6 Basic Concepts on Light


Artists refer to six basic concepts on the behavior of light. They are highlight, direct light, reflected light, shadow, core shadow and cast shadow.

Highlight refers to the bright reflection how light directly hits the form. The highlight may be at the crest of the surface in direct light if the surface is irregular.

The shadow area is all area not in direct light. Part of the shadow area is illuminated by reflected light. Another part of the shadow area is the core shadow.

Core shadow is the darkest dark on the form. The core shadow appears as a line or the plane parallel to the light source, benefiting from neither direct light nor reflected light.

Cast shadow is the shadowed area on adjacent surfaces where the direct light is blocked by the form. It is darker than the core shadow. Its edges are clearly delineated where it is closest to the form and softer as it stretches away from the form. The shadow is darkest where it is closest to the form.



“Orange” (May God Bless You) Watercolor Study on Stonehendge Paper


Watercolor study where I use transparent washes and glazes to form oranges. With a mixture of alizarin crimson and cadmium yellow. I block in the overall shapes of the oranges on damp paper. I allow this to dry before moving to the next stage. No

The next stage, I work wet-on-wet adding cadmium yellow. I build form and color, leaving small areas of the pale underwash and the white of the paper to create highlights.

I strengthened the form of the oranges with layers of transparent washes.

Finally, the cast shadow of the oranges is painted with washes and glazes of paynes gray and yellow ochre. A clean damp brush is used to soften the shadows. This also gives an impression that the oranges are sitting on a dish.

I also painted a thin glaze using cadmium orange over the entire piece.

Drawing Hills in Landscapes



With the soft contours of rolling hills, it is more difficult to distinguish the main masses of light and shade which emphasize solidity. It helps to look at the landscape with half closed eyes.

In contrast to the sharp angularity of mountains, most hills have soft, slightly blurred edges, because they are covered with trees and vegetations. If the hills are covered with trees, it is enough merely to suggest the texture of the foliage by using a subtle range of textures.

The overlapping planes of the hills recede works well in the design of a landscape.

The principle when drawing distant landscapes is your best means of creating the illusion of three- dimensional space on a flat piece of paper.

Figure Drawing


Rodin drawing rendered at the Met.


Life drawing, the representation of the human figure, requires both technique and an understanding of human anatomy.

  1. apply expressive drawing techniques in capturing the human figure
  2.  draw the characteristic shapes and proportions of the human skeleton
  3. capture the basics of posture and motion through gesture drawing
  4. capture shapes and proportions of human anatomy and muscle mass
  5.  use contour and blind contour drawing to capture the shape of human subjects
  6. draw the proportions of the human face in frontal, profile, and three-quarter views
  7.   apply the concepts of volume, perspective, and shading
  8. apply tips for composition, including texture, balance, rhythm, variety, unity, and emphasis
  9. apply expressive drawing techniques in capturing the human figure 


Light and Shadow


All objects of nature are made visible to the sight by the light of the sun shinning upon them. We see their color and texture more apparent in the light area.

The shadow planes will be those planes lying in or beyond the direction of light so that  the original source cannot reach them.

Break up your design into two groups. The object is to make all the lighted areas hold together as one group, as opposed to the shadow areas as another group. If the values of the two groups are not thus separated and held apart, the subject loses solidity and form and becomes visually confusing even if it is drawn very well. This is where most paintings fall apart. A safe approach is to make all the areas in the light a little lighter than you think you see them, and all areas in the shadow a little darker. If you break the two groups apart in your pencil sketch than you can refine in the painting stage. Sometimes it helps me to use black paper and draw with a white pencil the lights to see the light better. Also take your painting into a low lighted room and look at the values. Color sometimes confuses your values. The image should be able to work in black and white first or color is pointless.



Highlights tell all. They tell you what kind of surface and texture the object has. The more reflective a surface is the sharper the highlight.  Highlights are shapes. They should decrease in value as they move away from the light source. They also should never be brighter then the light source. The color of the light should be in the highlight. When there is warm light , they will have cool shadows.  When there is cool light, they will warm shadows.

