You see this most often when a tree trunk appears light against its surroundings near the ground, and then switches to become darker than the sky higher up.
Ted Kautzky, a watercolor and pencil instructor from the mid-20th Century, used it on the tree trunk and on the bannister railing in this black and white drawing.
I exaggerated the effect of counterchange when I painted this view of Segovia. Clouds were passing over the scene, throwing sections of the city in and out of shadow. I tried to capture the moment when the top of the tower fell into shadow, while the middle section remained in light. I then adjusted the sky tones lighter or darker to bring out the contrast.
Here’s a detail of a painting by Bouguereau. The masses of foliage switch from light-against-dark at left to dark-against-light at right. At the dividing line in the center where the changeover takes place, the definition of the leaves is deliciously amorphous and painterly.
Counterchange can take place along an edge, as it does along this roofline. (Incidentally, I was also thinking of the Windmill Principle, mentioned on an earlier post. I’ve marked the other two “vanes”: next to the sections where they appear.)
Counterchange doesn’t always have to be a complete reversal of tones. Arthur Streeton gets a striking effect on this painting by switching from a dark-against-light silhouette at the top to a light-against-light relationship at the right of the picture. In a strange way the result is more satisfying than if he had contrived a dark cloud behind that illuminated section of the building.
Tomorrow: Art By Committee