Creative Jumpstarts: Painting the Shadows

The purpose of this exercise is multifaceted, to think in terms of interesting white shapes, to consider the darker middle values as big shapes which highlight and attach the whites, and to get used to putting varied and interesting colors in your darker values.

First I want you to make a loose drawing of overlapped shapes with a background that is right in the same plane as the major shapes.  This will give the composition a big shape feeling, you will have to move shapes around and exaggerate some of the angles to make the composition interesting.  Secondly, I want you to only paint the middle darks leaving the light areas of white paper, this will really get you noticing how well a powerful and interesting series of white shapes can move you through the painting.  Make sure you are using a variety of edges at the transition points between the dark shapes and the white paper, you should never leave all of these edges hard boring lines.  Try to get the feeling of light coming from one direction and throw in a few cast shadows on the ground.

Try to stay loose and paint in a quick a deliberate fashion with good color and brushwork.  Try a few compositions in an hour.

18 x 24 watercolor

18 x 24 watercolor

18 x 24 watercolor

18 x 24 watercolor


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  • PatSeptember 22, 2011 - 3:34 pm

    Steve, thank you for posting this! I’ll try again.ReplyCancel