Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vertical Surfaces in Shadow

This painting by Clark Hulings (1922-2011) shows a whitewashed wall in shadow. The ground is orange-colored dirt. Warm light reflected from that dirt shines up on the wall, especially on the bottom half.

The blue of the open sky floods across the top of the wall, interrupted by a slash of direct sunlight.

This painting illustrates the principle: “On a sunny day, vertical surfaces in shadow usually receive two sources of illumination: warm ground light and blue sky light.”

The cool and warm sources alternate on the uneven surface, depending on whether the planes of the wall face a little downward or upward. Hulings achieves this effect by applying warm and cool tones over a darker mid-tone with a painting knife.

Clark Hulings website
Wikipedia on Clark Hulings
This point is explained in Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter
Hulings book: Timeless Beauty: Pursuing Life's Textures
Hulings: A Gallery of Paintings


Meera Rao said...

Great point in light and shadow explained! Thanks :) Will check out your book ASAP

Unknown said...

It's a beautiful painting, but it's really not believable for shadows! For example, look at the length, intensity and value of the shadows cast by the figure. The shadows are short, shades or tones of some color(s) and dark value.

Compare with shadows on the building wall, which are long (from some unseen distant source), tints and light value. And there are no shadows on the horizontal ground plane at all!

All of which goes to say that the painting is a wonderful personal and painterly work. It's just not consistent with how the shadows are created and used.

Sling paint!

Anonymous said...

Wow. That painting is a dead ringer for late 19th century Naturalism.

Castle in the Air said...

Just a note to say that I read Color and Light in one sitting on Saturday. This resulted in both a crink in my neck and a boundless appreciation for your work. It truly is the book I always wished I had. The only upshot that I can see in having waited this long to read it is that now I have a fair bit of life experience to relate the lessons to so that it really resonated. On the other hand if I had had it 20 years ago I sure could have saved some time!!
I look forward to seeing how it influences my work moving forward.
Thank you!

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Castle. Glad the book has been helpful. I tried to write the book that I was hunting for when I was a student.

Virgil and Etc.--those are keen observations. Most (but not all) of Hulings paintings were done from photographs, and I wonder how they would have been different had they been done purely from outdoor observation.

WW said...

It would appear that the texture made by the painting knife mimics the texture of stuccoed wall itself. This conflation of subject and depiction also happens when with fabric is depicted in tapestry. Is there a name for that? Trompe-l'oeil, perhaps?

I don't see too much wrong with the depiction of the shadows. The vertical surfaces could logically trace longer shadows and catch more light then the horizontal, ground surface, however those differences could also be exaggerated by the painter.

More warmth near the ground can also be a result of earth color splashing up onto the wall over a period of years.

Lovely painting. Clearly the artists relishes in those textured surfaces.