Monday, August 4, 2014

Reflections on "Aha's"

Reflections on "Aha's"
Oil on Gessoboard

Today was a day of Aha's for me!  One "Aha" was that I now know that I really enjoy sharing what I'm learning with other artists!   Two, was that in doing so I got the satisfaction of experiencing my fellow artists having"Aha's" as well.   Three, this as we all tackled a concept that I first heard about from Kevin Macpherson in his key note address at the Plein Air Convention in April that packs a big punch of AHA!   (Amazing that I had never come across this wisdom in my years painting, but perhaps I just had to hear it when I was ready.)

What Kevin mentioned then, is that one of the secrets to a successful painting is never having light and shadow cross paths.
At the time I had no real clue what he was talking about.   And it wasn't until I read Liz Wiltzen's excellent blog post on the subject, along with her great pictures and explanations, that I could finally start to grasp how the "Power of Black and White" can help in understanding "the Essential of Truth Light and Shadow".   Take a look, read her blog and see if you will find it a little eye-opening as well!

What I added to her explanation in our lesson was to use acetate/vellum to put over our reference photos to very easily be able to distinguish the 2 values.  We would use a black sharpie to cover everything in shadow and leave what was in sun-light alone, creating a really strong graphic and still readable design, even without all the detail.  

This step really helps in, of course; simplifying!   It also helps me see how I can make the painting and the design stronger, whether my focal point works and how I can strengthen that focal point.  It's a also a good start-off point for creating areas of abstraction.

For someone who continually has struggled with "detailitis", "licking the canvas" and loosing my light and dark pattern this is a great exercise to practice!

Happy Painting!


  1. Great post and I did check out Liz Wiltzen's blog. It was aha for me as well! Loving those robots, too.

  2. Thanks for passing on the learning Annette! And I love your additional step. :-)


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