- Lesson details
In this video lesson world-renowned painter Steve Huston will teach you the essentials of working with light and shadow using oil paint. You will be working on a single basic light source and learn techniques to mix your paints in order to get your “dirty” colors. You will learn how to paint a basic egg form and create the illusion of three-dimensional depth.
- Gamblin Artist Grade Oil Colors
- Simply Simmons Paintbrush
- Canvas Panel
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video lesson, world renowned painter Steve Huston will teach you
the essentials of working with light and shadow using oil paint.
You will be working on a single, basic light source and learn
techniques to mix your paints in order to get your dirty colors. You will learn
how to paint a basic egg form and create the illusion of three dimensional
depth. This is a great lesson for any beginner who wants to learn
about light and shadow regardless of preferred medium.
the basics of working with paint and brush. We're working with oil paint
and you can see I've got white and black paint. You can also
see if you look carefully that they're dirty. Got a little bit of gray in here.
I've done another painting earlier and
I've a little bit of white in here. You can also see a little hint of the color
off the side I've got a full color pallet off to the side from other
paintings I've done, other lessons actually I've done for New Masters.
If your paint is a little dirty
then your painting is gonna get a little dirty. Now
dirty just means that the paint's gonna gray out. Over here
let me pull some in. This is a
transparent orange color and it's very dirty. And so that means
if I try and do a nice, bright orange - and this is kinda in the orange range -
add a little bit of white to it, add a little bit more red or yellow
I'm gonna end up with a relatively dirty orange.
And my nice, rich colors - the orange fruit that I'm painting
is gonna look grayer and dirtier than it should. So when you're working on a
new painting and the painting has any kind of rich color
to it, you wanna put out brand new paint. But in this case
we're working in black and white and that means we're working in the gray
tones. White is just a very light gray and black
is just a very dark gray. And so part of my white
paint gets a little gray and or part of black paint gets a little
gray, that kinda dirty I can live with. There's no sense wasting that paint I can use
it. Up here you'll see there's a little bit of streak of red
in the white here. Now if I get any
quantity of red in the paint it's gonna start to go pink and that I want
to avoid. So let's get rid of that
dirty white and we'll put it off for another
painting and this paint I like to keep because
otherwise it gets wasteful. Paint is expensive.
Notice I'm just cleaning off my
paint scraper here with a paper towel and just wiping it off for a
rag. My pallet I should say.
So if I needed to paint any kind of yellow orange, orange,
red orange, red violet, violet paint I could
use that slightly pink
out white for that painting. So there's no sense in throwing
that away. If it sits too long it'll start to skin over and you'll look at this
and it'll start to look a little less shiny and when you touch it
it'll have a skin and then slowly the whole thing'll dry. So
once the paint skins over the paint actually starts to loose its cohesion.
It's not gonna be as archival, it won't last as long. So if
you're just doing an exercise like we're doing today it wouldn't matter really. But if you're doing
a painting to last, for your Aunt Millie or something for
Christmas then you want to put out brand new paint if your paint skinned over.
And you'll find that some paints will skin over quicker than other paints.
And you'll just have to test them. You just take your brush
and touch - now is that skinned over? Nope, it's not skinned over so I'm good.
Alright so we're gonna work in gray just for simplicity
sake so we can just work with the mechanics of how paint goes
down and how we can manipulate the paint. I'm working on a white canvas
and the typical choices you have is working on a white canvas or a toned
canvas. And the toned canvas can we toned to any color if you're
working in full color. We're toning it to a gray. In fact
it was another lesson that I did that I just scrubbed down at the end
and I'll do that to this actually after we work on it
a little bit to show you how to tone the canvas. Now when I
start out I'm just gonna take a little bit of my darker paint
a dirty brown if I'm working in color maybe
or just a dark gray or black.
if I'm working in black and white. And then I'll draw
with a very simple
line, I've just thinned out the paint, my solvent's
down below. Right here. Solvent's down below.
And I'm just dipping the tip of my brush into that
and then dabbing into a little bit of paint.
And you can see if I put in a lot of
solvent it'll start to actually drip. And the wetter this is
the easier it's gonna go onto the canvas. It's
gonna be easier to smear that stuff around.
