Painting with Reflected Light

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Here’s a quick painting tip for you to consider.




Beginning artists who are first learning to paint tend to look at objects in terms of dark and light. An apple, for instance, can be formed using light red and dark red.

Apple1

Now, if you can draw and render well, you can probably create some fairly good paintings with this vein of thinking. However, if you want to add some more punch and sophistication to your work, try adding a little reflected light.

In a painting, you will usually have one main light source that determines your major dark and light shapes. Reflected light is secondary. It usually comes from the opposite direction as your main light source, and is the opposite temperature. For example, let’s take another look at the apple painting. Say the main light source, a warm yellow, is shining on the top right of the apple. A subtle, cool reflected light would show on the bottom left edge.

Apple2

It’s a simple trick, but it can do wonders. One of my professors gave me this small suggestion while I was in school, and I think it vastly improved my work. And it got me thinking more about the subtleties of color and light. Now, I love to paint with strong reflected light whenever I can; it can create some really interesting and beautiful results.

Light1 Light2 Light3