August 18, 2009

Work in Progress 6

As I was working on the upper part of my painting today, I was thinking a great deal about light, and about getting a convincing depiction of different kinds of light. There is light and there is shadow or half light, but shadow also carries a great deal of light; it is not absence of light. Then there are cast shadows, which tend to be cool in color. When out painting from "life" (if I can call painting a machine on site "life"), I often make a small frame of my hands so that I can see the shadow color in isolation; when the sharp contrast with light is removed, the color in half light shows bright and clear.

In traditional painting, the lights are generally opaque and shadows transparent. I don't always follow this model, but in the case of painting this yellow plastic tank, this curved form, it works very well. I painted several layers of light yellows on the upper left; starting with very light tones, I glazed darker ones, then back to light, then a bit more saturated color, till I got a light but bright area. I wanted a sense of opacity, but with a lively touch. I've begun to get what I want in the lower shadowed but translucent areas: a rich darker yellow giving a feeling of light coming through the surface. (if you look at the enlargement, you can see some unfinished layering in the lower right.) This comes from glazing more saturated color over lighter tints.

A word about brushes: I generally use synthetic sable brushes, finding they work very well for me. A good quality synthetic will give a fine point and hold up very well over time. When I'm painting large areas such as this yellow, I like to use filberts of a mid-size, around 1/2 inch. They yield a beautiful mark, somewhere between the flat and the round. Most of the time, though, I use rounds.

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