01-03-2011, 10:02 AM
A WetCanvas! Patron Saint
Chadds Ford, PA USA
Join Date: Aug 2010
January Class: PAINTING WITH COLOR AND NATURAL LIGHT
January 2011 Tutorial, Part 1:
Painting with Color & Natural Light
This month we will be learning about “Painting with Color and Natural Light”. We will explore some of the key principles of using personal color choices and natural light together as strong and versatile design tools in our watercolor paintings. Although we will be applying these principles to landscape subjects, the principles are equally applicable to subjects of all types from animals, florals, and still lifes to portraits. Join us!
Why do color and natural light matter?
· Color may be one of the painter’s strongest tools for personal interpretations of a subject and for conveying emotions or personal feelings about a subject;
· Light illuminates what we see and influences our perceived colors, values, emotions, and even our sense of wellness and comfort;
· Together, color and light model a subject matter’s volume and solidity, while strongly affecting the mood and content of a painting in unique ways.
The tutorial will be divided into two parts followed by a demonstration painting. Thereafter, you will have the opportunity to apply the principles in your own painting in the Homework Thread. At your choice, you may work through the tutorial one part at a time, or read through the entire tutorial before beginning your painting.
To illustrate the principles in this tutorial I have used simple colored children’s blocks. The blocks make it easy to see and understand the principles of painting with color and natural light. In a previous thread on Wet Canvas in December, I touched on some of the principles of this tutorial with illustrations from actual landscape paintings. If you’d like to refer to these examples, click here: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=817922
Once one understands and can consistently apply the principles of painting with color and natural light in a painting, it really doesn’t matter if the subject is a landscape, still life or a figure.
· Part 1—Introduction and application of some key principles of color and natural light in painting: 1) Color and temperature of light; 2) Intensity of light; 3) Direction of light.
· Part 2—Introduction and application of some key components of illumination: 1) Illuminated surfaces; 2) Surfaces in shade and shadow; and 3) Reflections, “light traps” and “halos”.
· Part 3—Painting with color and natural Light: A demonstration painting applying these principles and components of using color and natural light in a landscape painting.
Above All Else:
Let’s have fun and learn from one another.
To me, painting with color means the imaginative use of a favorite palette of colors used in a personal manner. If you are not already a colorist painter, I hope you will create a colorful palette of paint choices and give it a try for this tutorial. It’s a little like being back in kindergarten class where you can play and there are no “wrongs”. The idea in this tutorial is not to paint like me or like anyone else. The idea is for you to imaginatively use color in your own personal way! I’ll say a bit more about personal color when we get to the demonstration painting part of the tutorial.
If it helps, here’s a photo of my current palette of colors (American Journey and DaVinci paints, using a Skip Lawrence palette). My palette includes “core” colors I use frequently, and several “opportunity” colors which I save and use only when there’s a good opportunity for them. Colors are as follows:
· Lower row (L to R): Hansa yellow,Indian yellow, Cad scarlet, Naples yellow (opportunity color), Peachy keen (opportunity color), Quin gold, Cad orange, Quin burnt orange, Quin rose, Cobalt violet (opportunity color)
· Upper row (L to R): Ultramarine violet, Cobalt, Phathlo blue, Manganese blue, Andrew’s turquoise, Phathlo green (opportunity color), Spring green, Payne’s gray (darkening neutral)
Using the tutorial:
The tutorial uses simple block shapes to demonstrate the principles of painting with color and natural light. The simple shapes beg for the use of personal color. If you’re not already a colorist, these blocks may help you to choose and apply color in a personal and fun manner. As we work our way through the tutorial, I suggest that you do some practice sheets, applying the tutorial principles by painting your own set of simple block shapes. If you keep your practice sheets approximately 8” X 10”, they will fit within a 3-ring notebook binder. Combined with a printed copy of this tutorial, the notebook may be a useful future reference tool.
Introduction to Color and Light in Painting — Tutorial Lesson 1
Key Principles for Seeing and Painting with Color and Natural Light
Color and Temperature of Light:
Let’s get cranking!Perhaps the most important principle for painting with color and natural light is to understand that light, indeed, has both color and temperature!
