...and a few tips on painting natural light effects a la Impressionsts...
The big Olive Grove painting is finally finished!! Last week the framers came and took it away from my studio, and I'm just waiting for them to call me. It should be done by the end of the week. I've never worked with these guys before, but they seemed very professional and they work with some of the galleries in town, so I'm not worried. I'm just really excited and anxious to see this baby framed properly and hung!
I will post a large file of the entire painting later on, but here are some detail shots as a sort of an appetizer.
Unlike the cityscapes I'm working on right now, this painting is very Impressionist. You can see the short, choppy strokes and the characteristic high key shadows that lean heavily towards blues and violets. If you look at the ground plane in the background, you can see just how close the values are between the lit areas and the shadows, and that the hues are complementary.
In the foreground, (still talking about the light and shadow relationship on the ground plane) the value jump increases. Actually, the value of the light side doesn't change as much as the shadow. By systematically bringing them closer as we recede into the distance, we have the basics of atmospheric perspective. And this painting has a lot of that.
Another key element of depiction of natural light –and this isn't limited to high-key Impressionist approaches– is that although the warm light / cool shadow temperature relationship is maintained throughout, the darkest darks in the foreground is almost always warmer than the surrounding shadow areas which are lighter in value. It's no surprise when we consider that the shadows are generally cool because 1) sunlight is warm, therefore the shadows must be cooler by comparison, and 2) The secondary light source, the greatest of which is the blue sky, affects the shadow areas. The darkest darks, or "dark accents" represent areas in the shadow where it's not affected very much by the sky. So by comparison, they are likely to be warmer.
Another favorite Impressionist trick (OK, it's not a trick. It's not even an optical illusion. Just a handy painting tip) ; When painting something whose color is difficult to discern... say, something gray like a tree branch in the shadowy parts of the foliage, or some small element - a twig, or telephone poles and wires against a dominant background like the sky– ignore its true local hue, and let it be influenced by its surrounding colors. Keep the value, borrow the hue. I used this idea to paint the branches in the first and the fourth pic dark blue. The same with the little twiggy parts. Notice the bigger branch in the first pic is not as blue as the smaller one? That's part of the diffraction rule (or was it refraction?); given the same local color, the smaller the shape, the more it will be affected by the surrounding color.
Next time you paint telephone poles and wires against a blue sky, try it. Paint them a darker shade of the sky instead of the local gray. If you do it right, it'll help you achieve a greater sense of light and atmosphere.