But also the looser that paint is - and so
when I put the thicker paint over that it's gonna potentially
drip or move on me then. So
I wanna make sure it's slightly dried out. And notice that
I've kinda smudged away my drawing now to dry it. Now
it's almost perfectly - not almost perfectly dry - but it's nice and
bonded - it's bonded into the canvas and it's just
stained on there. It won't rub off as easily when I put new stuff on there.
This is a little too drippy then. So
we're gonna move that off.
And you'll find when you do your razor blades
after you've used them a while they'll start to get dull and you can see how it's not
cleanly scraping the
glass pallet that I have here
because it's an older razorblade. And when that gets a little frustrating then switch
razorblades. And I buy my razorblades in packs
of 100 at the hardware store. Go to any hardware store and you can do that.
So let's try again. Let's get a little bit of paint and make it just
slightly thinned. Just the barest tip
of my brush in there and I'm gonna try it again and draw
that. Now it doesn't have to be a great drawing. In fact
I would prefer it were not a great
drawing. If you do a really beautiful drawing you're gonna
want to fill in around that drawing and it's gonna be like a paint by
numbers and your painting's not gonna look correct. You're gonna end up having kinda
lines, vague lines, between each color and value.
So make it somewhat crude and then correct the drawing with the paint. I'll show you
how to do that. Now we've got an egg here. And so the egg
is white. And the egg has
a light source.
And we'll say the light source is coming this way.
Always know where your light source is so you can be
consistent with your
values because the value will get lighter as they
turn towards that light source. When you're picking
out the value for your light side, that's called
the half tones. Everything that's not a highlight is a half tone
on the light side. I want to make it dark enough - in this case, gray
enough - that I can get a little
highlight on there of the appropriate intensity.
So really white eggs don't have really strong
highlights because they're so blasted out with light value
anyway. And notice I'm painting
up against the line. Now I'm not sure you can see it
but where the brush with the very light gray
hit the paint of the drawn line, the dark
paint of the drawn line, my brush got dirty.
And then when I put that down in there it's gonna get dirty yet. Let's pretend it got really dirty.
And then all the sudden I come back into the body
of my light gray and I've made it darker gray and dirtied up
my painting. So what I wanna do is make sure I wipe
away that mistake and I wanna make sure that I have
a nice, clean brush.
Pulling off the very last
paper towel there. I shoulda got more paper towels.
So I clean off my brush, put it in the turpentine,
wipe it off and squeeze it out. Make sure
there's no turpentine in the center. Come back again and lay it in.
Like so. And I want that
dark enough so I can put a little highlight on there
if there's one needed. If it's just blasted out because it's such a strong
light source you can just start with a light
white or something close to it. But in this case let's say that the
it's a softer light and there's a little bit of a highlight on that egg.
Now on the shadow side I can use a brand new brush
or I can use the same brush and since it's gray
paint it's not pretty colors I don't have to
worry about the colors getting dirty. The green on this brush
mixing with red with the next color and ending up with something dirty.
And I want the shadow
dark enough that when I squint -
when I squint at it those values separate
appropriately. The shadow looks dark and the light looks light and the
two don't compete or mix up. Appropriately means
it looks strong enough for whatever your painting's
about. What you want in your painting. Or strong enough that it matches
your source material. The little egg you have on the tabletop or the
desk lamp on it or the egg on the
table outside in the sun or the photograph of the egg or the painting
of someone else's rendition of an egg. Whatever your source material is
we want it dark enough that it matches that.
Or if you're just making it up as we're doing here
you want it to be dark enough that when you squint they still separate.
Now I just
laid it in in kind of a scrubbed in way.
Let's do it again.
Like so. So I have a hard edge,
maybe a ragged hard edge, but a hard edge.