· Physics and Painterly Effects: The illustration below shows the color of light in degrees Kelvin.
To get your own chart, just Google “color of light”. As you can see, natural light actually has many colors, based on temperature! Artificial lighting adds even more colors. This should be your first clue that light can be powerfully represented through the use of many colors and temperatures. Light can also be represented in a painterly manner to express many different feelings, emotions and effects. I’ve illustrated some options for using color to represent different lighting effects, i.e., neutral mid-day, early morning, and late afternoon, plus atmospheric effects such as mist and fog.
The painterly opportunities to use color to convey feelings, emotions and effects are limited only by one’s imagination.
· Importance of light’s color and intensity: It really is the color (based on temperature) and intensity of the prevailing light plus the reflected light in the local environment that determines our perceived color of a subject. Even local value is affected by the color and intensity of the illuminating light and the surrounding local environment. For example, the pinky-orange warm glow of a late afternoon sunset will infuse everything we see with that prevailing color and intensity. At the other end of the spectrum, a frigid mid-day winter scene may be characterized by an all-encompassing cool yellow-blue or blue light. These effects, and many others, can only be achieved using the color and intensity of light.
Intensity of Light:
A second important principle of light deals with the intensity of the ambient light. I’ve illustrated four options for intensity below: two ways to suggest strong illumination; a way to suggest weak illumination; and a way to suggest atmospheric effects.
· Strong illumination: Strong illumination is often characterized by a wide range of saturated warm colors on the illuminated surfaces of shapes, accompanied by cooler shaded areas and strong contrasting shadow areas. Shadows tend to be more intense and darker value than shaded surfaces. In strong illumination, there is also an intense, full range of values--light to dark. Strong illumination may be rendered in various ways. Here are just two examples:
o Spotlight effect: Characterized byawide and intense range of color and value contrasts.Be cautious, in landscape subjects, that this approach does not place too much emphasis on isolated objects.
o Floodlight and/or “glare” effects: In contrast to the extreme spotlight effects of intense color and value contrasts, strong illumination may also be represented by close value and color contrasts. When these contrasts are pronounced they suggest “glare”. Glare conditions may be characterized by filtered light with some softer or lost edges where the light breaks over the subject.
· Weak illumination: Weaker illumination is created when there is less warm light present. Thus, weak illumination is characterized by employing a reduced range of cooler colors in the illuminated areas and cool accents and moderate to limited shadows, depending upon the desired effect and strength of the ambient illumination. In weak illumination, there are few strong contrasts in color or value. Shapes are flatter with less modeling and subjects exhibit reduced detail/texture.
· Atmospheric effects on illumination: Rain, mist, and fog are typical atmospheric effects that create special lighting conditions. Compared to weak illumination, atmospheric lighting effects have even greater reductions in color and value range. These effects are characterized by greatly reduced contrast (primarily mid to light value ranges and muted cooler colors). Shapes are almost completely flat silhouettes, with virtually no modeling, detail or texture, particularly as they may recede into the painting’s background. Shadows, if any, are very limited, extremely muted and soft. These principles help to explain why successful atmospheric effects can be so challenging to paint. Not every landscape subject can successfully be “decomposed” to meet these principles, so choose your subject carefully (a few pronounced shapes only) if you desire to successfully express atmospheric effects.
Direction of Lighting:
A final principle important in painting with light is to understand the characteristics of the varying directions of lighting. The direction of the lighting affects modeling and definition of the subject and its setting, as well as the mood and atmosphere of the painting.
Four major directions for light to enter the painting are shown below, using strong illumination: from the front, three-quarter, side, and back.
· Front lighting: Light coming directly from the front tends to reduce descriptive modeling to a minimum since most visible surfaces are equally illuminated and there is little or no visible shadow. Rich, intense colors and values are possible (see upper left, below).
· Three-quarters lighting: At an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the subject, light, shade, and shadow are all present in significant amounts. This improves the descriptive modeling of the subject and provides opportunities for a wider variety of color, values and contrast (see upper right, above).
