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!