Monday, February 11, 2013

THE ENVELOPE OF LIGHT

FEBRUARY WARM FRONT   11x14    oil on canvas panel

THE ROAD HOME   9x12  oil on canvas panel
Here are a couple of paintings done during the wonderfully warm, unseasonal weather we've been having in central Texas.  The temperatures make it easy to get out and look for painting subjects, but things are parched and the lakes are drying up. Good luck finding a stream to paint that isn't a sad, stagnant affair!

Both of these paintings are from that quickly fleeting time of late day when the sun is laying just above the horizon casting a warm golden light through the atmosphere.  To catch this effect requires carefully tuning the palette so that all the colors share in that warmth.  Even the "cool" colors need a bit of the golden orange to create the harmony.  If you're going to try to capture this in a plein air painting, it's a good idea to pre-mix your colors, and block in the general design ahead of time so you're ready to scramble when the effect begins.  It only lasts about thirty minutes.

Actually, every time of day has its own characteristic lighting.  Painters call it the envelope of light.  All colors are influenced by differing quality of illumination. Morning's envelope is more cool in coloration, because of the settling of moisture during the night.  As a result, the atmosphere isn't so charged with the dust, pollen (eek!) and other particulates that are stirred up and rise to glow in the late, low slanting light.  The higher the sun gets the less atmosphere it has to penetrate, and thus the less the color envelope is affected by the warmth of the sun and the more it is affected by the coolness of the sky.  Our atmoshere is proportionately relative to about the thickness of an egg shell to the egg!  But what a difference it makes to life on this planet…and the color envelope!  If you're a painter, try being aware of the prevailing lighting condition and how it harmonizes color.  If you're just a lover of nature, add it to the list of wonderful things to be enjoyed and appreciated about the beauty of creation.

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