Sunday, 31 March 2013

Injecting Dramatic Lighting into your Paintings

    In a painting in any medium, treatment of light is a vital consideration. While the landscape photographer has to work with available light, artists can manipulate it to their advantage, changing it, intensifying it, rendering a much softer, atmospheric light or create a dramatic sense of light and dark, and so much more. It pays to study how the top artists have treated the light in their compositions when you visit an important exhibition or collection.

    This scene on the Norfolk coast shows part of the composition bathed in late afternoon sunlight, as it throws the emphasis on the central building, the two figures and the boats. I achieved hard edges on the buildings set against a dark sky by using masking fluid, rubbing it off once the background washes had dried, and then painting in the details on the buildings and the rest of the scene, completing everything apart from the shadows in the foreground. At that point I often trundle off for a coffee, or if it's late I'll finish for the day. This allows the washes to dry completely - in fact I'll often get on with another painting at that point.

    With the whole painting completely dry I wash clean water right across the foreground, taking it up into the lower sky area. Make sure that you take the water some distance beyond where you intend to create the soft edge, as water has a habit of creeping further than you might think. I then apply a mixture of French ultramarine and cadmium red over the shadow area, including the darkened left-hand buildings and the far right-hand hedgerow. This wash blends nicely into the wet paper, creating soft-edged shadows, with the area I wished to highlight being left untouched. If you are a little wary of this technique try it out firstly on old paintings that have not worked well, so that if things really do go wrong it won't matter.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Painting sparkling water and shafts of sunlight

    I've been off the air for some time because the blog site was being transferred to a new site linked to our new website. Alas, not only has it taken rather a long time, but the blog I created did not get out to folk. I'm sorry about this delay, but as we don't want to inconvenience people I am reverting to the old blog. Jenny has put a lot of work into trying to get things to work, and while she has done brilliantly on the website, it has been frustrating for her on the blog side of things.

     Our new exhibition starts at Art Matters in the White Lion Street Gallery in Tenby on Saturday 30th March, and continues until the 28th April. You can view the paintings on their website Jenny's work is in pastel and mine in watercolour, and we will be there from 11 am to 4 pm on 30th March. The painting below is one of the watercolours I am exhibiting, although it does not show the whole picture.

    The scene shows sunbeams falling over Dinas Fach on the Pembrokeshire coast. To create the ragged edges to the clouds I stroked the blue-grey sky colour on with the side of a large round brush, rather than using the point. The shafts of sunlight were left until the very end of the painting, when everything was dry: I simply put two pieces of thin card together, slightly apart with the lower sections splayed out slightly more than the top parts, and then with a soft sponge soaked in clean water I stroked downwards over the lower sky and the craggy headland. I then did the same with the second shaft. It's important to ensure that all the shafts of light come from the exact same spot, even if as in this case, the sun itself is hidden behind cloud.

    Sparkling water can give a lovely inviting appeal to a scene, and this was achieved by spattering masking fluid over the area with a toothbrush, masking out those parts that I wanted to avoid spraying. I did add a few more little spots of masking fluid with a fine brush afterwards, where these were needed. When the masking fluid was dry I then painted over it with the sea colour, eventually removing the grey-coloured masking fluid to reveal the sparkling area. Shafts of sunlight work well with sparkling water, and you can add this to your sea, lake or river scenes when you wish to beef them up a bit.