And that's all I need. This is what I have to have
to tell the audience basically what's going on. In this case the drawing,
that relative roundness - and it's not a lovely drawing is it - but
the basic drawing gives the idea of egg and then the placement
of a shape dark value against a shape of light value gives us
the idea of a shadowed egg -
an egg under a relatively strong light source. Let's put this egg
in an environment. And so we're gonna make that egg
sit on a table that's also a white
table. And so the egg is gonna block the table from
receiving light. And it's gonna have a cast shadow
on it. Now we're
gonna give -
and notice I didn't even clean my brush there. Because I know
I need a lot of paint now to cover this tabletop. All I did is I took
my middle gray that was on my brush, that was dirtying my brush and I went in
the dirty section of the whites and got
more white, more dirty white to mix with that middle gray on
my brush. And now I've got my
value that I need for the table top. And
notice when I get into a crevice, I bring the tip of the brush
in first, just like a pencil tip. And
I put it into that crevice and then draw it back out. So one of the things you're gonna find
is that the angle of the brush
when you make the stroke will make a big difference in terms of the control you have.
And typically, since I'm painting around eye
level - if it was a big painting I'd be painting down
around my ribcage, up around my forehead to paint,
but generally at eye level, it's gonna be probably easier for me
to have the brush painting up to make the strokes.
I'll have more control than having to do this or
this at an angle. That's awkward and it can be done, and sometimes you have to get in
at an angle to do something, but generally you want to
face it this way. And then turn to the side
to make that stroke. And notice I'm
just putting the strokes - I'm just squiggling or zigzagging those strokes
to just for
coverage. I don't really care too much about the strokes. I might for
a finished painting. It may be very important that those strokes start out as
an angle and then kinda lay down maybe. So there's a
little more energy to them and then they settle down
as they come around the egg. Something like that.
And then the environment of the egg.
days because I've been working on various lessons
and adding to it. But it's older paint and so
it's a little stiffer. The paint starts to
dry as it sits out on the pallet so I'm adding just a touch of solvent
so that it covers more easily.
And notice - I'm gonna do the same thing, I'm stroking around
now, the brush is pointing up because that's more comfortable for me - and I'm stroking around
I'm always making my stroke along the border
of my drawing. Along the border of my shapes of value.
Here I'm gonna go across the back of the tabletop, along
the border. And whoops I
screwed up. Don't worry about it. I'm not
concerned in keeping that drawing
showing. I'm concerned in covering that drawing.
And if I overshoot and muck up, oops did it again.
I'll fix that later. And I'll
show you how. So don't be precious
about your drawing. You wanna be a good enough draftsman that you don't have to
worry about the drawing. If you do a good job
of bumping up against that
silhouette - in this case against the light egg - great that's fine. If you
don't, oops, didn't do a good job there. Doesn't matter
and in some ways it's actually better. And I'll show you why in a little bit
And I'm just gonna add a little bit more
turpentine so we can run that up.
Okay so now it looks like I've got an egg with some
alien creature taking bites out of it when I'm not looking. So
I'm gonna take my light value paint again
and took a little bit of white, added a little bit rather than
come in here I just grabbed the dark gray that was there and I loaded it up
and again, since it's slightly drying paint it feels a little
sticky to me. I'm gonna
thin it out just ever so slightly. You can see I had a little too much
turpentine solvent, it's gamsol is what I'm using from Gamblin.
It's odorless. A little too much on my brush and when I put on it
it bled. So I touched it there to get some off and put
it here. And that's one of the things that you're gonna learn. By doing these little demos -
these unimportant demos in a way - it's not a
lovely portrait, it's not a series of
different kinds of objects, fruits or pottery or
something like that, it's just an egg shape. And we're just making it up actually.
And so if I screw it up what's the big deal. But one of the things that's gonna happen
is I do these little studies and I'm gonna start to learn about the nature of
oil paint. What happens when I mix them together, what happens
when it's on my brush and gets dragged across the canvas,
what happens if the canvas is a little rougher. This canvas I bought
is a rougher batch than the last batch and I was
suggest you buy the fine canvas. It's what's most out there anyway because most people like it.
The fine canvas has a very thin tooth, more like a blue
jean material, a denim material, a little closer to that.
And it won't fight you as much. if you have a really textured canvas you're gonna have to fight that
texture. You have to scrub and work because you have to get it down into the deep crevices.