Color is duller than light group.  It will show less detail and texture.  You might let shadow be almost flat to simplify the design and put emphasis on the light group.

Reflected light belongs to the shadow group. They should not be lighter or brighter than the light group or they will flatten your form.  Also reflected light can be a shadow that changes values with out competing  with the light group. It usually looks like fog or mist and creates atomsphere.

Shadows are shapes. Good value patterns make good design. Good design mades good impact to the eye. By running shadows together by connecting them, will simplify your design. This will help your eye move through the composition.

The quicker a plane changes direction the crisper the shadow. The slower the plane changes direction the softer the shadow.

Three types of value compositions that have strong impact.

  1. light object on dark background
  2. dark object on light background
  3. dark or light objects on grey background



Image result for drawing objects in white box

Seeing tone takes practice. Set up  a few objects in a box. Spray paint the entire box and content white. Place a lamp light higher then the box. Look at how the light falls on all the objects in the box  and creates shadows.  Draw the shapes of the objects using 2B pencil. Keep in mind where is the cast shadow. This  will help you to create the 3D shape. Then add in the shadows of the shapes.

By doing this exercise will help you to learn how tone creates three dimensional shapes.

Image result for drawing objects in white box

Light and Shadow


Drawing expressive communication using shape, such as squares, circles and triangles with volume through form into realistic three-dimensional cube, sphere and cone objects. Through drawing exercises and practicing this method 2D and 3 D will help you master this technique.
Create a three-value tone key for light, middle and dark values to help identify shape, light, and shadow. Block in the composition, and use glazes of color to play with light and shadow. This will teach you to realistically capture reflections, bouncing light, various shadow and unique color combinations to help you work come alive.

Poland rain


street car scene

Trying a new surface brings an entire new experience to your watercolor painting. Gesso a heavier paper or prime a board that is highly non-absorbent will alter the way you work and achieving a quite different result.
Gesso is a sizing that will seal the painting surface, making it non-absorbent. Gesso is commonly used as a ground for oil, egg tempera and acrylic painting. Using gesso for watercolors is very unusual. Gesso boards are available if you do not want to gesso the surface yourself. I want you to keep in mind that gesso a heavier drawing paper to see why you can accomplish.
When you use watercolor paint on watercolor paper the washes absorb and spread . This technique will not happen when you gesso the paper. It will take more time to dry when using gesso because the water needs to evaporate. This will give you more time to push the paint around the surface. When dried you receive a crisp hard edge and the colors will dry darker.
When painting on a gesso surface you will have to mix your colors ahead of time because washes will not be able to be overlaid. There is an advantage to this technique since now nstead of going from light to dark you can work dark to light.
Errors can be corrected where before watercolor is not a forgiving medium.
Gesso will allow you to create texture to your painting.
If you choose to draw your image before painting use a hard pencil, such as a 6H.


value study farm house

Before you start a painting work a value study. A value study helps you resolve problems before you start the main painting. This study illustrates the shapes that will make up the paintings composition and will also give you a blue print to the value of every shape from 1 (the white paper) to 5 (the darkest dark). When drawing a value study use a soft pencil such as a 4B or 6B to produce the values. The medium of pencil is the nearest to a transparent watercolor as pencil is a transparent medium too. You could also work a value study with gouache paint utilizing white and black and mixing the greys in between. Generate the value study is identical to the order in which you will carry out the painting.

Pencil you can lift the marks of the pencil by erasing as like non-staining watercolor pigments after the painting is dry you could also lift up the color. Once I’m satisfied with the value study, I have a familiar with the subject and can concentrate on my color scheme after I have my composition drawn on my watercolor paper. Working a few thumbnail sketches with different lighting directions is very helpful on working a final composition.
A very important question is “How do you transfer the sketch to the watercolor paper?” When you have a competed drawing that you want to paint I use a Xerox copier to enlarge to the size I want and transfer the drawing to my paper using tracing paper. On site I might just start directly with paint this depends on the subject of the piece and I prefer working loosely instead of tight. If the composition is complicated, I will draw lightly with pencil directly on the paper to indicate major shapes of the composition.

value study trees

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