· Side lighting: Like three-quarters lighting, side lighting gives a strong feeling of solidity and three-dimensionality. Very dramatic cast shadows are often possible, creating opportunity for strong shadow forms which may be very descriptive of the surfaces on which they fall. There is strong dramatic potential for design and composition purposes with side lighting (see lower left, above).
· Back lighting: Light coming from behind the subject changes the perception of a subject and creates more of a silhouetted image. You can brighten and soften edges of shapes where appropriate to indicate the way light creates a “halo” or rim effect, as it passes over and past the subject. Back lighting is generally characterized by a narrow range of mid to dark values. Due to the absence of direct light, colors should generally be cool and muted. Depending on lighting intensity, forms may flatten and details become vague. The overall impression may be cool, low-key, shadowy, ambiguous, or even mysterious. This type of lighting also has the potential for great dramatic design and composition purposes (see lower right, above).
Effect of light on surfaces:
In normal natural light, horizontal surfaces collect or reflect light and tend to appear lighter while vertical surfaces retain color and appear darker in color and value. Depending on the intensity of the ambient lighting, this can lead to painting situations such as a black roof being lighter than a shaded wall!
Before we get to Lesson Two of the Tutorial, why don’t you use the illustrations from Tutorial 1 to help you paint some reference sheets showing these three key principles?
· Color and temperature of light
· Intensity of light
· Direction of light
If you print out this tutorial and paint your reference sheets about 8” X 10”, you can make a useful 3-ring binder for future reference.
Last edited by painterbear : 01-03-2011 at 11:03 AM.
01-03-2011, 10:17 AM
A WetCanvas! Patron Saint
Chadds Ford, PA USA
Join Date: Aug 2010
Re: January 2011 Tutorial, Paty 1: Painting with Color & Natural Light
January 2011 Tutorial, Part 2:
Painting with Color and Light
Introduction to Key Components of Natural Light — Tutorial Lesson 2
Illuminated Surfaces, Shade, Shadows, and Reflections
Let’s start with some common definitions for these terms:
· Illuminated surfaces: The surfaces of an object that are directly lit by the available light source.
· Shade: The surfaces of an object that are away from and not illuminated by the light source. This also may be called the “form shadow” by some sources. The important point to remember is that shade is on the object or form itself.
· Shadows: The shapes cast by an illuminated object upon adjacent forms and surfaces. Shadows are transformed by the shape of the form or surface where they appear. These may be called the “cast shadows” by some sources. The important point to remember is that shadows are cast by the object or form onto another form or surface.
· Reflections: The reversed image, color, and value of an object that may be seen in adjacent forms and surfaces under favorable lighting conditions.
Some General Rules of Thumb
· Composition: Either the illuminated areas or the shadow areas should dominate to maximize the effect of light in landscape paintings. When illuminated areas and shadow areas are approximately equal in a painting, the effect of lighting is reduced, and the risk of a “static” composition is increased.
· Temperature: In normal natural light, illuminated objects tend to be “warmer” and objects in shade and shadow tend to be “cooler”. Remember that terms such as “warmer” and “cooler” are comparative terms and not absolute ones. For example, some violets are warmer and other violets are cooler, when compared with one another.
· Shadows vs. shade: In normal natural light, shadows are a more intense color and darker value than shade.
Shape and intensity of Shadows
Now that we have a common vocabulary and a few simple rules to keep in mind, the first key principle of shadows deals with their shape and intensity. Shadows are influenced by both the intensity of the light source and the distance from the object that is casting the shadow.
· Intense or hard shadows: Shadows closer to the light source and object are more intense, warmer, and harder-edged.
· Muted or soft shadows: Shadows that are more distant from the light source and object are less intense, cooler and softer edged.
· Little or no visible shadows: Depending on desired painterly effect, shadows may be significantly reduced in intensity and value in weak light, and vary greatly reduced, or not appear to be present at all, in atmospheric conditions.
