Thursday, 9 July 2015

Learning About. Shadows

 Violet Shadows. 
Photograph taken in my garden this afternoon clearly showing there is colour in a shadow

When I first started painting in watercolour I could never understand why artists often painted shadows in a violet shade. It puzzled me. I would look and look but could only see dull grey shadows. And when I observed their paintings with colourful shadow work I would be charmed by the colours they used but still amazed at the artists' choice.

Of course I have grown a lot since that time and now I too paint colourful shadows.  But the memory of my early days as an artist came flooding back this afternoon. I was sat quietly painting phlox in my cottage garden.Enjoying the sunshine and listening to the buzzing of the bees. I have a small trick I use for seeing where darks would work on my floral paintings. I place my first wash of my painting next to the real plant and look at how the shadows naturally fall.  Try it. Its' such a simple technique to use if the sun is shining and you are painting outside.

But whilst I placed my paper against one plant to look for colour placement a gorgeous violet  shadow appeared and I knew it would be perfect to share on my blog. So if you look at the photograph above you can clearly see beautiful violet shadows. Notice too how the shadow is lighter at the top  to the foot of the paper. So nature is guiding me on where and how to use a shadow or bolder colour. Fascinating isn't it?

Another trick for a sunny day. 

Paint a couple of salt washes and leave them outside in the sun to dry. You will get fabulous effects. I have painted using colours left over on my palette before cleaning it. Naughty I know. I prefer clean fresh colours but the softness of the shades left were far too unique to ignore or waste.The result is below. And you can see I have started painting a rough outline of where the phlox flowers will sit inside the salt wash. I am using the beautiful salt pattern that is already there to bring the flowers to life. These patterns are guiding me on how to proceed.


 Salt patterns forming the base for a painting of phlox flowers .

"I am having so much fun. I'm like a child in a candy store only constantly looking to see what I can paint next! "


The half finished paintings already on my easel inspired me to continue with this theme of working with the white flowers in my garden. I must confess, time passes by so very quickly so unless I paint these while they are at their best they will fade as blooms and I will miss the opportunity.



Phlox paintings on my easel


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Artists tips for the day?

Learn from nature as often as possible
Look for colour in shadows.
Paint what you can, when you can and when you feel like it.

And most importantly

Make the most of every single day!

1 comment:

Eileen said...

Thanks for the tips Jean. Just done 2 dynamic washes outside. So much more freedom than doing them in the studio.