Saturday, October 10, 2015

Guptill on Reflected Light

In his book "Color in Sketching and Rendering" Arthur Guptill recommends painting simple objects with black watercolor to study the effects of light. 

Start with uniformly colored objects set up in window light. Then, later, you can put the same objects outdoors in the sun "to acquaint you with the vitality of outdoor light."

In this demonstration example, he sets up a simple paperboard box with light coming from the left. One of the first questions to ask is which is the lightest plane (E) and which is the darkest (A and F). You can hold up a piece of cardboard of the same color next to the object and turn it in various angles to the light to see how the tones change to match those of the subject.

Even a single plane can vary a lot in tone. He notes that (a) is darker than (b) because of the falloff of the reflected light coming from the right. 

In this study, Guptill says, "interesting reflected lights have crept into the shadow tone at (A) Note how the inside corner (e) has been sacrificed to express depth and detachment."

After doing a few of these studies, it will be much easier to paint a more complex or dynamic subject, such as a building, a figure, a portrait, or an animal.
From Arthur Guptill's book Color in Sketching and Rendering.
If you like this post, you'll also like:
Arthur Guptill Renders a Window
Guptill's Right and Wrong Methods
Sepia Wash Drawing
Cast Shadow in the Foreground


Jennifer Branch said...

Thank you. Excellent article.

Virginia Rinkel said...

Really enjoyed this post. Lighting is so crucial to understanding 'movement' of the eye. Thanks.

KM Ryan said...

Thank you for this post. It seems like such a basic thing, but it is a skill I need to develop and practice, practice, practice.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Good post, and I wasn't aware of this artist. I did find his book available for reading online at:;view=1up;seq=9