The Color and Temperature of Shadows
The second key principle of shadows has to do with their color and temperature:
· Strong light: In bright full light, shadows pick up the color of the ambient light and colors from the surfaces upon which they fall. Shadow colors vary with the color of each color/texture of the surfaces on which they fall. Because shadows (like shade) are the absence of direct sunlight, colors tend to be cooler than the warmer colors in direct sunlight. Try to keep shadows as luminous as possible. Do not “scrub” them into the paper! Remember the principles above and vary your shadows as they become more distant from the light source and the subject casting the shadows.
· Weak light: Weak light means there is less warm light present, i.e., the lighting temperature is cooler and the intensity of lighting is less. Thus, shadows, if present, will be substantially muted, much cooler, and greatly softened.
· Painterly Effects: For a painterly effect, particularly in strong light, shadows may include the complement of the color of the object casting the shadow. This principle, of placing complementary colors adjacent to one another, is called simultaneous contrast. This approach is particularly effective if the complementary color is introduced in a small area, wet into wet, immediately adjacent to the form casting the shadow. Such a use of complementary colors can provide remarkable, shimmering luminosity, especially when working with intense ambient light. For a different painterly effect, random “jewels” of dropped-in color can enliven both sunlit and shadowed areas.
Reflections, “Light Traps” and “Halos”
The third and final principle for shade and shadows has to do with three small design elements which can add large effects when painting with light. The illustrations below employ these design elements in various ways.
· Reflections: Reflections add to the painterly effect of color and light by energizing the play of highlighted color of adjacent shapes. Careful use of reflections also adds a “sparkle” effect, particularly in strong illumination, accentuating the use of light in the painting.
Some thoughts about using reflections:
oReflections may occur in illuminated surfaces, shade, and shadow, particularly in strong illumination.
oReflections are most easily seen in bright illumination; they are muted in weaker lighting; and almost non-existent in atmospheric lighting conditions.
oConcerning the value of reflections:
• They are lighter in value in any shadow area in which they fall
• They are darker in value in any light area in which they fall.
oApplication techniques: Reflections may be created in vertical and horizontal surfaces using wet into wet applications, or they may result from “lifting” a surface color. Wet into wet provides the most striking results, while lifting can suggest weaker illumination effects. Use reflections, judiciously. A little goes a long way!
· “Light traps”: This is my term for the intersections of vertical and horizontal shapes or surfaces where the light may be perceived to be “trapped” and bounces or reflects, first from one surface and then to the other. Examples include the underside of the roof of a porch on a building (horizontal) and the adjacent wall (vertical). Another example is the intersection of a vertical wall with a horizontal element such as the ground. These intersections are key locations to find and use in a painting to emphasize the play of color and light. Application technique for “light traps” is similar to that of reflections, above.Light traps are effective in both strong and weak illumination, so long as the “trapped” light is appropriate to the overall lighting intensity.I’ve never met an intersection of a vertical and a horizontal that I didn’t like!
· “Halo effects”: This is my term for suggesting the effect of light on the edges of shapes where light can reasonably be perceived to be passing or being reflected. It could also be called the “rim effect”. It is especially prevalent with back lighting, but reasonable in other strong directional lighting as well. Halo effects are less pronounced in weak light and may be almost non-existent in atmospheric conditions. Application involves use of softened or lost edges, combined either with color wet into wet or lifting a surface color to create the “halo”. Use this powerful effect judiciously—a little goes a long way!
Myths About Color and Natural Light
· Light is represented by value contrast, not color: Some simple use of lighting can indeed be represented by value contrasts, i.e., light values juxtaposed with dark values to suggest strong illumination, for example. It is impossible, however, to convey the wide range of painterly feelings, emotions and effects of natural light without employing the imaginative use of color, intensity and temperature. For example, try to distinguish between a lovely sunrise and a stunning sunset using values only! Or try to create a sense of cold or mystery using only values. Color, intensity and temperature are strong and versatile painting tools for personal expression.
