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Monday, February 25, 2013

Greenland Outbuildings-

Finishing Touches?
Here is the "finished" painting from light and shadow. I didn't think I had done that much to it since I originally posted it, but now I see I did more than I thought. I basically had the structure in and none of the details that pull it all together. So, a quick rundown. I sharpened the value contrasts by going darker on the roof of the central building and pulling out that roof line on the right and tying that dark into the roof of the buildings to the right of it. I also followed the cast shadow from the chimney on the roof to the horizon line to the left and connected it all together. I then added the light "snow" to the left edge of the roof line but left the darks to give the impression of holes. On the shadow side of the house I carved out just a few missing boards to give visual interest. On the front basically the same thing, except in the light. you can see that by going a few shades darker it carved out the trim board that had fallen from the roof line.
On the house to the left I added the flag pole and its cast shadow and a few other verticals, which give a repetition of verticals across the painting, especially with the addition of the grasses and the miner's candles. When putting the grasses in I was thinking about pattern and flow.
The last thing was to darken the snow in the lower left hand corner, which anchors the scene. 
I have been asked where these buildings are located. If you live in Colorado, this scene is off of 1-25 south, about half way between Denver and Colorado Springs. It is the Greenland exit and you go to the right when you exit heading to the Springs. There is a parking lot for hikers as there are buttes to the west. There is a working ranch as well as this "ghost" town of Greenland. Along with old abandoned houses, there is a corral that is of great visual interest. I meet a painter friend from the Springs here to plein air paint since it is halfway and there is plenty to paint.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Local Tone-A Walk in the Park-Winter

A Walk in the Park, oil on board, 24x18
Finally think this is finished, at least for now. I see a few picky things I might see to at some point in time, but overall I am satisfied. The light, medium and dark groups read well; the medium groups itself with the darks, so in that that, it is successful. The figure ties nicely into the background, yet gives good balance to the trees on the left. It looks cold and wintery.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Light and Shadow as a visual approach

What once was Greenland, CO, oil on linen, 20x30

We are done with this month's visual approach and I have yet to write a post on it. Light and Shadow is pretty self-explanatory; where there is light, there is a shadow. Simple, right? Not so much. This approach does use elements we have touched on previously, which makes it that much more challenging. How to incorporate them all into this visual approach? First think dark/light pattern. It is a good thing when starting a light and shadow painting to think of the large dark shape vs the light shape, what kind of pattern does it create? Then you must decide if you are going to tell the story in the light or in the shadow. One of them will dominate or have more detail and break down of shapes and color and the other will  be simplified. This is where you can spot a painter unclear of the concept and I made this error for a long time. ie Putting the same amount of detail in both the light and the shadow.

So, you lay out your composition with the dark/light pattern, then what? Add your middle value; There is a half-tone or the bridge between the light and the shadow. This is where Local Tone enters (remember, local tone has three values, light, medium and dark)The thing that keeps Light and Shadow separate from Local Tone is that local tone is flat; light and shadow has more form as you have the light source and highlights. When adding the light source you have to decide if the light is cool or warm. If it is a warm light on a sunny day, the shadows will be cool. If the light is cool, the shadows will be warm.You must also determine the direction of the light source; is it front lit, top lit, back lit, or lit from below or coming in at an angle. The light will hit the planes of the objects in a pattern and similar plane shifts will have similar values of light hitting them.

Kevin painted on my project because I wanted a demonstration of using gradation in my sky. Gradation is also an element of Light and Shadow. From right to left it was to be warm color moving to cool, and from light to dark; then from the top to bottom, dark to light and cool to warm. I can do one direction of the other but was not quite sure how to do both directions at once. I did give it a college try but was not satisfied with the results. His version of my sky, in the photo above is very gradual, and truthfully, I really only see the top down gradation and not so much the right to left. But be that as it may, it was helpful to me to see how he approached it.

I am still not finished with this painting and I missed the critique. There are lots of dried grasses coming through the snow that will add a nice contrast to the blue sky and snow, as well as give an overall warmth to the scene. As you can see, lots to think about when working with light and shadow, but it becomes second nature once you get all these things working together.