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Friday, July 13, 2012

Beach Week...How to Paint Shadows on Sand

'In the Shade of Magen's Bay'         8x10     pastel       ©Karen Margulis   SOLD
Beach Week continues on the blog!  I will be answering questions about painting the beach. I am using my paintings to help illustrate my answers. Today's questions deals with painting sand.

Question:  How do you paint sand so that you have natural looking value shifts? How do you paint the shadows on sand?
In order for me to get value shifts in my sand I make sure to use several values and colors in the sandy area. I will talk about sand colors in an upcoming post. I always try to put down a darker richer color for the sand and gradually lighten and brighten the color by layering lighter and lighter values. It is important to have a light touch and lightly apply the pastel so that it skips over each layer leaving some variation in the values/colors.

How about shadows?  There are all kinds of advice about painting shadows and when I was new to painting it got so confusing!  The advice about warm light = cool shadows and cool light = warm shadows especially confused me. I had a mental block about that for the longest time. So let's keep it simple.....

'In the Fleeting Light'          8x10       pastel   $75 in my Etsy store

The simplest way for me to paint shadows is to think of the shadow color to be a darker value of the object that it is cast upon plus a little sky color flavoring the shadow. So if my sand is a pale peach (and I always make the sand a color....even the whitest sand has color) I would use a darker peachy color for the shadow to start with. Then I would scumble a bit of the sky color since shadows will have some of the colors in the environment in them. Look at the first painting and see the peachy shadows to which a added just a touch of blue and purple.
This results in more colorful and interesting shadows. Many times we end up painting shadows too dark and use grey or black. Then they look dull and dirty. Use color for more exciting shadows!

12x12 pastel
I will do another post about the temperature of the light and how it effects shadow color. For now just remember that your shadows need color and then decide what colors are in the sand and darken them for shadows.

Today's painting on top is a new painting based on one I did several years ago. The Caneel Bay Resort on St. John USVI had the original printed on 30x40 canvas for all of their guest rooms. You can see the painting on their website in the room tour!


Dawn Hartigan said...

Beautiful! Thanks for the info.

Karin Goeppert said...

Thank you for this post - very interesting.

Karen said...

Thank you Dawn! Stay tuned for more!

Karen said...

Thanks for commenting Karin! More beach tips coming!

Sherry Rogers said...

I just wanted to say thank you for your generosity of sharing your knowledge. I do see so many painters whose shadows look muddy and therefore their paintings loose their life and seem drab. Love the painting! I think it's one of your best...but then I always do!

Karen said...

Thank you so much Sherry! I really appreciate your comments. I am so glad you enjoy my blog and paintings!