Self-built miniature model for a painting!

2 Years ago I painted this painting from a live model over the summer:

'Katrina', Oil on Board

After the painting was done, I felt restless about the background, which I did not like at all.

I realized what this model and pose really remind me of are a solitary moment of an Arabian princess, as she’s getting dressed in private, standing in a tent, catching a glimpse of the desert sunset through a crack in the tent opening.
From the moment I thought of that idea, I was sold on it. Continue reading

About getting in “The mood” for painting

An artwork must have all its elements integrated around its theme to be good. This means that every detail that is being painted has to be painted such that it helps to emphasize the meaning of the work.

A painting involves so many things to keep in mind to create it: the colors, value, brushwork, edges, colors, thickness of paint, drawing aspect and so on – that something must be used to allow the artist to maintain the cohesiveness of the work while creating its different parts.

The only way to do it, in my opinion, is to let all the artist’s skills, experience and knowledge work from the background and work primarily from their emotions and inspiration in terms of the artist’s state of mind.

When I’m immersed in the work such that I feel as if it is a real world and I am inside it – I do things right. When I find myself thinking of other, technical things and try to work that way the result is always inferior.

To illustrate: suppose you’re working on the background of a painting, the environment in which your figure would go; you can paint it while thinking things like: “A background needs to be unified, it needs to be subtle, so I’ll work my brush thinly and do this and that technical details”, OR you can think something along the lines of how the figure would feel about the background, as if it were a real place. Something like: “The sky seem distant such that the figure feels that they are inside a huge space. Nothing is pressing on them and the sky surrounds the figure as if it belongs there”.

Surprisingly, the sky would come out looking like all the technical things you wanted it to be if you think of the later, but will likely not be as nice if you try to think of it in technical terms as you’re creating it.


Now this long train of thought it actually just the introduction to a different topic which really bothers me. That is; the difficulty of getting into that state of mind.

I think that this is the most difficult challenge I am facing as an artist. I find the mood inspired upon me by my day to day life is a huge obstacle to “getting in the right mood” to make my art.
My art demands the best of me, the best part of my soul, and I feel as if, either the circumstances of my life or something in me that does not allow me to delve into that.
If I start working on a painting and I am at the easel every day (like when I’m at my school), I might eventually get into the right mood, if I feel it spiritually “safe”.
Years ago, when I was done with my army service (at age 19), I lived alone, in a nice, isolated studio apartment with no TV or computer and a phone I barely used (by choice). I painted all day and night, every day and every night and in the rest of the time worked or took walks in the area by myself.
I have never been more productive in my art in my life. It was the right environment for it. I was very happy, but also lonely (and not financially stable).

I need to find a different way to get into the mood that doesn’t involve the extreme of removing every trace of human contact from my life.
I wonder what it is, and why, that having no one around has such a powerful effect on letting me allow that inside world to come out, to make it real and to immerse myself in it.


Not being able to get into the “mood”, I usually just do something else. Days and weeks go by and no painting gets done. True, I could discipline myself into being at my easel, but the clash of motivations is very strong, and unless I manage to really immerse myself in the mood of the painting, I won’t paint it well anyway.

I bet this is a big problem for a lot of artists who create work based on inspiration.


Tomorrow starts my second term of my last year at Georgetown atelier. I wonder how the routine of getting back to the easel every day and painting will affect me. I hope it will affect me for the better.




Thoughts about the Painting process

Painting the figure is complex. There are a lot of things that need to be taken under account, such as proportion, anatomy, value, color – not to mention the gesture and expression and how each part of the painting relates to the whole.

The more complexity the artist can retain at any given time, the better off the painting will be, because the more factors would be calculated into each brush stroke. However, in reality, doing all of it at once is too daunting a task. It gets easier with experience, since more and more knowledge becomes automatized, but still, a lot of complexity remains anyway.

