Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Painting Light and Colour

Summer's Child
40 x 30
This is another painting in which my goal was to achieve a very specific effect.  In this case it was the effect of skin influenced by many different sources of colourful light: the sun at the child's back, the light of the sparkling water bouncing up onto his face; the dappled foliage reflecting into his skin; and the t-shirt adding some cool, blue notes and the shadow cast along his entire front.  Although I only had a photo that I took last year to work from, I could mine it for enough clues about colour choices that I had a starting point.  Then it was a matter of painting boldly: exaggerating some of those colours and layering them juicily together to create a vibrant and varied gray in the flesh tones.

I could add a lot of different colours as long as I kept the overall value the same in the shadow and kept consistent temperatures: cool in the shadow; warm in the light.  I know there is red in the "cool" shadow and the highlight on the boys neck has a hint of cool blue mixed with the peachy tint, but temperature, like colour is relative.  The overall impression of the shadow side is of a cool influence and the sunlit areas read warm (this is partially due to psychology: we think of the sun as warm and yellowish and so we bring that notion to a painting of sunlight.)

By keeping the face cool, the intensely-warm, backlit ear could be made to sing in comparison.  The child's ear had a sweetness to it which, along with the pensive pose, attracted me enough to take the picture in the first place.

Like every painting, this one was 1/4 part inspiration and 3/4 parts rational, problem solving.

Happy painting!


Bobbi Dunlop said...

Oh, I love this, Ingrid! One of my all-time favourites! Great post, too!

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks, Bobbi!
I was on the lookout for picturesque kids in Kelowna last week. They have to keep me in sunny paintings next winter.