Understanding the makeup of light and shadow is a fundamental art tool. Indeed, you cannot create forms without it.
Three-Quarters Classic Light
A 3/4’s light is falling on this egg form. This means that 3/4’s of the object is directly lit and the rest of it is in shadow.
Four Key Elements
Just looking at the form, there are four elements: highlight, mid-tone, core shadow, and reflective light.
In the light: the mid-tone and the highlight are the areas that are being “hit” by the light source.
In the shadow: the core shadow and reflective light.
Mid-tone: The tricky part here is to mold your mid-tones so that they accent the form of the object. Artists tend to flatten their mid-tones by making them too light, and by making the contrast between the core shadow and the mid-tone too strong. Continue reading
Feeling the Form by Michael Newberry
If the artist is going to convey reality, getting the forms right are absolutely essential. The realist artist is also at a disadvantage, in that if they present real objects, these objects have to have believable forms. As simple as forms look in art, they are one of the most difficult things to accomplish.
For example, no spectator is going to believe that the woman’s breasts were concaved, or that the sphere was flat.
Seek the Big Form: Study Sculpture by Michael Newberry
Figurative sculptors spend most of their time focused on the best way to present the figure. For painters, there is a lot to learn from how sculptors often bring out the big abstract form of the figure.
Seeing one perspective offered by the photo of the sculpture will serve our purpose. Our goal is to look for the abstract shape of the body.
When working with a model, it is always good for painters to shift your position so that you can find the best view that accents the big form.
3 Visual Axioms: You’ve Got It If You Get It
by Michael Newberry
Titian, La Schiavona, 1510
As a teenager, I traveled a bit and got great pleasure going to art museums. I would quickly move from one room to another, skimming all the paintings at a glance, until one caught my attention. Then, I would stop to satisfy my curiosity or pleasure in that painting.
Only after I had my fill would I look at the signature or the identification card. The painters were names like: Manet, Rembrandt, Rubens, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso, Titian, Van Gogh, Monet.
I had a particular way of cataloging my experiences with those artists–I sought out the common “things” that drew me to them. There were stunning and mysterious visual components that I wanted to understand.