Friday, November 17, 2017
I love drama and I usually try to create it using strong light and shadows. Recently I reviewed my files of other artists' work and realized that most of the images involved bright light. Depending on where we live many of us are faced with overcast conditions. I'll admit that I often find excuses not to paint out on those days. In low light the range of values is diminished. The contrast is less dramatic and the colors less saturated. Below is a plein air piece I painted on a very gray day-
While I was painting, a patch of blue sky developed and I quickly blocked it in using white and tiny touches of Prussian blue and cad. yellow light. Even though there is no direct sunlight on the scene this created a break from all the gray tones. After I got to the studio I pushed the color a bit more.
Here is another plein air study on a gray day-
The darks in the clouds are too dark even though I wasn't painting from a photograph. A value checker (red film) can help with this. I reworked it later to add some warmer blue showing through and added more light on the trees. I think these changes improved the painting.
Consider these thoughts about gray day paintings-
Try for a strong composition and make light and color less important.
The light does not change as quickly on overcast days so you can take more time to finish.
Look for spots of more saturated color for contrast (flowers, man-made objects, patches of blue sky showing through). These colors will sing next to all the gray.
Try enhancing atmospheric perspective (fog, mist).
Look for water reflections. Make some up by adding a pond or puddle if you can do that.
So no more excuses! Go ahead and paint out on those cloudy days. (And I'm talking to me, not you.)
Happy painting, and many thanks to artist friend Mary Houston for her input on these thoughts.