|"Evening Light" 8x10, oil|
The painting above is obviously about the garden bench and the beautiful evening light spilling into the shadows. The trees are supporting characters, but important ones; they serve to create the shadows that serve as contrast for the light. The shadows, in a sense, make the light. They also make strong vertical elements to oppose the horizontal of the bench and the diagonal of the sloped ground. Finally, they are cool in color, a red-violet to contrast with the complementary yellow-greens.
One might generalize my statement on shadows and light to "Contrasts make the painting." A painting is built of so many different kinds of contrast. I like to think of contrast pairs: light/shadow, vertical/horizontal, cool/warm, dull/rich, hard/soft, transparent/opaque, plus a dozen more you can probably think of. One member of each pair should be dominant. This way, it makes the other, subdominant member more striking. In this painting, dark and cool are dominant, which make the warm light seem even warmer.
This is an older painting, one I did many years ago while living in the southern Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico. It's our garden bench, nestled among the alligator junipers and pinons.