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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Painting Shadows & Light on Snow Part 2...The Light

'After the Storm'             8x10           pastel         ©Karen Margulis
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"Take that pure white pastel out of the box!"
That was advice I got a few years ago. So I did and I rarely use white in my paintings. Oh,  I will use an occasional spot of pure white for a highlight but most of the time I can't even find my pure white in my box.

Instead I use very light values of many colors in my lightest or white objects.  I try to create the illusion of white with my light values and by surrounding them with darker colors.

My favorite lights are Diane Townsend soft line and any Terry Ludwig light pastel. These pastels are not white but are very pale values of colors. See the pale blue on the left and pale yellow on the right?

To paint the white in snow it helps to remember that white snow is reflective. It reflects the color of the light so if the light is warm, the snow will have a warmth to the white such as a pale pink, peach or yellow.  If the light is cool the snow will reflect this coolness. Doug Dawson explains it so well in his book 'Capturing Light & Color in Pastel'.

  • At sunrise or sunset the light reflected by the snow is pink or orange.
  • Shortly after sunrise it turns yellow-orange.
  • Later in the morning is becomes yellow.
  • It starts to cool off around noon and becomes yellow-green.
  • From noon to sunset the process reverses itself.

Close up showing the light colors in the white!

It is important to remember that these colors also become cooler into the distance due to the effects of aerial or atmospheric perspective.  And sometimes it is hard to see these shifts but we do need to address them and often exaggerate them. This is what helps me:
  • The snow in light is brightest and warmest in the foreground.
  • As it recedes into the distance it becomes cooler and duller....yellow then orange then red is filtered out.
  • The snow in the distance tends to be duller often a dull greyed pink.
There are always exceptions to this idea but it is a good starting point. You need to pay attention to the light and the color of the light and snow.  I saw an excellent post on Facebook by Liz Haywood-Sullivan.  She suggested that artists observe the snow at different times of day and under different lighting conditions and keep a Snow Diary with color swatches and notes.  I think this is an excellent idea for those of you who live in areas that get snow!


Keiu Kuresaar said...

Hi Karen,
I love your blog and your paintings!

I feel I must introduce myself to you, because I have followed your blog for several days quietly now, read almost all your posts, tried to interpret some of your demos, but I have not said anything yet - so, I feel its not fair :)
As I have just found this art bug again in me I find your blog most generous, well explaining everything to the beginner. Lovely. I only hope you have the energy to keep up blogging.
Here´s once again my thanks to you.
Best wishes from the other side of the world.

from Estonia

Keiu Kuresaar said...

Hi Karen,

I love your paintings and your blog!
I have followed your blog for several days now, read almost all your posts, tried to interpret some of your demos.

So I consider myself as your long-distance student - from the other side of the world - I´m from Estonia.

As i browsed through many pastel blogs I found yours, and I like your paintings, as they really include sth mysterious and suggestive.

I also like to thank you for the tips and generous information about pastels for the beginner.

thanks again and hope you have the energy to keep up blogging.

Greetings from Estonia,
Keiu Kuresaar

Karen said...

Thank you very much Keiu! It is noce to meet you here and I am so glad that my blog has been helpful! I appreciate hearing from you and hope you will continue to visit!
Thank you!!!

Keiu Kuresaar said...

oops, i thought the first comment just disappeared from my screen so i wrote another one. well - "topelt ei kärise" (double stitch doesnt break), as the proverb goes.

I will continue to visit!