So, the artist must come up with a method of reducing that complexity into manageable steps. Traditionally, this is usually achieved by doing a block-in (a simplified drawing of the major lines and value shapes), then painting a light, transparent, monochromatic version of the subject, to figure out the value scale of everything and then finally adding the color.

This way, every aspect of the complexity is dealt with one at a time. In what’s called Ala-Prima painting, everything has to be done at the same time more or less. The accuracy of the drawing, the values, colors and the integration of every part of the painting around its theme or focal point.
However, even in doing this there are ways to reduce the complexity and dealing with it one thing at a time. Different people would prioritize what to “solve” first differently. This realization struck me clearly as I saw a picture of the following painting by Morgan Weistling in mid-stage of making it:

Look at the girl’s left hand, the one not fully painted yet. This, for me, was the giveaway. The interesting thing here is what the artist prioritized – what complexity he chose to target first. In this case, it wasn’t the structure; it was the color and value relationship. As you can see, the hand is still lacking its structure – there are no knuckles, the fingers are not yet separated and the exact outline formed by each finger is not yet accurately described. From this general paint blob, he will later carve out, or add, the structure.
Another thing that was being solved there was the proportion and the general shape. The artist was able to do that because, after years of drawing experience, those things come easily and are well automatized.

With most artists, I believe, the drawing aspect is the one issue that needs to be solved first, because it holds the most complexity, and everything else is then built on top and in relation to that initial stage. (That is the case with me with most paintings, with some exceptions).

I think that there can be two approaches here: One is to first put down the easiest thing to solve, what one already has automatized, and then build the complexity and other aspects on top of that. Or the other approach is to first start with the most complex part, get it out the way and then build the other things on top.
It is much easier, in my opinion, to use the second method, because without it, an artist can get a sense of being overwhelmed with the complexity, which isn’t made a lot better simply because something like the value or colors have been figured out. However, I think it makes for a better painting or drawing when the value is prioritized first, and the structure emerges from it rather than the other way around.

Velasquez is an excellent example of this. He has the structure well automatized that he is able to put it last, not first, and since his primary focus is value and color, he can imply the structure in a subtle yet accurate way, just enough to get the idea across, without describing everything in detail. It gives the viewer a sense of epistemological power; a sense of being able to mentally hold complexity in a simplified form; a sense of control over complexity.

Value, in a work of art, is the primary tool for unification and differentiation. It can be used to sharpen differences between objects of to unify them and send them to the background. Both are important in a work of art, because art described things in a selective way – it enhances the central aspects of a painting and de-emphasizes the ones that serve merely as context or setting for the main focus.

Incidentally, while I admire the painting style of the first artist I shared here by Morgan Weistling, I think he utilizes the same style all over the painting non-selectively. A lot of artists do that, with different styles (it can also be done with photo realism). Compare that to this painting by Ilya Repin, a Russian painter from the 1850’s – notice how the ships in the background are mushed together in value and lack detail to de-emphasize them and send them to the background, while the men are described much more and appear to emerge. I think this selectivity of rendering makes for a superior art work.
Therefore, I think it is wise to start a painting with the values figured out, and then have the structure emerge out of that, slowly and in a controlled way, creating the emphasis only where the artist needs it to be.
The problem here is that it is more difficult to describe (or what I call “solve” or “figure out”) the structure rather than the value, and so if all your canvas has is the general values, the entire complexity of the drawing needs to be solved as you go. Ouch!
I think a solution to that is the wipe-out process, which retains some information of the drawing while still unifying the values across the entire painting.

Anyhow, I don’t feel like I’ve reached a definite conclusion, but rather made some interesting observations about how an artist approaches a painting and deals with its complexity.

I think in most cases, the artist will first solve what is most difficult and what takes up most of their mental space. This changes over time once some aspects become more automatized compared to others (these are usually what the artist is most fascinated with).

I’ll have to continue this line of thinking some other time!

Merry Christmas!


