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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Landscape Painting Tip of the Week...The Sun Tool

'Chasing the Sun'            12.5 x 18           pastel              ©Karen Margulis
purchase here $145
I couldn't have planned it better if I tried.  It was one of those teachable moments that I had to jump on. And now I have another tool in my bag of tricks!  I'll call it the Sunlight Tool.  What is it?  A tool that helps remind you where your light source is coming from so you can make sure your landscape painting makes sense. Here is how it came about.

In my pastel class today we are starting a new series on painting the landscape.  We were discussing how we don't always have to copy a reference photo and the subject of the light source came up. (my students always have such great questions!)  I wanted to point out that if we change the direction  of the light we needed to remember to be consistent in our treatment of the light and shadows on the entire landscape.  We can no longer rely on the reference photo. You don't want some bushes to be lit on one side and some on the other. You want to make sure the shadows fall away from the light and are consistent over the entire painting.

How can we remember to do this once we move away from the photo?  I usually like to draw a little circle on my drawing board to represent the location of the sun. It works.  But today a student happened to have a scrap paper taped to her board and on it was a bright yellow mark.  Aha!  It gave me an idea. 

 Why not have a small sun that you can position on your board to represent the location of the sun in the painting! This sun can be laminated and kept by your easel to be used in any landscape with a light source. 

I came home from class, made my sun and gave my idea a try.  Have a look at the photo above. I decided that the sun in my reference was setting. It was low in the sky and coming from behind me.  The tops of the distant trees and a small sliver of the marsh was still lit from the sun. The foreground was all in shadow.  I placed my Sun Tool on my board in the lower left. As I painted it was a visual reminder to keep my lighting consistent.

This painting was pretty straightforward but the Sun Tool will come in handy for more complicated landscapes and ones in which I change the direction of the light.

 So now When I ask myself what kind of day is it....what direction is the sun coming from and is it high or low in the sky? ....I have my own little sun to make sure I remember my answers!

watercolor underpainting on Uart with additional clear Gesso

Nest #3  Monotype with pastel      5x7
Today's nest is a monotype I had done with black ink but I added pastel for color.

1 comment:

Susan Jenkins said...

Awesome!! Will use the sunlight tool for sure! Thanks Karen!