That paint into the deep crevices. So it's just - it's more work -
there's no sense messing with that in the beginning. But what I wanna do
is I wanna get comfortable enough - let's get rid of our little highlight there we don't need
it - that I know what I like in terms of how
thick, how gummy the paint is or how fluid the paint is,
how thickly, how much paint do I put on the brush,
what's the quickest way to get to that lighter or darker value that I want?
How do I correct mistakes? Now look at how I
corrected that mistake.
I moved along the border of the two values and I pushed it
up and I just zigzagged, scooting and pushing,
kinda like a shovel of snow. Pushing the snow in front of you.
Pushing that edge, that pile of
paint up against the light side.
I'm sorry against the dark
silhouette of the background.
And I can go back and forth. So that little end is in
a perfect end. I can adjust it.
Not a perfect end yet. There we go. Got it.
let's get this. That's a good value. I can test it in here, make sure
it's the same value. Now I'm gonna come over here and I'm gonna
drag it across. It's gonna dirty up my brush, I'm gonna wipe it off there or I'll wipe it
off here, come back again.
Do it again. Do it again. So I can
shapes until they're what I want them to be.
Maybe there's a front
to the table too. Always
moving the stroke along the border between the two values
or two colors between the two silhouettes. That's the easiest way to get a nice, clean
line. Correcting the
last shape and value
with the next shape and value. So I corrected that ragged edge of the table top corner
with the front plane, with the darker value.
Okay now - so to control
our paint, to have control of our medium, we need to be able to put
that medium nicely placed and well
designed or well drawn within a specific shape.
We need to be able to make a curved line,
paint in a curved silhouette, paint a straight line
put in a straight, squarish, rectangular silhouette.
Always pushing up against
the border, never letting a white canvas
poke out between the two
values. Always doing complete coverage.
It's a good idea for your drawing to look past
the interruption and to see where
the continuation is. Sometimes we'll look at this side and say well that's .just perfect
Oh look at that side that's just perfect. But they don't track together.
Going through the interruption we can see that the
tabletop did not track well
because your teacher screwed it up. And when you
screw things up it's only a screw up if you don't
come back and fix it.
You can see how dirty the brush got by pushing that lighter value
up against that darker value. I got dirt on the darker,
muddy value into that brush and it affected. It came into the silhouette.
We're gonna leave that there just as a lesson - a morality tale.
there we go. So you wanna practice being able
to do careful shapes.
And then - with nice, hard edges. And then you want
doing soft edges. Now soft edges are using
the same strategy we did for hard edges, but I keep zigzagging
and instead of stopping at the border
at the created edge, the drawn edge,
I'm gonna keep going into the other silhouette. And so I'm gonna take
the darker silhouette and go into the lighter silhouette.
And so let's
do this bottom one again. I'm gonna do the
And unfortunately I didn't do a very good job with that
table edge did I?
So I gotta fix that
ragged front edge, that corner of the table top with my
negatives shape. I'm gonna have to now take this light
top of the table and come back over it and correct.
So let's do that.
Let's go into my light pot of paint and let's do that.
Okay let's do that.
Can you see how hard it is to
control that brush? See how hard it was to control that brush when I'm coming
down? It's hanging the weight of my arm,
gravity's pulling it down. It's gonna be hard to hold that exactly
still. Make the perfect line. It's much easier to do it this way.
So when I'm laying in my paint
and getting ready to correct my drawing
it's gonna probably be easier for you if you correct with the
bottom shape, let the bottom shape correct the top shape.
I can correct the bottom shape with the top
shape but instead of doing this I'm gonna come this way
and go across. Now I got my
paint dirty, load it up again,
ease up against that border.
Do it again, wipe off that dirt,
do it again. So you can see it can be done. And then the little
extra wobble there that I wasn't able to correct because I
didn't want to move the table top down that low, then I'll come back and look how
much easier it is from the bottom.
Alright. And now I wanna show you
something. I'm gonna pause you for just a second and come back and show you something. This
is a painting shield or a
painting guide. Trim painters use it in house painting.
It's got a metal edge and it's got plastic,
typically has a handle, top shield, has a nice
curve there, there's a nice straight edge. This, over time, can get bent. You can
see mine's a little bent there. But what this does is this creates perfect
hard edges. Now as a painter
the only way I can make a hard edge is either to mask it off -
so if I'm working in acrylic or gouache I'll take tape
and I'll mask it off and then I can paint.
