Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Controlling the Light

I went out yesterday to the hill just behind my in-laws' house. It was a nice view. A row of sugar maples edged the driveway as it ran through the field of blackberry canes and wild roses. Passamaquoddy Bay and Eastport lay in the distance. In particular, I liked the house, which last summer my in-laws painted a delicate yellow. The yellow house and the blue shadows made a lovely scene.

"Yellow House by the Sea"
6x8, oil, en plein air - SOLD
(click image for larger version)

With the evening light raking across the snow and hitting the house, it was a challenge to get the relationships of the sunlit areas right. The closest, sunlit side of the house looked intensely bright, but on closer observation, the snow was even brighter. Another challenge was the shadowed sides. Even though the side facing me square-on (the one with the single window) was in shadow, it too was very light, thanks to an abundance of reflected light. Important relationships like these are best blocked in early to avoid problems later.

Good advice, but once I was back in the studio, I saw immediately that I'd made an error. The house's sunlit side was as bright as the snow. How'd I manage that? Fortunately, I remembered what the relationships really were, and it was an easy tweak. I scraped down the sunlit side and went back in with little darker paint.

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