Monday, December 16

A Tip on Painting Sunlight

A Sunny Day on the Potomoc
Oil on Canvas Panel
10 x 8 in/25.4 x 20.3 cm
Copyright 2013
I mentioned a few blogs ago how much more energy I have for painting when it's sunny outside. I'm sure each painter is different, and maybe you get energized when it's rainy, foggy, windy, cold, etc., but for me it's the sunshine.

A few years back I read something about how to paint "sunlight" that stays with me when I'm working on landscapes or sea- or cityscapes--actually any outdoor motif. I believe it was in a book about Edward Hopper when he would say, now it's time to paint in the sunlight. What did he mean?

Since a painting is nothing more than a two-dimensional illusion, I think he meant that painting "sunlight" comes from using a rather high-key palette and from the contrast in values you use on objects in sunlight versus objects in shadow. Since sunlight equals brightness, even in hazy sunshine, a brighter palette appears warmer with more intense hues as seen in natural sunlight. Painting sunlight has to do with the contrasting value you choose for the object in sunlight versus the shadow(s) associated with the object.

Here's the tip: the greater the value change from light to dark, the brighter the sun will appear in your painting. So, at high noon on a sunny day, the shadow(s) will be their darkest as compared to either early morning or late afternoon. Note that in today's image, the white, fluffy cumulus clouds also add to the illusion.

Happy painting.

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