson school, but her work reminds me of Camille Przewodeks (not the earth tone ones, but the colourful ones). There are clearly reds and oranges under the greens in light, and I saw yellows and pinks in skies.

We've touched on how to *see* the colour of shadow. It is a matter of training the eye and brain. Easiest to start with shadows falling on white, like a table. Basically, it is finding if the shadow is blue, or green, or purple, it will be a bit more of one of these colours. Blue is of course common, but is it ultramarine, cobalt, or cerulean? What pure colour is nearest?

You can make a colour-finder by punching holes in a white or gray card. I often use a "double pinch" -- left hand and right hand, let the fingers meet in front of me, and then look through the square hole between the fingers. I know what colour my fingers are, and the little hole can be aimed at lights and shadows, and it is amazing how clear a colour bias becomes.

Ogilvie's shadows may well be based on the realistic, but the colour bias is pushed and she shows us clearly what colour bias she's seen by not graying down the colour so much (or at all). At least, that is what I suspect she's doing. Wonderful strong paintings with blazing lights.

I've seen magenta shadows on yellowed grass, with my own eyes, in California. Never ever in Sweden, though. Probably something to do with latitudes and air.

03-03-2008, 11:46 AM
Deborah, Charlie and Don,

Thank you for your inputs.:) I understand much better. I have only been painting for a little more than a year and last fall I learned that when painting landscapes from photos, which I had done the first few months, you lose the colors in the shadows because the camera cannot capture them accurately, or at all. There came a point after reading Handell's "Intuitive Light" where there just seemed to be so many factors (atmosphere, season, time of day) which changed the light therefore changing the shadows, that I almost crippled myself to paint in the studio thinking I could not possibly be accurate, so why try. Now that was self-imposed frustration (only being able to paint when I could get outside, or at my painting from life class).

This thread has given me renewed confidence that I can use some simple rules about applying what I know might be true when I cannot actually see what is there (as I might be looking at a photograph.) Having the confidence to place a color based on theory alone and some simple rules and what I gain from the WC'ers is renewing my activity in the studio during these cold snowy months. I wish I knew how to up-load digital pictures. I might actually drum up the nerve to share some.

Thank you. :thumbsup:


03-03-2008, 01:19 PM
Hi David, you're welcome. When I take pictures, I often also try to take mental notes. "That shadow should start a slightly greenish blue". Because the camera 'steals' that colour I see with my eyes.

But you can figure out an approximation. Know the colour of the light, from the sun, and from the sky. A rosy late afternoon-light, just before sunset, tends to give shadows that lean towards green, for example. So you may find bluish-turquoise-cool greenish shadows.

Thankfully, the local colour plus the colour of light works as if you mix paint, so that is at least one thing that is easy to remember. A white object hit by yellow light will look yellow. A red object hit by yellow light will look orangey, and a purple object hit by yellow light will look yucky! :-)