I'll show you here.
I can paint right up over that.
And when I peel it off - I can't peel it too much or my board'll fall
off. But when I peel it off I get a nice, crisp edge.
You can't do that in oil paint really. I can get away with it here because there's no oil paint under
but the oil paint, even when it's dry, your tape's not gonna
fit to that very well. And so masking things off
like that is not very practical in oil paint but it is
in other painting situations. You can actually buy artist tape -
usually its white -
that has a nice stickum. It'll stick nicely and it's nice
and thick and so it won't wobble with the
wet acrylic paint or gouache paint that you do over it. But also it's a
slightly less tacky paint so you're not gonna rip if you're painting on
watercolor paper or illustration board it's not gonna rip
your paper surface so easily. On gesso canvas
you don't have to worry about it. But that artist tape is nice for other mediums. But for
oil paint what I use is this painting shield. And so
if I need that to be perfectly straight - again it's even
easier to come up with it.
I put the shield above. Let's make it much
darker so you can see it.
And you can see I got a perfectly crisp
line there. So I can do that everywhere. We're doing
a painterly painting so I don't really need that. But I use this a lot
if I'm doing architectural environments around my
figures. I'll come and lay this in and then I can
do it this way too and it's not as hard because I don't have to
worry about the wobbly part of the brush. So I can lay it this way and
say that's too high. I can come back and correct it, whoops I tipped it a little bit
when I did it the other way. Now I can see I need that to be
that way. And I lay it there and press it down tight
press it in so we make sure there's no lifting up there.
that the paint gets on the
metal and you need to wipe that metal off
like so. And you can see this thing is probably older than
a lot of you and it's seen a lot of use.
Lucky paint guide. So anyway that's a way of creating
real crisp, accurate
edges. Straight edges. And you can
do curved edges too. You can get a paint guide that
has a curvature to it. Use a French curve
or something like that. But we want ours to be rather
painterly. And I don't even mind if it's a little
wobbly. It maybe adds a little life to it or
it's just not important because this is a little study, we're just working with the nature of the paint
surface. Notice also this is nice for checking our interruption.
If you notice I didn't quite track it well. See how that drops off?
That tabletop's not a very good tabletop is it? It drops off. We don't care about
that here. So
I'm not gonna worry about it but I could really track and check that thing,
correct it nicely. Alright so if I want the
edge to be hard then I'm just gonna bump up against
the silhouette coming from below
is the smarter strategy probably. You do
do an experiment with all of them and find out what works for you but
that tends to work for most people. And we just push it
up. And you'll - if you can see this close enough you'd see that it
where the dark paint meets the lighter paint you've got a little
ridge. And that's because this is like a shovel, it's pushing
the paint ahead of it and it builds up, it scoops that
paint up and pushes it to the edge and you actually get a little bead there, a slight bead.
But I can see the highlights on them. I'm not sure you can with the camera
but you might well be able to. That's a hard edge. So
we need to be able to get any shape and any value up
against the other shapes and their other values so like jigsaw puzzle pieces.
And we know now that we have a
easier time because we don't have to be exactly right with any one silhouette. We can
correct with the surrounding silhouette. If I made the light
shape of the egg wrong I could correct with the
the dark background shape. And if I made
that wrong I could correct with the egg. If the light egg is wrong I can correct with the
shadow of the egg and make it correct. And so there's
no hurry. I can just keep working and working and working. If you happen to find that
you've put on so much paint that it gets globby, take your
pallet knife and you can scrape it down.
And take it back and you might wanna come back
and clean up your edges or something. We'll just leave it. But you can scrape it
down so you've got a more manageable amount of paint on there. And you can see when you
scrape it's - the canvas is starting to come through a little bit.
It's scraping off the top ridges of the canvas. And that can be
a nice effect actually. If you don't like that effect, come back,
correct it, slowly
ease up against the edge, get your nice clean, or nice
loose painterly edge and begin again.
