May 22, 2014 at 10:06 am #8206Hall GroatKeymaster
In Hall Groat’s instructional video ‘How to Paint Light,’ Groat explores the role that light plays in creating a painting that looks realistic. Light is the element that can give a painting its’ 3-dimensional quality. Light can set the mood of a painting while also creating a sense of depth. The way light behaves in space can be observed in nature in everyday life.
The first concept that Groat discusses is “form light,” which is the area on a subject that is facing the light source. This is the area that is illuminated and reveals the form of the object. As light moves away from this area, it becomes less intense and more cool. The way the light changes as it moves away from the light source depends on the object being illuminated as well as the type of light being used.
A second concept Groat discusses is wiping away paint with a paper towel when painting with a high value color such as yellow. This will prevent these colors from looking muddled. This will also intensify the areas where you are suggesting the light source hitting the subject. Using a paper towel can also help blend and soften edges for a softer visual texture. You can also use white paint to highlight certain areas of light.
A third concept Groat suggests is applying paint on thick when suggesting the light source striking the objects or forms. You can imply a directional light or a general light. A directional light indicates a specific light source, whereas a general light illuminates the entire subject as well as its’ space.
In a portrait painting I did, I felt that the light source is what really brought the model on the canvas to life. The model had very distinct facial features that could only be accentuated with highlights. However, all the elements within the painting had to be in harmony in order for the composition to make sense. The light source only illuminated one half of the model’s face, therefore the flesh tones had to be higher in value where the light was hitting. I also would have liked to apply a yellow tint to her flesh tone to make it a bit warmer. To make the painting more realistic, I could have made the negative space lighter where the light source was coming from. I also could have used the paper towel technique to highlight her eyes and cheekbones more intensely. I used some pinks and greens to accentuate some of the shadows on her face, however they came out a bit more muddled than I would have liked. I think using a paper towel to wipe away some tints would have made for a less messy painting.
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