Recent paintings and thoughts about modern Art (Weekly #24)

Long time no see, Blog. Don’t ask, I’ve been sick for a week and had a lot of other stuff going on, but I’m back, ready to provide you with some fresh content.

First is the painting I did at my Atelier last week, working from a live model for 5 days. This was done in 4 colors: Redish brown, Yellow, Black and White.

I would get cool tones from mixing black and white to make a gray, or from mixing black and yellow to create a green, warming it up with red as necessary.
I was able to achieve a peach-brown by mixing my brown with white, or leaning more toward an orange by mixing it with the yellow, neutralizing it as necessary with the black and white. Wooha!

I also started working with a new palette which I absolutely love. It’s a glass palette. The neat thing about it is that I can control the background color against which I mix my colors, which allows me to see what I’m mixing so much better.

I decided that from now on I will start using a paper color that matches the average color of the skin tone of the model in the light.  It really helps.

Here is the painting, done over 5 sittings of 3 hours each.

One of the things I learned here was how to solve the problem of cropping a figure against an abstract background. In this case, for example, I wanted to emphasize the triangle shape his arms created and end the painting there without painting the lower body part. The reason for this is that I felt that the core of the pose for me was the strength created by the two joined arms and that it was framing the body nicely. I liked the strength of it.

But then the problem was how to get rid of the rest of the body mass without making it looked chopped off. At first I simply didn’t paint it, which gave it a lovely Cheshire cat look, where one sees only the head of the cat. As lovely as that was, I decided against it. And painting carelessly and mostly using my subconscious the idea came to me to paint the beginning of the other parts in the right value, but with the background color instead of the flesh tones. This allowed me to then dissolve it at will into the background without making it feel like a strange operation was involved.

If you’re not an artist, this might bore you to death. And it might still bore you to death even if you are an artist, I don’t know. But it doesn’t bore me! Which is why I keep talking about it. 🙂
But anyway, indeed, it’s time to move on.


I also painted a few still life paintings. I am painting them quickly, one every day or two, with the purpose to practice and learn paint handling. Here is the result:


My next project is going to be a group of glass objects. It’s going to be longer than these studies – a 2 week project or so.

My next figurative project is going to be 2 weeks long, working from a live model again – a male model. I don’t know what the pose will be because I have no control over it. I will choose the angle and how I render it, but that’s about it. I hope it will be something I like.


I actually have a lot of thoughts about art and about my art, but they have not grown deep enough roots yet in my mind to articulate or write about.

I find that usually when I have an idea, it is not isolated – it is part of a generalization which relates to other areas of my life, and the process of forming the generalization and making the connections takes time and thinking which spans over years sometimes.

I was thinking about what art IS. I believe if you ask someone who has been through art school they will tell you that everything can be made into art.
If you asked what a spoon is and someone told you that a spoon could be anything and everything you would think they are nuts. Why? Because a spoon is a specific object, with a specific shape-family and function.
But the same does not apply to art. Why? Because the identity of art involves a high level abstraction. Forming the concept of what art IS involves identifying a lot of abstract qualities about art. In our modern age where people are taught not to trust their own mind, performing this level of abstraction on our own is extremely difficult, borderline impossible.

Similarly, the question “what is a spoon” is much easier than “what is justice?”. The later involves a chain of abstract concepts which need to be retained and which have no immediate physical manifestation. You don’t “see” justice in the street the way you might see a spoon.
The essence of “justice” is hidden in actions, in seeing similarity and relating them to one’s existing spiritual values. It’s harder to do.


In the last decade there has been a resurgence of classical realism. In the last 10 years over a dozen ateliers have opened across the United States and Europe where none existed earlier on. The only option for artists seeking training was an art degree, which was a pile of wishy washy intellectual crap without a single course offered as a saving grace to develop actual rendering skills. Pretty much, that was it.
The leading premise was that to teach an artist anything concrete would be to destroy their artistic freedom and identity – to make them into a mold. But actually, what this idea mean is that to have an identity means to lose freedom. In fact, if something has no identity, it does not exist.