Now notice also when I paint I'm trying to
in three values, trying to simplify things down. All of
the shadows group to one value, all of the lights group to one value
and then I have a darker environment, what's in front and behind gets
darker and frames that middle range where the egg sits.
discussion on that, see my laws of light, my tonal
composition lectures and I go into great detail about those value
systems and how to make them work for you. For now we'll leave that aside
so we don't have too many things to think about. Now this
egg is round. And the best way to show roundness is through gradation.
We're gonna have one value start to blend
off and blend into another value. And so what I can do is I can just take
all the paint off my brush, I put it in the turpentine - I keep saying turpentine but
it's an odorless solvent - and then I
squeeze and clean it off. Now I have a pretty clean brush,
not perfectly clean but that's okay, we've got a lot of paint on here, that's not gonna spoil
this. And then I'm gonna lay my brush, the fingers of
the hairs of the brush, over the border of both. I'm gonna put half
the brush over the dark shadow, half the brush over the
look at how I can clean up that edge, make it a smooth
transition. Now if that isn't quite
correct I can load up my brush with this dark -
with this lighter value by just stroking into the light value
and now that brush is gonna be a little dirty with that lighter value
and I can force back that darker value a little bit.
And by stroking, hatching over I'm putting tight hatches
one against the next, I can create a gradation and soften that
edge. Now I'm gonna clean off my brush again. Come in
here. Do it again.
And notice the shadow went up this way so I did that little section.
And the shadow went this way I did that little section. And there's a little bit of
curve in that section so I can stroke with a little bit of curve.
And then I can come back and blend those sections together.
That's easier than trying to do this with hatches over that perfect
line of curve - of curvature. Now I'm gonna
get this one. And I can just scrub back and forth if I wanna be a little more
energetic or do it more quickly.
Wipe off that paint because I'm dragging into the dirty part
so now I'm gonna come back to the light part.
And I'm gonna
so that it rings true for me. And then
pick that out. And we have our hard - or
sorry we have our soft edges. Our soft edge.
Now sometimes that edge doesn't just get
softer, the darker value blends up into the
lighter value. So now I'm gonna come into the darker value
I'm gonna let my brush get dirty with that darker value. And I'm gonna let that blend
the way up.
And I'm trying to do a light touch. I'm barely tickling the surface.
And then I can push a little harder and push
a little harder as I need to. And notice the harder I push
the more of what's on the brush is forced onto the surface.
Onto the canvas surface or into the paint that's existing.
I scrub back and forth, the softer and more perfect
that gradation will be. And now I'm gonna go to this
And I'm kinda going up and then I start to run out of dark
paint. I go back down to the dark paint, go back up again, go back down,
blend the body, the whole silhouette
back so it's all smooth as it might need to be for our
perfect little egg if we're doing a real careful rendering. And you can see how quickly
I can get a pretty rendered
gradation there. And now it's a little bit ragged
and so I'm just gonna stroke along that whole border
and soften that up. Come back
in, clean this up
And notice the strokes - you can do the strokes any way you want.
When I paint those strokes down that way,
as opposed to across, they're gonna have a different sheen.
The strokes that go down, there's gonna be each little hair
creates a little ridge, a valley, and a hill.
And those ridges and valleys will catch highlights.
I'll catch more highlights going this way. Those ridges
will catch more because they're little stair step shelves that face up toward
the light source and they'll get shinier. And so if I want,
if my paint starts to get a little shiny on me I can come back
into that silhouette and I can turn those strokes more vertically.
And you can see how I haven't changed
the value here but it looks to be a different value
because the shine - the sheen of those strokes
is left. So we'll do half of it vertically and half of it horizontally.
And if you see this on camera, I think you can, this
side looks lighter in value than this side because these strokes are going
vertically this way.
And these strokes are going horizontally this way. And the horizontal
strokes again catch more ridges of light, get shinier,
they look lighter in value and kinda sometimes they shine so much you can't
see the value very well. And so if that's the case,
turn them vertically and it'll look a little bit darker and a little truer
to the value you've actually mixed rather than the
value the strong, direct light is affecting.
I'll come back and
crack my little cast shadow here.
Now the only other thing we need to keep in mind, if we just do a
good job of blending, or a great job of blending,
oftentimes the form doesn't look real powerful. It looks
kind of eh, I get the idea of it but it doesn't really impact me.
