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Old 12-04-2005, 06:32 PM
lpb lpb is offline
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Flowers reflecting sky vs. sun

Maybe someone can help me understand what Rachel Rubin Wolf means her book Basic Flower Painting Techniques in Watercolor. In discussing how to paint various petals, she says
Quote:
Paint a very pale wash of new gamboge on the vertical surfaces that receive direct light....Paint horizontal areas that reflect the sky with a pale wash of cobalt blue.
I don't understand what she means about petals that reflect the sun vs the sky. In my yard, the sun is IN the sky. How can it reflect one and not the other?

In addition, some horizontal petals do receive DIRECT sunlight, in fact, more so than many vertical petals. It's not either/or. So where do you do the yellow wash?

Finally, I have hard time looking at a photo, and often even IRL, and determining what reflects the sun vs. sky. One does not look bluer to me than the other.

I hope someone can explain what she means in a different way that will make sense, and that I can USE to paint a flower! Thank you!
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Last edited by lpb : 12-04-2005 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 12-04-2005, 07:19 PM
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FriendCarol FriendCarol is offline
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Re: Flowers reflecting sky vs. sun

Hi, Lorraine Okay, let's totally ignore other possible light sources (reflections from a nearby wall on a house, etc.). Now there are only two sources of light outside. One is the sun, obviously (if it's daytime and the sun is shining). Where a petal has sunlight falling on it directly, that petal is NOT in shadow, and receives the (yellow) illumination of the sun.

But, if a petal is shadowed, that means NO sunlight is falling directly on it. This can happen because it's being shadowed by another petal, or just because that particular petal is facing away from the sun, right? Here, Ms. Wolf is speaking only of the petal facing away from the sun. The sole source of illumination on this petal is therefore the indirect light of the sky (which is blue, on a cloudless day, whether you've learned to see that yet or not ).

Of course, when a petal is shadowed from the direct light of the sun by another petal, if that second petal is colored (not white), and is somewhat translucent (rather than opaque), the light passing through the shadowing petal onto the shadowed petal can also be colored by the petal -- just as if it were passing through a filter!

But that's not what she's referring to in the specific text you quoted. She is only referring to petals lit by the sun (directly) and petals shaded from the sun (and therefore, lit primarily by indirect, blue, 'sky' light.

It sounds as if she's referring to a situation in which the sun is low in the sky, btw. Is this morning/evening condition? It doesn't matter, though. Go look at any surface in your yard, even blades of grass: Some are directly lit by the sun, and others are not. Right? The ones that are NOT lit by the sun are a bit bluer. I understand that can be hard to see, but you can surely see the opposite: The ones directly lit by the sun are yellower, a more 'yellow-green' than the shadowed green of the other blades of grass.
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Old 12-05-2005, 12:24 AM
lpb lpb is offline
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Re: Flowers reflecting sky vs. sun

Thank you Carol. This helps. (She makes no reference to time of day.) I understand about direct sun vs. not. She further distinguishes between areas "reflecting the sky", those in cast shadow, and those receiving reflected light. Not all areas in direct light will be vertical and not all areas reflecting the sky will be horizontal, will they? I guess that part still confuses me. Thanks.
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