· Shade and shadow are the “absence of light”: Shade and shadows are not the absence of light—they are simply the absence of direct illumination. Light, from the sky and reflected surfaces such as the ground, however, is always present in shade and shadows. Prove it by going outside and looking at an object in the shade and in a shadowed area. One can clearly see and differentiate between every object in the shade and the shadow! If there was an absence of light, one would see nothing! So much for opaque, black shade and shadows!
· Shade and shadow are a “universal color”: There is no “universal” shade or shadow color such as gray, violet, blue, or “shadow green”. The color of shade and shadow are derived, first from the color of the ambient illumination and, second from the colors of the local objects on which the shade and shadow fall. For example, the shadow color on a brick walk is not the same as the color of the same shadow on the adjacent grass.
Before we get to the actual demonstration painting, why don’t you use the illustrations from Tutorial 2 to help you paint reference sheets of some of these key principles for shade, shadows and reflections?
· Shape and intensity of shadows
· Color and temperature of shadows
· Reflections, “light traps” and “halos”
If you print out the tutorial and paint your reference sheets about 8” X 10”, you can add them to the 3-ring binder you started in Lesson One.
Last edited by painterbear : 01-03-2011 at 11:09 AM.
01-03-2011, 10:26 AM
A WetCanvas! Patron Saint
Chadds Ford, PA USA
Join Date: Aug 2010
Re: January 2011 Tutorial, Paty 1: Painting with Color & Natural Light
January 2011 Tutorial, Part 3:
Painting With Color & Natural Light
Demonstration Painting — Tutorial Lesson 3 “Spring Is Just Around the Corner”
The reference photo, which I have titled “Spring Is Just Around the Corner”, illustrates a landscape that consists of both natural and man-made objects. The photo will maximize the opportunities to use the principles of this tutorial. You may wish to print the photo for a larger painting reference.
The actual subject is a charming inn (The Inn at Montchanin Village) of 11 restored buildings dating from 1799 to 1910, named for Alexandrine de Montchanin, grandmother of the founder of the DuPont Gunpowder Company, located in the Wilmington, Delaware area, USA.
In the photo, the existing lighting is from the side, creating objects with surfaces that are both illuminated and in shade. The side light also creates opportunity for strong, descriptive shadow forms. For the demonstration, I have chosen to expand the existing shadows for a stronger painterly effect. I’ve also added a few objects and edited others for better compositional interest and to create more interesting, “overlapping” shapes.
Approach to Painting:
There are as many approaches to making a painting as there are painters. Here are some of my thoughts and my personal sequence in approaching the demonstration painting:
1. Plan ahead:
Consider and plan your approach to the painting before starting to paint. Use your sketchbook to analyze the photo; to identify and develop your design, composition and values, and to establish your overall painting idea. You don’t have to accept the photo the way it is. Your sketchbook lets you edit the photo and make it your personal one! The goal is to have an idea and a plan worked out in your mind before starting to paint. I’m not arguing against intuitive approaches to painting, but I am suggesting some prior critical thinking about the application of the tutorial principles before putting a brush to paper. Once you begin to paint, be open to the spontaneity of watercolor, and accept what the brush and paint will give you.
2. Your painterly idea:
Most importantly, what is your painterly idea? Are you painting what you see in the photo, or are you concerned with an emotion, feeling or interpretation that you wish to convey to the viewer? Will you accept and use strong, neutral illumination, or will your illumination be modified in intensity and/or color for a personal approach?
· I urge you to use color and natural light in your own personal way to suggest what’s important to you. For example, you may want to express the joy of an early Spring sunrise, using a variegated yellow wash over much of the painting. Or, perhaps, the neutral light and natural beauty of a subject in the mid-day sun; the glory of a pinky-orange late afternoon sun; the pinky-blue of last light; the mystery and ambiguity of the subject in green ambient light; or the cold and mystery inherent in a predominantly blue painting. If that’s not enough for a painterly idea, how about the feelings created by a foggy or misty image of the subject? Or, perhaps, how about the subject during or after a hard rain storm?