And that's because you've just blended the shadow
back into the light and you start to lose the border
and the contrast of shadow and light.
And so we won't get into all of the nuances and
theories of reflected light but
we can see some detail in the shadows too in almost an situation
and that's because there's secondary light getting in there
the spot light lights, the light side of the egg, and the light side of the table, it doesn't
light the shadow side of these things. But other light
it bounces in there and gives a little bit of detail. And so the quick
answer is just put a little core,
a soft edge core,
a darkness in there
and you can use the same technique. I wiped
most of it off the
And it can be a zigzag
or a hatch.
And I'll wipe it off again. And I'm gonna put in a
middle value here because this is a hard - too hard of an edge.
And I'm just gonna stroke it or
And there you go.
And we had it dark enough that we could put
our highlight on or our lighter half tone if we needed it. And that gives you the basic
idea. It's not a perfectly rendered egg, it's not
a perfect technique of an egg but it's pretty good
rendering for the little bit of time we spent
and it's a good enough indication of the form
that if this egg were in the background of a paint, it would look very
realistic if we painted our main feature, maybe our
portrait of our young woman, very realistic. Or
if you wanna stay more stylized, more painterly like I to do
that reads just fine. We could add more reflected light, we could add more
half tone, we can do other things. But that's gonna read well. Now the last
thing I would say is, those soft edges
can be a great way, as we saw, turning or rounding
the form. But we can also use
soft edges to soften the silhouette. Now the fact
is if we shot this with a camera, some of these edges might be
focus. And the fact is when you look at
one area, that area goes in focus with your eyes and your mind and you
focus on that, literally, and see it
with sharp relief. The other things will tend to be
soft focus. Your eye will disengage with the other
details and you won't see that and it will kind of actually blur
or in your mind take on less important. So in that case
soften in importance. So if in your painting you have areas
that are farther away that you wanna go out of your depth of field that the
camera or your eye would see, and it could be what would actually go out of the
depth of field, or it could be your choice
for your composition. Or if you want areas to be less interesting
soften those edges. So for example...
And we'll make that a hard edge.
Or relatively so. Hard enough.
But the back of the table is several inches
away from us.
Let's correct that. And so we're gonna make that
a soft edge. It's gonna go out of focus.
How soft edged is up
to you. You're the
boss here. You're creating a world
that has a certain logic. In my world
things that go behind the
important object, what I considered most important, gets soft edged.
And, let's say, what gets in front, well in front,
of that important object
gets soft edges. So now it looks like the
tabletop is a carpeted staircase. It's slightly softer, slightly
rounder or slightly softer, slightly less distinct.
I can say that in my world things that are in
the light or light meets dark you get
nice hard edges. But where shadow
meets shadow you get not only soft
edges, you get lost
edges. You actually lose the border between
those details. Now isn't that a
shame that we lost the border of the egg.
Where the egg meets the background. The border
has become more and more diffused and finally completely lost.
And that's a shame to lose that. But by losing
that, we make this more important. And we prioritize.
We force the audience then to prioritize.
They will see this first and they'll spend more time on that. They'll see
this soft edge, or these soft edges, second.
And they'll see the lost edges last. And
so each of these - and you can notice just by the painterly techniques, sometimes
the edges go a little softer on their own. Sometimes we carefully
sculpt and direct and create a soft edge with great
purpose. And other times it just happens because of the
looseness, the quickness, the freedom of the technique.
And that can be a wonderful thing too. So we're gonna lose the tip of the
in the background. I never liked the way I drew that anyway.
And then I'm just working to let
that gradation blend smoothly
into the surrounding environment. But now the egg is lost
in the background. And notice that if you walked up to this painting
it would take you several minutes to discover the fact that this
edge is missing and this edge, border is missing. You
would assume its all there. If you do a real good job rendering,
being true to the situation in the
main part of your painting, you can be very loose, very
painterly, you can be very tricky, and you can be very
wrong, you can screw things up in those other areas and people won't notice, they won't
mind and they'll consider it your style oftentimes when they do discover it.
