Thursday, January 24, 2013


QUIET OF MORNING   11x14  oil on linen panel
I have trouble making paintings out of overcast days. So, I keep trying one every now and then. Light and shade color relationships are different, values are closer, and without the definite shadow patterns, designing good shapes is a challenge.

On a sunny day the warm light of the sun brings out all the positive feeling warm colors (yellows, oranges, reds, pinks...), and the shadows take on the blue influence from receiving the reflected light of the sky.  The strong light casts interesting shadow shapes that are so nice for designing and making patterns.  Form is revealed by light, and color becomes beautiful as it is  varied to describe the form.  A sunny day just has so much to work with!

Gray days are very beautiful in their own way, but they're very subtle and more difficult to turn into a well designed painting.  To begin with the color relationships are altogether different.  The light filtered through the clouds is soft and cool, and the shadows retain more of their warmth without the blue sky to illuminate them.  The clear shadow shapes disappear and values are closer together.  Shapes are defined more by the inherent light or darkness of things, and subtle color shifts must be noticed and used to define form. The difference in effect feels much like that of the difference between a major and minor key in music.  There's a softer, more moody feeling to a gray day.  They are expressively different, and open a broader range of what the artist may have to say.   


  1. Great description of a gray day. I have always loved them - I think in Texas it is nice to have a break from the sun every now and then - but I experienced first hand yesterday morning how different they are when painting. I will go back and re-work the sketch I made while focusing on the color and value relationships you describe above. Thanks for posting!

  2. Glad to hear you're out painting, Matt. Send me a jpg now and then of what you're up to.