Monday, January 15, 2024

Pro Tip: Skies are a source of light

Skies are a major source of light, and they should generally be painted lighter than they appear.

A wash of very light, cool, color is often enough to convey the feeling of a blue sky. Any small form that is seen against a bright sky should also be painted or drawn lighter than it appears. You see this effect a lot in photos, especially old photos, where tree branches and wires and poles gradually become lighter and melt into the bright sky. To achieve this effect in a watercolor painting, I establish a light “ghost wash” across the whole sky and then carefully lighten the values of all forms intersecting the sky, keeping those forms in the same cool family as the sky. In the painting below, I use blue-gray watercolor pencils for drawing such forms.

1 comment:

  1. How true! I never thought of this before, yet it makes a lot of sense. We might expect a realistic painting to resemble a photograph. Photography (whether analog or digital) has nowhere near the dynamic range of the human eye's logarithmic response. Thus, the sky often appears nearly white in photographs, and might appear the same in a painting. In fact, a darker color in either one often indicates that a storm is coming. I also like the wooden pole getting lighter as you go up.


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