Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Monday Night and Wednesday Morning: Shadows

Quick! Here’s the homework, so you can go out in this sunshine and look at shadows.
Find a sunlit surface, like a tree trunk, or a dog house, with shadow on part of it,  and which casts a shadow on another surface (the ground, a sleeping dog).
How much darker is the shadow area?
How does the color change?
What kind of edge does the shadow have?
When you have the answers to all the questions, you should be able to apply the paint very confidently and efficiently. To practice getting it  “right” on the first try, resolve not to correct any of your attempts. Instead, take note of what needs to be changed and paint another version. 
Use a piece of practice paper to try out color, edges and value. When you make the overall wash for the local color (the sunlit surface), make a large patch of it on the practice sheet, too. Then you can test your shadows there and see for sure whether they satisfy you.
Please bring in all the flops.
in case it gets cloudy, here are some shadowy scenes:


  1. Hi Tom,

    if you paint shadows, what approach would you recommend?

    1. Painting them as a single layer and darker color directly on the paper and adjacent to the light areas - thus getting more transparency, or

    2. painting the base color all over and putting a second layer (like some sort of blue) on top, obtaining 2 layers but maybe more coherence, also making complex shadow shapes - as in your last photo above - easier to paint?

  2. Definitely the second treatment! Matching the edges usually results in some overlap, or a little bit of white paper left. There's nothing wrong with "easy". In fact, I think with watercolor, the easy way is the right way!