Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Cliffside Cactus     12x16  oil on panel
If you squint at this you'll see that the composition is predominantly made up of shadow shapes.  I think it usually works out best if either the light or the shadows dominate sixty percent or more of the canvas.  Then, usually ( I say, again, because it may not always be so…) the emphasis of color variety will fall within the dominant group of shapes, either the light or shadows.

In landscape painting there are three basic types of light to be aware of, and they will directly influence the fun of putting color into the composition.  Direct light is most often the sunlight falling on the surface of the various forms, and it's commonly warm in color range.  Skylight comes from the dome of atmosphere above us which generally casts its beautiful cool light onto the planes of the forms that face the sky.  This is most noticeable in the open shadow areas that are able to receive the light from the sky.  Then there's reflected light.  This type of light results from direct light bouncing off of forms to influence the appearance of other forms.  Reflected light is characteristically warm, deriving its temperature from the sun light, but it is influenced by the surface color of the objects it bounces off of.  So, within the shadow shapes we can often find the lovely interplay of skylight and reflected light.  The shadow areas will have an average value range as it relates to the whole picture, however there may be a fascinating variety of color within the same shadow.  You can see this in my painting, here, the shadows laying on top of the rocks are catching the cool blue of the sky, while the vertical sides of the rocks are catching a warm "bounced" light.  If the painting were in black and white you couldn't discern that fact. Rather, you'd see the value shapes as one value.  It's an effect that makes for beautiful harmonies, and a lot of painting fun!


  1. Thanks for this very informative and inspiring blog.

  2. I'm glad to know that you found it worthwhile, Sonja. And, thank you for your comment.