We are conceptual beings, but to form those concepts and concretize them we need a visualization of them. Something like “Pride” may only be understood when seen on a human face or through some action (like soldiers, going to war). There is an inseparable connection between the tangible and the abstract. Take away the tangible and you “art” is a pile of materials. It is no longer ART. It’s a piece of no good junk. (OK, I may be going overboard here, but I couldn’t resist. I just love calling things a piece of no good junk, especially in a southern accent for added emphasis). It’s true of most of them anyway, if not all. I wouldn’t know because I find them too boring to pay attention to.

Believe it or not, I got my share of hate for my belief. As if that’s gonna stop me. If you want someone who supports modern art you only have the rest of the world to talk to. Don’t take your insecurities in your opinion out on me.   You don’t see me torturing you because of what you believe, right? That’s because I am confident I am right.

Anyway now that this issue has been settled, I’d like to talk some more about something else on my mind.

As my “About” page mentions, I model in order to pay my tuition and living expenses. (By the way, buying any small piece of art off my hands would be SO appreciated).
I’ve had some thoughts about modeling. I absolutely love doing it. It involves standing still in a pose or several poses while a room full of people creates art based off of you.
I realized that what I enjoy about it resembles very much my motivation in making art.
When I am motivated to draw, paint or sculpt, the subconscious, underlying motivation is being able to communicate something to someone. Something which I feel very intensely about and which is unique to me. It’s as if a voice in my mind looks at the subject I want to paint and says to the future viewer: “Look how wonderful it is. See what I mean? See?” and then I am able to show what I mean by emphasizing all the things I see about it through rendering it. The way I would render an expression, or contort or stretch the body, or emphasize a certain light. All those things come together to show a vision, and the satisfaction is from having that vision understood and admired.

Modeling is the same in some regards. Through the way I hold my body I am able to communicate a vision. It is then up to others to interpret it or capture it as they like, but I do my part in describing something. The difference is that in this case the model’s body becomes the medium and he or she are a flesh and blood sculpture of their own vision (in case they decide on the pose). I enjoy this part of the job, which is otherwise physically demanding.

I’m all out of things to say tonight and so I’d like to end the post here.


Lastly, I’m happy to announce that I will be giving an interview about my art to The Objective Standard magazine. My deep thanks to Craig Biddle.


Wishing you a happy, productive week, and a fun holiday season,





Andrew Loomis on rhythm lines

One of the quotes by Loomis that were on display at my atelier grabbed my attention and I wanted to post it here:

I think those lines are even better when the form connections in a way that enhances the meaning of an artwork – in a way that enhances its story or mood.

Here are a couple of examples I posted about way back:

Weekly #8 and Weekly #6 (skip to the second picture in that post and start reading from there).

It is exactly like in music, only in visual form, as Loomis said. I find it somewhat amusing… when I first heard the idea of rhythm lines I told my teacher it reminds me of different parts of an orchestra coming together to form a symphony by playing variations on the theme at the same time. Then I saw that Loomis wrote something very similar way back. I felt so proud to have said something that Loomis had said, I had to boast. 😀



Another sunset cliche? I think not!

(Click image to Enlarge)

An artist friend once old me that if what you want to create has already been done, there is no point in creating it.

I couldn’t disagree more. This painting above, “Yseult”, by Frank Francis Bernard Dicksee (1853-1928), is a painting of a woman at sunset and could be easily seen as a cliche. The subject matter is certainly not un-repeating. But looking at it, one can experience a profound and unique moment. One can feel the vastness of the sea, the isolation and sorrow of this moment as the world is in its utmost beauty, laid open before her, at her fingertips.

So long as one is not blind to her face and the content of the painting, one is being carried away into a powerful emotional experience. To that moment all of us know, of feeling truly alone (not lonely; alone) in a vast universe, no commotion around us to distract us and no cheery conversation that occupies our mind. A moment of facing one’s own life, the reality of one’s own existence in the world and perhaps of one’s mortality. It is a moment of looking at one’s existence in a metaphysical sense.

