Errors Into Assets
I'm completely mesmerized by the dazzling effects of sunlight, so creating sun-drenched watercolors is a joy for me. Thereís nothing so rewarding as watching viewers enter a scene and lose themselves in the luminous world Iíve painted. In addition to the power of direct sunshine, however, a reflection of sunlight often has an equally strong quality that becomes the focus of my paintings.
I do most of my painting outdoors in the brilliant Florida Keys, and one thing I have observed is that the vast sea surrounding these tiny islands acts like a giant mirror; it reflects sunlight back onto the cottages and the foliage. This creates what I call a light bounce that alters the colors and shadows we see in these objects.
When Iím painting on location, Iíve found that unique lighting effects change quickly, and this led me to my greatest painting lesson: Grab the essence of the scene first! I always start a painting with the part that I find most appealing, and thatís usually the light bounce. This way I know when Iím successful: The light bounces seem almost magically to make a painting look sunbathed.
In striving for a sunlit effect, painters tend to consider only their sunlit subjects. But shadows play an integral role in letting sunlight permeate the sceneóthey provide a "setting" that compliments the sun-kissed lights. Often, shadows will have a golden tint, or even a rosy red color that conveys a unique atmospheric glow.
Colors of an Island Evening (watercolor, 16x20).
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