So, for example, in Rembrandts and Sargents and those Brown School where everything kinda goes
to real dark values in the shadows and browns, in the shadow
there's little or no detail. They do almost no rendering in a lot of those paintings and
oftentimes they just do - if they have any detail it's just line or sometimes they just don't have
any detail at all and they just lose things like this. So go back
and look at some of your favorite painters. Titian, Giorgione, Rembrandt,
Rubens, Van Dyck,
all that group. And you'll notice just how much
they leave out. How much they simplify. And sometimes how little
they really focus on in terms of rendering.
Where the tabletop
meets the egg. The tip of the egg. And of course
the tabletop we made is soft edges but the egg is a hard edge.
And then as it goes back it's gonna get softer
and softer. And in fact, this soft edge
is gonna flare out. And so the light on the egg
is gonna actually flare into the background.
And now look at how I'm starting to make
the egg a more personal statement.
It's a little less realistic the way I've done
this. Although we can do that flare and make it very
realistic. But it gets more interesting. At least to
me. If it doesn't get more interesting to you then this would be
something you probably wouldn't want to do. You'd wanna come up with a different choice. But the
you have a lot of choices in what to do
and those choices teach, guide, and manipulate
your audience to react or find things
in different ways and for different reasons. And you can have -
you can build up a whole mythology of why you do this.
You know, egg is a symbol of rebirth because of my Christian
faith, let's say. Which is was for a lot of Renaissance painters.
When they painted an egg, or they paint two eggs, and the two eggs was
Adam and Eve. And they put those in and they were symbolic.
And the audience would pick up on that.
Or Rembrandt would do these not
classically beautiful people and sometimes downright homely people
but he would put this gloriously beautiful
light on them and that was the enlightenment of his
god lighting the corrupt world
and illuminating it, enlightening it. And so it can have
all - you can pack it with all sorts of meaning. So once you start looking
at the paint and the
things that you do here, the materials, as choices
then you can pack the choices with meaning. If nothing else though
those choices can have just great beauty, greater interest. Now
I've painted an egg that in some ways isn't very realistic.
In fact, notice that there's almost nothing going on in the
shadow. I have no detail of how the
egg separates from - the
shadow of the egg separates from the shadow
of the tabletop here. And you probably didn't miss that
until I pointed it out. If you noticed it before
there's a good chance you probably forgot about it.
So now if I want detail in there I can come in and do this careful rendering.
We can study our laws of light and get our reflected light under control and we'll do paintings
and demonstrations where we do that. In this case I'm just going to
draw a little line in there, which is what
Sargent would do and Rembrandt would often times do.
And now I'm gonna show you how to make a toned canvas. There's two ways to do that.
One is you do a painting that you don't like, it's just terrible
or it was a little sketch like this that served its purpose and I want that surface
back to do another one. You can take
your pallet knife and scrape off any excess
paint that's globbed up.
And then I'm just dipping my paper towel
in a little bit of solvent
and I rub it. Just that simple. And now it's rubbed into
some kind of gray.
Now if I'm
planning to work on it right away, I would throw that
paper towel away, grab another one that's dry, no
solvent, rub it again
and go to a clean
surface, rub it again, and scrub it down
until, with your dry paper towel or rag,
you get it down, you can see it's still
pulling off, we'll continue. You get it down to where it
it's not real slick and watery but
pretty dry. You can keep rubbing and rubbing and rubbing but that's pretty good.
And then you can start your next drawing on your toned canvas.
And now there's my egg again, there's my
tabletop and cast shadow, and I can begin again,
Or I decided I screwed that drawing up, I just rub
that back into the surrounding tone
and I have a toned canvas. So you can work
right on that slightly damp surface or you
can let it dry overnight, as I did with this one, and it's just perfectly
dry surface. So we're gonna take a break. I'm gonna remove this canvas and we're gonna do
another sketch, this time a bowl that has a convex
and a concave surface to light instead of just the
convexity of the egg. And we'll do another painting
over that dry surface so I'll show you how that goes. But let's take a break
while I set up for our next segment and we'll move right into it.
Free to try
1. Introduction and lesson overview47sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Getting started14m 26s
3. Finding your light source14m 37s
4. Using light with your painting15m 15s
5. Finalizing your painting11m 1s