Paintings by Wyn Easton

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spare Room

"Spare Room" oil on canvas panel 6x8

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Art Talk - About Shadows Part III

When we paint we should use a combination of what we see and what we know.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "paint what you see". The problem is we don't always see what we think we see. Put another way, our minds adjust reality to make sense of what we are looking at. When this happens, we need to rely on what we know to paint what is there and not what we think we see. 

What does this have to do with shadows? There are some "laws" about light and shadows that painters need to know and obey to create pictures that fit somewhere in the realm of reality. I stated earlier that the color of a cast shadow is the complement color of the color of the light source. This is simplified to the first law of shadow and light; warm light has cool shadows while cool light has warm shadows. 

Coolness or warmness of colors is a relative term. If someone asks you if a color is warm or cool, your reply should be, "compared to what other color?" 

If we look at a color wheel, we see that there are three primary colors; red, yellow, and blue. In their primary states, without adding any other colors, there is only one cool color, blue. It makes sense then that the warmest color is the combination of the other two primaries, which is orange. 

The only way to cool a color is to add blue to it. So, when we say that we have warm light and cool shadows, we are saying that all of the shadow colors have some blue in them. We are not saying that the shadow colors are right out of the tube blue, but that the shadow's colors are relatively cooler than the local color of whatever we are seeing in the shadows. So, we can have cool yellows, and reds, and oranges in our shadows. All made cooler by adding blue. 

Note: Adding white to a color will also have a cooling effect. This has more to do with aerial perspective and the fact that we painters use pigments rather than pure color theory.  

Stop and think for a moment what doors this opens for adding variety to your painting. Yellow and blue yields green. Red and blue yields violet. Putting greens and violets in the shadows adds life to a painting. Knowing that those colors are in shadows frees your mind to see them and exploit them to your advantage as a painter. 

To be continued...

Monday, March 03, 2014

Art Talk - About Shadows Part II

About Shadows - Part II

In part one of my series of articles about shadows in the landscape we learned that; a cast shadow's color is the complement of the color of the light source.
Also, the light from the Sun is white in its' most basic form.
These facts are good to know because they give us a base to start from when we look out at a scene before we start to paint. 

There are three sources of light that we should consider, and exploit when we are painting outside. They are: sunlight, sky light, and reflected light.

There are many reasons that the light that enters our eyes is transformed from the basics that I mentioned. The biggest factor is Earth's atmosphere.
The atmosphere acts like a prism. It transforms the white light from the Sun to one or a combination of the bands of light we see in a rainbow. The most dramatic changes happen early in the morning and just before the Sun sets when the angle of the Sun's light enters the atmosphere at its' most dramatic angle. The angle of the Sun constantly changes all day long. The Sun is by far the dominate light source, but we shouldn't forget about the two other sources of light. Sky light and reflected light are very important.

We see objects because of the light reflecting off of them. We can see into most shadows when we are outside. Therefore, there must be some light bouncing off of all the objects we can see in the shadows. If the main light source, the Sunlight, is blocked, everything we see in shadows is visible because of skylight or reflected light. If you want to see what shadows would look like without skylight or reflected light, go into your closet just before you go to bed and turn the light off. What do you see? That is how shadows would look outside without skylight or reflected light.
In my next installment I'll discuss how we can use the information presented here in our paintings. 

Three Apples

"Three Apples" oil on canvas panel 6x8

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Art Talk - About Shadows

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.

Art Talk - Introduction

Hello - Today I am adding something different to my blog. I'm going to call it "Art Talk". If you want to find these entries, you can search my blog on that title for the entries. 

Making pictures involves many things; Knowledge, practice, materials, inspiration, but most of all, desire. Notice that I didn't mention talent. Lucky for me, making pictures is something you can learn to do. 

I can't practice for you, but I can, I hope, help with some of the other aspects of picture making.
I hope that when you read my Art Talk entries, they stir interest, and discussion. I will be able to join in the discussions and answer some of the questions. I'm hoping that others will join in and share their knowledge, and by all means, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. No one knows everything about picture making, especially me. I hope we all learn as much as possible from the discussions these future entries might invoke.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Cool Drink

6x8 oil on canvas panel "Cool Drink"

Sunday, October 06, 2013


12x16 oil on stretched canvas "Quackers"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pond and Trees

11x14 oil on canvas panel "Pond and Trees"

Great weather for painting outside.


8x10 oil on panel "Boats"

Practice painting boats.