· Remember to employ the appropriate direction, intensity and color of light (and corresponding shade and shadows) to support your idea. Finally, think about the opportunities for reflections, light traps and halo effects. Work these ideas out in your sketchbook, and in your mind, before painting. For example, I often paint the subject “in my mind” for a day or two before actually putting a brush to paper!
· As you develop your Idea, remember that the sky isn’t always blue and the trees aren’t always green!
However you approach the making of your painting, remember the 80-20 rule: make at least 80% of your painting about your idea.
3. From light to dark:
Begin painting by first defining and laying in lightest areas and objects.
4. Major shapes and colors:
Major geometrical shapes and significant saturated color areas often benefit from early placement of key color notes on clean paper. Here is where you will begin to distinguish between surfaces in light (warmer) and those in shade (cooler). This is also the time to handle the reflections, light traps and halo effects for these shapes, using either a wet into wet approach or a lifting and softening approach, as may be most appropriate for your desired painterly effect.
5. Supportive shapes and colors:
Remaining natural objects can be added, many as “grouped” shapes. Remember the direction and intensity of your ambient lighting, with the resulting illuminated and shaded surfaces on these objects. Carefully consider the edges of these shapes, since hard edges attract the eye, and soft/lost edges let the eye skip over to other parts of the painting. Develop your shapes with edges based on where you want the viewer’s eye to travel.
6. Mid-tones and darks:
Add/build mid-tone values, followed by dark values last so as to create “clean” shapes and edges with your dark values. This is generally when you will add your major shadow forms, since they tend to be more intense color and value, in strong light. You can do your major shadows wet on dry, or as wet into wet shapes. Keep in mind that shadows tend to be darker in value than shade. Remember that the color of shadows is based on the color of the overall ambient lighting and the colors present in the local environment. Thus, shadows crossing more than one material/texture will have more than one shadow color! Be sure to pre-mix sufficient shadow colors to allow application in a single, continuous wash, which includes dropping in some “jewels” of complementary color. For luminous shadows, lay-in the shadow shapes, vary the intensity and edges, and get out! No scrubbing; no reworking—in and out! Practice on a scrap until you can do it with confidence.
7. Finishing touches:
Introduce limited details and any texture needed to convey painterly intent, including any additional needed reflection, light traps and halo effects.
8. Final coordination:
Tie colors and values together with coordinating washes where needed; review major shapes and edges—soften or lose edges needed for desired painterly effect.
Step back, and view your finished painting!
Step by step for “Spring Is Just Around the Corner”:
With the preceding approach in mind, here are illustrations of my progress in the demonstration painting:
Several thumbnail sketches were used to explore and confirm composition and to establish value scale, i.e., location of darks, mid-tones and lights.
Determine the approach and painting idea: My idea was to suggest the joy and beauty of an early Spring season, in the neutral light of mid to late afternoon. I love “long shadows” and the late afternoon side lighting provides that opportunity.
Paint the sky and foreground (wet on wet): Some of the light sky colors were introduced into the foreground areas for color harmony, particularly where there will be no shadows.
Lay-in the light natural objects and foliage that overlay the buildings and other man-made objects (wet into wet, soft edges).
Paint buildings and man-made objects (wet on dry, with cooler colors in the shaded surfaces) and lay-in some of the early mid-value shapes (wet into wet). Look for opportunities for reflections, light traps and halo effects.
Paint the remaining mid-value objects. Carefully consider the shapes and edges for best painterly effect.
Introduce the darks: paint shadows and other darks (I pre-mixed sufficient quantities for the differing shadow colors to ensure a continuous, consistent one-time wet into dry wash. I made sure I varied the intensity of the color and used softened/lost edges in places).
Add needed details/textures (tree trunks, limbs, etc.) and any needed coordinating and adjusting washes (including any softened or lifted edges needed for desired final effect).
Now it’s your turn. Post your comments and paintings in the Homework thread identified. Please post your comments and critique on the demonstration painting and this tutorial. I particularly would like to hear how the tutorial could be improved and made better. Lastly, don’t forget to
Last edited by virgil carter : 01-03-2011 at 10:54 AM.