Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Michael Chesley Johnson - Mountain Shadows

"Sun & Shadow," 9x12, pastel

How do you depict peek-a-boo sunshine on the hills? Lately, here in New England and the Canadian Maritimes, we've had a lot of clouds. They make for some wonderful patterns of sun and shadow on the hillsides.

The trick with depicting this kind of sun and shadow lies in controlling the contrast of light and dark. We are so pulled in by the brilliant patches of sunlight that they seem brighter than they are. But if you paint them too bright, they will merge with the bright sky and no longer seem to be part of the hill. Also, watch the color temperature. Although there were some rich spots of fall foliage in this scene, they were cooler in temperature than sunlit trees closer by. As you can see in the painting, these were more of a red-violet than red or orange. To further enhance the light on the hills, I kept the foreground dark and mysterious. (9x12, pastel)

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