I’m blogging about painting light today. It seems appropriate as the lights are quickly dimming on the old year but with a new light on January 1st. Yes, I know that’s corny—but whatever.
To me painting light is the most intriguing aspect of painting in any medium, really—watercolor, oil, pastel, or acrylic.
The Impressionists certainly thought so. Their new-fangled way of painting was all about just that--painting light
It’s what I notice first when I look at a painting. It’s not that I consciously think, “Now where is the light source coming from?” or anything like that.
But the light is what illuminates the objects in a painting, of course. It’s what sets the mood. It tells the viewer almost everything he or she needs to know about the painting. Is it day, night, dusk, dawn, inside, outside, sunlight, moonlight? How bright is the light? What kind of shadows and reflective light are there?
I would go so far as to say that light is the most important thing in your painting. More important than hue, value, composition, or even the motif itself. Now that’s saying a lot, but I do believe that.
Just think about some of the paintings you most admire or some of the paintings of your favorite artists. You probably think the style or technique is what draws you to them. But I would venture to say it’s the light.
For example, as you know, Edward Hopper is one of my favorite painters. He is famous for painting light and shadow. Think about his famous painting, Nighthawks. It’s that eerie light emanating from overhead, with its yellow-y glare, juxtaposed against the darkness outside the diner that makes that painting what it is. That’s why it’s enduring.
Light can be soft or dramatic. The effect is what you’re after. Light will make or break your painting. Learn to paint it well.
Until next blog…