This painting is grand, yet more paintings with a beautiful woman at sunset, at sea can be powerful. It is not the subject matter that matters – it is how strongly an artist believes in their message – how strongly they are inspired by it and are devoted to that and that alone.

An artist should stay true to their passion and disregard all other considerations in choosing what to create. Nothing one creates in that state of mind can ever be a replica, no matter what physical things one draws upon to paint or how many times they have been painted in the past.


My weekly post #16

A sketch I did from my head over the weekend:

I consider drawing from my head to be a very important part of my art training.
This stage of sketching out an idea is the most critical to the creation of art. I am essentially building the backbone for what might later become a finished work. This gives me the idea of what I want to see and achieve when I look at a real model. It might turn out that the pose in the sketch cannot be achieved quite the way I drew it in real life, or the model might not look the same and so on. The sketch serves as a blueprint and guide and can be combined with a real model to selectively create this vision in a realistic way (I should say, selectively real way).

On a different subject, I am officially on my summer vacation now. I return to school in mid September for my final year at Georgetown Atelier.

This summer will be dedicated to making and saving money for next year, some teaching, studying anatomy and perspective as well as moving out to a new apartment.
I am trying to sort some things out for myself, some personal and some relating to my profession. One interesting article I read today, was recommended to me by an acquainted who have had Atelier training himself: “Working on two tracks” by Steven Pressfield. I find the article very interesting. I find that the topic requires a lot of analysis and deserves serious consideration in depth.

The article discusses two possible paths of motivation as an artist: external vs. internal validation.
Granted, this IS indeed something to tackle and think about. Obviously, the right way to go is the path of objective internal validation. On the other hand, External validation is very valuable when other people are a good judge.
This, however, brings up some heavy heavy philosophical questions, one of which is the objectivity of art.
I do believe that external validation is important when it comes from the right source. When it comes from people whose opinion you respect for reasons for which you would judge your own art to be successful or unsuccessful.
Since it’s 1:30am now, I will postpone the continuation of the discussion to another time.


During the summer I will be taking a break from my weekly posts since I won’t have as much content to post. I will post occasionally when I have new things to share. 

Last note; I am selling my student work from the past 2 years. Some are 1 week paintings and others 5 months drawings. Sifting through it could be a bit like a treasure hunt.
If you find one you like, contact me about buying it. This will help me pay my tuition and related expenses next year and will be much appreciated.
Here is the LINK to the list of works and prices.

Thank you for your continued interest,


Creating art as introspection (weekly #12)

My core motivation in making art is a process of self discovery and contemplation.

Drawing or painting an image from my head allows me to look at it as a concrete and better understand what it is I had in mind. It is a process of translation from something abstract in my mind to a physical representation of it.

As I’m creating the drawing, I would feel compelled to move some parts, increase certain aspects of the gesture or minimize them, have the head turn a certain way, have the character look a certain direction or have a certain expression – I don’t always know all the parts beforehand – sometimes they become clear after I put down some core part of the idea I had in mind.

The best examples to illustrate this can be found in my old drawings (about 10 years ago) when I was drawing from my head. These drawings are anatomically bad, but they have something good. The stuff that makes art – art. That spice that cannot be mistaken for any other – authentic introspection (or inspiration).
They show a process of discovering the physical representation of something I found interesting and appealing, the process of finding that translation.

