Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cast Shadow in the Foreground

I painted a watercolor demo during a daylong visit to Favilli Studio, a multidisciplinary design group in South Pasadena. 

I walked down to the Arroyo with a group of designers and chose this view toward the York Avenue Bridge. I wanted to paint the forms—arch bridge, trees, and embankment—as realistically as I could.

But the light was overcast the whole time, so I decided to invent some light and shadow effects. 

I figured that I could make the planes of the retaining wall much more clear if I cast a foliage shadow across it, with the dappled spots of light following the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal planes.

The cast shadow serves two purposes. It invites the viewer to move from the dappled foreground shadow, where they seem to be standing, into the brightly lit middle ground, where Jeanette is standing.

The foliage shadow also helps to define the plane changes as the ground slants up and over the embankment wall.

Shadows can be a powerful tool for expressing plane changes, as Arthur Guptill demonstrates in this plate from Color in Sketching and Rendering (1935).
Previous posts:
Learn more methods in my video  Watercolor in the Wild


Jim Hartlage said...

Beautiful work as always.

Karen Eade said...

That is fantastic. I am going to print this post out and pin it above my drawing board as a reminder how much better it is possible to be if you are not a slave to the photograph. So inspiring. Thank you.

Steve said...

Great painting, as always. Did the photo of you -- almost looks like a Polaroid print -- clipped to the left side of the sketchbook serve some purpose?

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Jim and Karen.

Steve, the little Polaroid was a gift from one of the folks that was hanging out with me. I didn't know they still made such cameras.

Unknown said...

masterfully done!
i'm learning from a Master :)

Penny Taylor said...

You never cease to amaze me. I live across town south of here & you've made this look like a tranquil historical setting... WHEN YOU'RE NO MORE THAN 20' FROM ONE OF THE LOUDEST, BUSIEST FREEWAYS IN THE UNITED STATES!

Penny Taylor said...

You never cease to amaze me. I live across town, south west of this local. You make it seem like a tranquil historical setting... WHEN IT'S NO MORE THAN 40' FROM ONE OF THE LOUDEST, BUSIEST FREEWAYS IN THE COUNTRY! ;-)