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One of the best ways to show how colours helps us to see light and shade is to get a piece of satin shredding ribbon and twist it into a bow. Lets take a bright pink as an example. The ribbon is bright pink...but when you look at the shiny bit...that is not bright pink but a pale pink, almost white, and the darker shadow areas are not bright but deeper darker ones. Take bright pink paint. Paint a square with it. Now add a little white and paint another square. Repeat this four times, lightening the colour of the pink each time. Now work in the opposite direction adding black to the original pink colour, four times and getting darker. Now look at the ribbon again...can all nine of these pinks be seen?
One way to learn to 'see' light source and how it is applied in a painting is to open your eyes and start looking for it. Take a visit to an art gallery and look at the works of old masters. This is a good place to start. Ask yourself where is the sunshine or light here? It is not likely to be in the painting but outside of it. Upper left? Upper right? Lower left or right? OK...now stand back. Imagine the wall around the painting is not two dimensional, but three. The painting is in the middle of a cube. Now where is the light? The corners nearest you? The middle nearest the painting? The corners behind the painting as you are looking at it? OK...you might not be able to visualize this straight away so practice it a few times. In the mean time, folk artists keep it simple. It is often left or right top corner. Or we break all the rules and make the centre of the design itself the light source! Take a look at some of the really traditional paintings.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|