For example, in the drawing above, I had in mind a certain character, which was best expressed in a moment of fleeting attention to something.
Usually, no one would give this drawing a second or a first look because it is technically poor, but, wait one minute longer, see if you can find something interesting about it that would make you want to see this woman as a well-developed painting.
What I see, is a face and an expression one rarely encounters. She seems cold and mildly interested in what she is looking at, but at the same time she seems like a person who is not easily interested in things because she knows so much already (not because she is shallow or not curious as a person).
For me, the drawing started from a similar feeling to how this woman seem, and the motivation to draw it was a compelling urge to make it real so I can look at it, move some lines, change things, move her eyebrows up or down, decide if her mouth should be open or closed until I know it’s captures “that thing” just right. I don’t know what “that thing” is as I put it, nor why it is better if she has her mouth open and not closed – those questions are answered later, maybe, say, 10 years later as I’m looking at it, or ideally, after the first sketch and before I move on to working on making it a final, well developed piece.

I go through a similar process in drawing the whole figure from imagination, or while describing a certain situation. In the next drawing , for example, I actually had the dragon in mind, and the lady with it was a derivative.

The dragon is upset – it has to go through a long journey chained and shackled. It’s sitting in a corner, looking at its chains and crying, while its captive is care free.
The funny thing about it is that the dragon is 50 times stronger than the woman – the chain is not secured to the ground, but loosely tied to a thin, brittle stick which the girl is holding. The dragon can escape at any time, yet it doesn’t know it because it is busy looking at its shackles and crying. Too busy following its captor obediently to realize how easily he can be free. The idea doesn’t start with a dragon, in this case I couldn’t tell you what the idea started as, it somehow just was in my mind but then I still had that need to see how it would look like, to go through the process of figuring this idea out.

I had a similar moment to that as I was working on the background for the current painting I’m working on at my school. This one, however is different because I have limited choice in the subject matter. I did, however, choose the background:

I was struggling with the background for a while, trying different things that didn’t work until finally, I gave my self permission to just put things down boldly, to put down what I really want to see. So I started by making the curvy line and darkening the area bellow it, then, I knew I wanted bright sky behind her, I put the ocean line and the sky, then I realized this could be the edge of a large round window on a ship.

This is how groping for ideas for the background looked like at the beginning:


One last thing I want to talk about relates to the content with which I started this post.
In the past I would draw, not knowing what my technical drawbacks were. Being unaware of any flaws, I felt free to put down whatever was on my mind. I had total freedom to explore my ideas and I produced a lot of such fast drawings and paintings too.
After a while I realized the drawbacks and I was not satisfied with the technical side of my art anymore. I refrained from drawing because I was afraid to disappoint myself.
Today I realize, it doesn’t matter at all. You can always have room to improve the technical side of your work, as an artist, but what is equally valuable or of greater value, perhaps, is to be able to express your ideas; to have open communication with your subconscious and to be able to put down lines to create a drawing like the first one I shared here, of a woman’s face.
Today, equipped with better knowledge and experience I can improve the anatomy of that face, but I could never get back that moment and expression had I not put them down. If all I focused on was getting the anatomy right, all I would have now is one more anatomically accurate face. Boy, am I glad I didn’t worry about all that stuff!

The realization I had was that as an artist, preserving your soul is just as hard a job as improving your technical skills. You must give yourself permission and place to screw up in technique; to be wrong; whatever it takes, but keep that “channel” to your subconscious open.
Creativity is a habit, but a fragile one that needs to be nurtured and guarded. The good news is that all it really takes is your own permission.

Today I am celebrating my 31st Birthday. It is not a coincidence that today of all days I am sharing my oldest work which is also technically worst, something you would expect an artist to keep hidden in their closet.
As an artist, it is THOSE paintings and not my current ones (which are technically superior) which I would celebrate primarily. Those have my soul, these have my mind (as well as some of my soul). I find both equally difficult to make and eventually I will have the combined challenge of both things.

I hope that by putting my old work here for display for all to see, I am giving courage to someone else out there to embrace their own work and cherish their inner “spark”: don’t trade it for a better technique or for compliments. It just ain’t worth it, man.

I wish myself a good birthday and a successful and happy year to come.
Why, thank you, that’s very nice of you to say, Ifat. You too. 😉


Painting and Abstracting (weekly #9)

Progress with my painting: 2 weeks ago I posted a drawing and the study of the painting I’m working on now at my school. Friday I took a picture of it with my cellphone. This picture is unfortunately not true to color, please take that under account when viewing.

