Painting of a lotus by Lynnette Horn

Following the Light

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. I haven’t been able to get out much, with all the Easter brunch preparations, but the windows are open, the sun is shining and a lovely breeze is flowing through the house.  I’m sitting here, watching the light dance across the carpet in rhythm with the curtains as them billow in the breeze.

It got me thinking about light in terms of art. In my painting it seems I am always following the light.  Of course, the brightest light and the darkest shadows will be the main interest in any painting. This is the money spot where I want my audience to linger. It’s call the point of focus and can be within a larger focus area. But, I don’t want my viewer to only see the point of focus, or why would I bother painting the rest of the canvas. I can use the path of the light to lead the viewer’s eye around the painting.

Besides a direct main light source, another light to take into consideration is ambient light. It bounces off of everything, creating light even in the shadows. That’s why shadows are not totally black. Think of a cloudy day when the sun is blocked by the clouds. There is still like but it isn’t coming directly from the sun, but bouncing off the clouds. Then there is reflective light.  This can seem confusing to the novice artist. Picture an apple on a counter and the sun shining in from the window on it. Light bounces off its shadow , creating a reflective light on the apple. The light appears on the shadowed side. How cool is that?

If I’m painting a realistic apple I need to give it a reflective light on it’s darker side, or it won’t look real. As you practice with your artist’s eye, follow the light and see where it takes you. Take a look at my painting above. Where is the light coming from? Do you see any reflective light? What about ambient light? Let me know if you found this blog helpful or if you have any suggestions for future blogs.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Following the Light

  1. Sheila Landry

    Light is so important to the success of the painting. Not only as a ‘source’, but also in the value scale. Reflective light is usually so much softer than the point where the direct light is illuminating the subject. Using values of light correctly when painting adds so much to realism. It takes some practice to get the hang of it sometimes, but once we do, it begins to come naturally and we are well on our way to making beautiful paintings. It all works together like instruments in a symphony orchestra. Training ourselves to look through artists’ eyes and being aware of light and dark is a great step in the right direction.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Lynnette Post author

      When you think bout it, painting is all about light. Thanks for your input. It is such a big topic so only wanted to touch on it for now. Like Peggy said, “Keep it short.” lol

      Like

      Reply
    1. Lynnette Post author

      Thanks, Joe. I’m starting off with beginner, novice advice. I’m sure it is all old hat to you, but stay tuned. I’ll have something for everyone eventually. As a teacher, you know how important it is to teach your students how to think and see in terms of art. That’s what I’m trying to do here in the beginning.

      Like

      Reply
  2. Marge Kelly Coughlin

    Well said. As a teacher it is so hard at times to get the students to understand this. I generally bring in objects to get this across to them.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Lynnette Post author

      I like to teach reflective light with a still life set up in a dark box and a flashlight. It’s a great tool for teaching the nature of shadows too.

      Like

      Reply
  3. uranium fuel cycle

    Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and energy to
    put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting.
    But so what, it was still worth it!

    Like

    Reply

Please tell me what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s