Friday, March 23, 2018

Tips for Painting Lamplight

Jeff asks: "Any tips for conveying the effects of candlelight or lantern light in a painting?"

Jeff, yes, let's take a look at Viggo Johansen (1851-1935). He was a Danish painter in the Skagen group, and like his colleague Krøyer he loved to paint gatherings of friends around the dinner table. His painting Evening Talk includes a lantern on the table and two candles on the piano.

Viggo Johansen, Evening Talk, 1886
Johansen does a few things to make the effect of light convincing. 
1. The areas of dark are large and simple. Note how in the lower part of the picture, it's very hard to make out the details of the chairs and table legs.
2. The edges between forms in the outer areas are kept soft. Note the way he paints the framed canvases on the wall. They're quite blurry and out-of-focus.
3. The fall-off rate of the light roughly follows the inverse square law.
4. The effect area under the lantern is small, crisp, and detailed: lots of dots and sparkles.
5. The area of the lantern itself is a flat, warm white, with more or less glow or halation around it depending on the amount of smoke in the air.

Viggo Johansen, An Artist's Gathering, 1903
Wikipedia Viggo Johansen (1851-1935)
More in my book: Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (James Gurney Art)(Amazon), or Color and Light (Signed on my website)
Previously on the blog:

1 comment:

Ola said...

As always, a most interesting read. We're planning a trip to the Skagen Museum in Denmark, so I'm hoping to see a few of these paintings in person.