I love to paint looking into the light. Rim-lighting and, especially, glare—glare off water, sand or pavement—are some of my favorite lighting effects. Getting the effect of glare in paint, though, is difficult. If you paint like a tonalist, you may end up with something more akin to a nocturne. To keep the picture in the daylight, you need to paint like an impressionist.
Here's one painting I did recently along the Verde River. It was mid-morning, and the light was blindingly bright off the water. I worked with a limited palette of earth colors (raw umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre) and painted tonally. To establish the feeling of glare, I had to step down the values of everything dramatically. As you can see, there's a big chunk of the tonal scale missing between the glare, which is my lightest value, and the rest of the painting. When I took it back to the studio, I noticed the only thing keeping it from becoming a nocturne were the rich, dark colors.
I decided to make another stab at painting this scene. I took my usual split-primary palette (a cool and warm version of each of the three primary colors) and purposely worked to keep the overall key higher. In order to achieve the glare effect, I juxtaposed complementary colors. Painting glare successfully requires you to manage both color and temperature contrasts. Value has only a little to do with it.
For the main part of the glare, I used the lightest tint of yellow I could manage. I surrounded this with a tint of the complement, violet, making it just a step lower in value. Finally, I dabbed into the center of the glare area pure white. This alternated cool and warm to enhance the effect of the adjacent complements. The violet is a cool note, surrounding the yellow, which is a warm note; and the white in the center is a second cool note. You can see this in the detail below.
One warning about painting glare—it's hard on the eyes. I always wear sunglasses when painting into the light. If you suffer from eye problems or migraines, you might want to paint in another direction.
Looking for green this Saint Patrick's Day? I'm pleased to announce that The Artist's Magazine
as made my Brushing Up article on greens for the oil painter available as a free download. The article appears in the June 2017 issue, but you can also download and read the article here:
I've had a lot of fun writing these articles over the years, and I've learned a lot while writing them, too. Gamblin Artists Colors and Product Manager (and artist!) Scott Gellatly have been very helpful in making these articles possible. This is the latest in my series of colors for the oil painter. My final article on the topic will come out in October. Can you guess what color it's about?
Last week, I had artist Nelia Harper in my Sedona workshop. Nelia has published a great write-up on the week on her blog. Reading it will give you a good sense of what my workshops are like. You can read her blog post here. Thank you, Nelia!
Contrary to popular belief, I've been painting. Yes, I've been designing my new web site, creating my new online course plus working on a dozen other projects, but I have indeed been painting. With that in mind, I thought I'd share with you some of my recent small plein air paintings.
"Group Portrait: Sycamores"
I love the dancer-like quality of Arizona's creekside sycamores. Degas
"Portrait: Thunder Mountain" 9x12 oil Also known as Capitol Butte and Greyback, this mountain dominates the Sedona area. I can even see it from the hilltop behind my house, ten miles south of Sedona. Purchase it here.
"Spring Creek Rush"
The creek is up due to recent rains and snowmelt. I love the way the water
As many of you know, I've developed a series of books and videos over the years that bring my plein air painting methods to folks who can't attend my workshops in person or who would like a supplement to the material I teach. Well, I'm happy to announce I've created another self-study online course.
Outdoor Study to Studio: Take Your Plein Air Paintings to the Next Level includes video demonstrations and written lectures designed to help you sharpen your skills and take your work from mere craftsmanship to Art with a capital "A." In this course, I show you how to gather field references--drawings, color studies and photographs--and then bring them to the studio where you can create a masterpiece.
The course also gives you the downloadable version of my newest book, Outdoor Study to Studio. This book goes for $24.95 paperback, so this alone makes the course worthwhile!
Until April 1st, I am offering a discount on this new course to the first 100 people who sign up. The course is normally $25, but you can have it for $20--that's a 20% discount! Coupon code is GOTOYOURSTUDIO. To learn about this course, see free previews and to sign up, go to:
For your enjoyment, I offer this introductory video (don't see the video below? go here):
It seems like more and more artists are benefiting from online self-study courses like my ones at Udemy.com. As an instructor and "content creator," these courses take a great deal of time and effort to put together, but I enjoy having them out there for folks who, for whatever reason, can't attend one of my workshops or who desire to have an always-available, online reference to my workshop material. My Plein Air Essentials course especially is designed to help someone who's never taken a workshop with me get up to speed quickly. It's great prep before taking one of my workshops! By the way, I also have many free videos on my Youtube channel. Enjoy!