I've been going outside to paint for several years.
I never know if the painting I bring home will be a gem or a dud.
The gems keep me going back outside.
I don't spend much time outside during the winter months.
It is just to much trouble to try and stay warm and fight all the other problems
I have to deal with when I paint outside. I work in the studio in the Winter.
There are plenty of art related things to do to keep me busy while I'm inside.
There are videos to watch, books to read, large paintings to paint.
You get the idea. One of the things I try to do is learn new things about
painting. My main focus this Winter is shadows. They have always given me trouble when I am outside so I thought I would knuckle down and try to learn as much as I could. Following are my findings and thoughts about shadows in general and as they relate to landscape painting.
First, lets discuss photos and shadows. Cameras can only handle a relatively narrow range of values. If you take a picture of a Sun lit scene the shadows do not reflect enough light into the camera lens so the camera misses most of the color that is in the shadows. This is why artist say, "pictures lie". They don't tell the truth about colors in shadows. HDR photos help a great deal, but still there is nothing like being outside and seeing into the shadows with your own eyes. Pictures lie in other ways, but since this is a discussion about shadows, we'll ignore those for now.
Your eyes are constantly adjusting to the amount of light available. When you look into shadows your pupils open wider and you see plenty of color in the shadows.
Let's talk about the color of shadows. Depending on who you talk to, you might get many answers to the question concerning what color shadows are in the landscape. Before we complicate this topic lets state a couple of facts about shadow colors in their purest form.
Fact number one: The color of a cast shadow is the complement color of the light source. For example, if the light source is yellow, the cast shadow will be violet. If the light source is blue, the cast shadow will be orange. Remember, I'm speaking of light and shadow in it purest form. That means the cast shadow is being cast on a white base so that it does not pick up any other reflected color. I've seen this using a light box and it works just as I've said. How does this happen? The reason the cast shadow is the complement of the light source is because the object casting the shadow blocks the source light color. If the source light color is removed, the only colors left for the cast shadow are exactly the colors you need to make the complement of the source light.
Fact number two: Sunlight is white. Remember good old Isaac Newton and his prism? Every physics book talks about how he demonstrated that white sunlight is made of all the colors we see in a rainbow. So in it's basic form, sunlight is white. Granted, we would have to be above our atmosphere and its' effect on sunlight to see the Sun's pure white light, but in its' purest form, it is white.
So, if we take fact number one and two together, we get white sunlight and black shadows. How boring is that? Lucky for us, there are many things that happen with shadow and light to help us landscape painters make our paintings much more interesting.
I think that is enough for now.
In my next entry I'll discuss the three main sources of light when we are outside painting and how they effect shadows.
Bye for now.