Thursday, 2 July 2015

Brown Study 4

monochrome oil painting of a tabby cat, cat painting, pet portrait by Karen
Another little "brown study": this time an almost monochrome painting of a very elegant tabby cat. It was a bit of an experiment. I had been thinking about differentiating the light side from the shadow side.
I decided to try two different browns. The right hand side of the painting (the cat's left) is painted largely using Raw Umber. The left hand side I have used Transparent Oxide Brown and Red. I think it works, but it is maybe overly subtle. Often to achieve the effect I am after - I have discovered - it is necessary to exaggerate somewhat. 

The best advice I have come across on tackling light and shade  is from Stapleton Kearns, a contemporary American landscape painter. I have this extract from his blog typed up in BIG print and stuck to the wall next to my easel:

The shadow is not a darker version of the colour in the light! It is its own separate colour. 
Here are some things I do to separate my lights from my shadows.

  • I paint the lights in a high value and the shadows in a low value, so you can tell them apart.
  • sometimes I paint the lights with one pigment and the shadows with a different pigment, so you can tell them apart.
  • sometimes I paint the lights grave and the shadows highly colored, so you can tell them apart,
  • or I will paint the lights highly colored and the shadows grave, so you can tell them apart
  • sometimes I will paint the lights warm and the shadows cool, so you can tell them apart
  • sometimes I will paint the lights cool and the shadows warm, so you can tell them apart.
  • sometimes I will paint my lights opaque and my shadows transparent, so you can tell them apart.
  • sometimes I paint the lights with hard edges and the shadows with soft edges, so you can tell them apart
  • sometimes I use cool reflected light in the lights and hot reflected light in the shadow, so you can tell them apart.

This particular extract can be found here, but if you use the search box top left of his blog and put in the words light and shade you get loads of really useful posts.
I am not sure I have been entirely successful in applying his advice on this painting, but it took a while to paint this pretty boy and I like him, so I won't re-do him. Sometimes my animals demand to be "wipers". Sometimes, like this one, they insist on existing.