This week’s plan: Work on the shirt and vest, finish the hat, the background, and do final touches on the face and neck.
This picture shows the “sinking in” phenomenon very well. It’s a phenomenon where the oil pigments appear lighter than they are and in a different color. The vest, for example, appears black-gray even though it is brown in real life. This is why it is important to cover the painting with a thin layer of oil before working back into it to revive the color and see it correctly. This process also has its own difficulties; for example, if the paint is not thoroughly dry, the oil may lift it up, it may even get smeared into new areas and make the painting “muddy”. It’s therefore very important to be in control of the painting and know exactly what parts are wet and what parts are dry.


One thing I thought of is that the skill of figure drawing involves abstracting things about the figure and then using those abstractions as a guide when drawing or painting. The abstractions can take a literal form, such as: “the eyes are located in the halfway point of the head”, or a more perceptual form, such as remembering the general shape of the eye socket.
I’ve been doing a lot of this process of abstraction, which I exercise at home sometimes by sculpting or sketching from my head. Here is one small plasteline-clay sculpture I did this weekend:

I don’t know why, but I find that the pleasure in working entirely from my head is not surpassed by any other process of making art. I realize that the result is not as good as working from a reference, but I wish I knew what causes this feeling of delight and how I can replicate it when working from a reference.

I think it is really important as an artist to let your emotions run the show. I don’t quite know how to explain what I mean perfectly; I am not talking about any sort of random emotion that comes up during work (that can actually be an obstacle), but rather about the feelings relating to the artist’s subject matter. Some parts of the subject matter are bound to carry more interest than others for the artist. I think it’s OK to be bored with some aspects of the painting and let that affect how you paint. In fact this is what produces a good painting in my opinion because it replicates that feeling the artist had about what he paints in the viewer’s mind. It enhances the parts that are interesting and central about the piece and sends to the background the things that are not. It is, perhaps, the closest a person can get to experiencing something through another person’s mind.

Lastly, I’d like to share a small piece of writing by my teacher, Tenaya Sims, which I found interesting and which relates to “seeing through someone else’s eyes”. This is from the latest Newsletter of Georgetown Atelier (where I study).

The basic idea is if you approach painting your shadows in a thin/transparent manner, while building the textural qualities in the lights,  it will increase the depth and three-dimensionality of your painting. Executing shadows in this way helps keep them more atmospheric and ‘shadowy’, and pushes them back into the depths of the painting.  People naturally focus on one area at a time when looking at anything, and usually look first at the illuminated forms rather than those in shadow. Everything not in our focus is more hazy, or by definition is ‘out of focus’. For this reason it’s more effective to simulate the way people see in our paintings than to render each passage equally in focus. Putting in too much information in the shadows, or painting them too thickly (resulting in the surface of the painting coming forward) can negate the effect of how we naturally see. On the other hand, building up the texture and opacity in the lights, or ‘sculpting the lights with paint’ as I like to say, helps to enhance the focal areas of the painting and brings them both literally and perceptually forward to the viewer.

Simulating the ‘way that we see’ in a painting is much more difficult than it sounds. This is simply because while we’re working on any one particular area, that area is in focus for us, but may not be for the viewer taking in the whole scene of the painting on first glance. It requires us to plan out the ‘global relationships’ of our painting, and remember to stick to that global plan even while working in specific ‘micro’ areas. It requires us to be both the General and Marine, or in other tems, know how our ‘shadowy village’ fits within its country.

This method of simulating the human way of experiencing what we see in a painting is a way to further refine an experience and bring it closer to how we experience it as conceptual beings rather than raw sensations (which is closer to what a camera sees). It’s a little bit like a double filter: seeing something after someone else saw it for you first.


I’ll end the post here.
Have a good week,