View Full Version : Chiaroscuro - July 2011

07-03-2011, 02:06 PM
July is hot in this hemisphere and cool in the southern hemisphere so lets do Chiaroscuro....we can hide in the shadows to keep cool and you down under can warm up in the light!!

Here are a few chiaroscuro facts and a few examples.

I hope you will be able to take some time and study this famous technique.

Use any medium you like. Do something after a classical painting or an original of your own.


English pronunciation -- /kiˌɑːrəˈskjʊəroʊ/,

Chiaroscuro in art is characterized by strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affection a whole composition.

Chiaroscuro originated during the Renaissance as drawing on coloured paper, where the artist worked from paper's base tone towards light using white gouache, and towards dark using ink, body colour or watercolour.

Landscape chiarscuro -- Jan Both 1615 - 1652
Thomas Cole - Detail - the Last of the Mochicans


Rembrant - Self-Portrait at Twenty-Two 1628

Diego Rivera - Self-Portrait - 1907

Wassily Kandinsky - Couple Riding 1906

07-03-2011, 02:09 PM
oops - posted the Rembrant twice

07-06-2011, 08:22 AM
You got me really curious about chiaroscuro technique...so I found these YouTubes:




Now let's see what I can do ;)

07-10-2011, 09:56 PM
Hi Janet - thanks for posting these....I'll get to viewing them soon.

I'm thinking of mussin' up my hair and doing one after the Rembrant adolescent!!

07-14-2011, 08:01 AM
here's a quick study - I think the graduation from dark to light is not subtile enough here.....I'll try again:)http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/14-Jul-2011/88676-chiro213.jpg

07-15-2011, 02:40 AM
I'd like to do something for this project. Is it a 2 monther? I like that rivera portrait!:thumbsup:

07-18-2011, 07:42 AM
yeah, let's make this a two monther!!!!

07-22-2011, 05:40 AM
Glad this will be a two monther...I couldn't seem to get anything done this month. :heart:

07-22-2011, 03:23 PM
here's the space shuttle from a news report photohttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jul-2011/88676-atlantis.jpghttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jul-2011/88676-shuttle216.jpg

07-24-2011, 11:24 AM

'Hawaiian ceremony' graphite, A4.....posted in the WDE this weekend. There was a beach scene in the WDE that would be good for a chiaroscuro study.;)

07-24-2011, 11:26 AM
Robin, I love the contrast of the bright white smoke trail against the muted tones of the shuttlecraft!!:clap:

07-31-2011, 11:58 PM
Robin, the little guy under the light is very cute. June, good beach scene for this study.

I did one a couple of weeks ago and didn't have a chance to post it.


This one I did today.

Cretacolor Aquastick crayons and wash
Caran D'ache Neocolor II crayons and wash
Stabilo Woody 3 in 1 crayons
Academie Heavyweight 80 lbs sketchbook 8.5 x 11 inch half page

This is the first time I used pure crayons without dabbling into watercolor for back up. Quite happy with the result.


08-01-2011, 04:57 PM
Sandra - good go....good to hear from you too . Nice use of the blues, greens and yellows - you suceeded in creating good subtile forms in the foreground.

08-06-2011, 08:33 AM
Hi Sandra, good to see you back here! I love your effective landscape. You nailed the contrast of dark and light!:clap:

08-07-2011, 08:49 PM
after rembrant - ink with http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Aug-2011/88676-adoremb221.jpgnib pens & q-tips

08-08-2011, 08:06 PM
Robin, very good portrayal of the technique.

Good to be back. Today I took a day off since my son is sick. It's so fun to stay home to draw on a weekday.

Today I did a few more. Two in watermedia and one in pastel.

This would definitely be the last time I use Co-Mo sketchbooks for any water media. It breaks apart.

I tried my best but it's looking pretty awful.

Cretacolor Aquastik and wash
Yarka Professional watercolor
A multitude of color pencils to do details that refuse to come out
Holbein Gouache white

It's based on this piece here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Adam_Elsheimer_002.jpg).


This piece is based on this Rembrandt piece here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_-_The_Philosopher_in_Meditation.jpg).

I could have done this in soft pastels but the staircase details and bricks are very difficult to do with dusty stuff. Plus I'm really tired of dust flying everywhere.

Stillman Alpha 9x12 inch sketchbook full page hardbound

So here was the first pass. I didn't sketch it first but laid down approximate patches of colors. Then I used Derwent watercolor pencil to sketch outlines later knowing if it's the wrong place, I could wash it off.

There are many times when I use dark colors, I couldn't see my own pencil lines and so I'm doing it in different order now.

So this one already has some outlines washed with a super thin brush.


I couldn't get the wall black even after I use Holbein Gouache. So I took the shortcut and used pan pastels for large spread of color at the end.

For ultra details, it's Lyra Polychromos oil based colored pencils. I wanted a pencil that is slightly transparent and highly erasable in case I erred, which is often. Prisma is very stubborn and can't always be completely erased and Faber Castell Polychromos has a very sharp point and might damage the paper if I erase too much. Really dislike Derwent Inktense pencils for details. It's way too soft and nonerasable. Nor do I like Derwent watercolor pencils. Too hard.

Lyra is just soft enough. And by the way, I'm not sure if you are all aware of this. I could wash Lyra's colored pencils with waterbrush. There was a patch that I didn't like above the window so I washed it to merge into the background and it works. It's not water color pencil but if it's a large patch of color, short of taking an electric eraser or kneaded eraser, just wash it a bit especially if you don't mind some residue colors in patterns. :D

So here's the piece.

Holbein Gouache for the little dino.


Ideally, I want it to look this dark after photoshop.


And finally, this piece. I think it could be considered Chiaroscuro. Originally thought to be Rembrandt's but it's not. Here's the original. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mann_mit_dem_Goldhelm.jpg)

65 lb black Reflection cardstock 8.5 x 11 inch

Faber Castell Polychromos hard pastel
Terry Ludwig soft pastel
Pan Pastel
Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Pencil
Derwent Pastel pencil


08-10-2011, 10:35 AM
Sandra - I enjoy seeing the piece in progress. I rather like your finished piece. The photoshop blacks are too harsh, I think but the darker greens do look good. It is smiley putting in the reptile. I hadn't seen that Rembrant....I hope to copy it too.....I like the golds & greens you used.

08-16-2011, 05:37 AM
Thanks ladies, for helping me understand Chiaroscuro better through your art work.

Like the Rembrandt sketch, Robin...nice and loose with lights and darks, and Sandra....the staircase #2 is my favorite. Now I'll have to give this a try.

Don't you think Chiariscuro is present in Film Noir? All that fabulous lighting. :heart:

08-17-2011, 06:32 PM
Traff - Yes, definitely...... like H.G. Wells' Citizen Kane.

09-12-2011, 11:17 PM
The Rembrandt self portrait is a great example of Chiaroscuro where the shadow on the drapery is continued on the front of the face and hair. He used the shadow as one big value. The light on the side of the face is connected to the light on the top of his left shoulder and continues into the background creating a big light value. And he used a middle value for most of the background on the right side of the portrait. So you have three big values, dark, light and a middle value.

10-09-2011, 05:50 PM
9x12 inches
Acrylic on board

Here's one I did at tonight's life class that uses Chiaroscuro! Sorry I'm joining so late!!

It's done in about 1 hour 45 mins and uses a limited pallette of yellow ochre, raw & burnt Sienna, Burnt umber and black and white.

C&C always welcome!:thumbsup:


10-12-2011, 10:04 AM
really nice Ryan, good job on the face......that expression is so subtile I bet it was tricky getting it to look like something.