Saturday, January 14, 2012

Orchestrating Cloud Shadows

Russian landscape painter Fyodor Vasilyev (1850-1873) lived to be only 23 years old. But in his short life he became one of the all-time masters of stormy light, especially by means of the effects of cloud shadows.

He knew the power of cloud shadows to create mood. In this painting, "After the Rain, Country Road," the foreground is in shadow, with a patch of light in the middle distance. Note that the puddles in the foreground, even though they're in shadow, reflect the bright light of the sky.

In this one, he lit the foreground with a fringe of light, and placed the cloud shadow immediately behind it.

In the new Feb/March issue International Artist magazine I explore  the subject of cloud shadows. I include the "Three Rules of Cloud Shadows" and three different painting techniques for achieving them.

The issue also has a special on wildlife, with Aleksandar Alexov's brooding miniatures, and there's also a profile of fantasy painter Brom.
Where to learn more
International Artist magazine
Wikipedia on Vasilyev
Biography and more samples at Olga's Gallery
The topic is also covered in Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter(Amazon) Get a signed copy of Color and Light


*jean* said...

i am always in awe when i visit here, thanks for the beautiful insights and for introducing me to this amazing artist...

Eileen said...

Thank you again for a wonderful and inspiring post. I just googled Vasilyev's work - oh, I am a happy woman!

Janet Oliver said...

Dear Mr. Gurney,
This comment may be rather long-winded; I hope you will bear with me. I recently re-discovered your blog (my older son [who grew up with "Dinotopia"] pointed me in its direction several years ago) after purchasing your latest books, "Imaginative Realism" and "Color and Light." What a pleasure. Your blog is a place for inspiration and encouragement. Your books are the education I didn't get in art school. I returned to college (University of NC at Greensboro) as an adult student in 1995, with one goal in mind: to learn what I needed to know in order to become a children's book writer and illustrator. After earning my MFA in 2002, I was offered a job at UNCG as an instructor of drawing and art history. I accepted, but in doing so,I allowed myself to become sidetracked into an academic career. I thought I was on the road to success as a teacher, but after three LONG years, I could no longer bear the territorial politics of the department, and left in 2005. In order to make up for the lost income, I took other jobs outside the home, all the while using my lunch hours and early mornings to try to get back to illustrating, and teaching myself the techniques that I had originally hoped would be taught in school. However, financial strains clouded my enthusiasm for my projects, and working on them became more of a chore than a joy. I convinced myself that I was too old to be just starting off, that my work wasn't good enough, that no one would be interested, that the publishing industry is dead, and that I had missed the boat. Until I received your books. I've spent the last three days reading them, marking them up, making to-do lists, inventing new projects, and figuring out how to pick-up where I left off. Now I have a plan, and new hope that I will actually finish my current book and get it published. I want to thank you with all my heart for rekindling my desire to work at my art, and keep to my original goal.
All the best,
Janet Oliver

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Jean and Eileen.

Janet, wow, what a story. Keep on that path--you're on to great things.

Janet Oliver said...

Thank you, Mr. Gurney!

Linda Navroth said...

One of my favorite things about your blog is learning about artists I've never heard of. I've had many hours of 'going down the rabbit hole' looking further into their art and backgrounds.