Beauty: Going for Glow

Here's my second experiment in building luminance. I've tried out the classic structure of an oil painting, darks and lights underneath with coloured glazes over the top. (Now framed and available for sale.)

In the base layer I used black, white, Winsor Blue, Winsor Yellow and yellow ochre, to try to create patches of light/dark and warm/cold, aiming for a dappled sunlight effect. The basic structure is a vignette - light in the middle, dark round the outside. I made natural brush free marks using a palette knife to create texture, and smudged round the outside to emphasise the vignette composition.

The result was really quite blue, and a warm blue, rather than a cold blue, so not quite the light/dark cold/warm dappled effect I'd aimed for. It had a lot of texture and blended softness though, which I was pleased with.

For the top glaze I restricted myself to warm colours: yellows, reds and pinks, (with a little blue) as these were the colours I'd liked the result of most in the first experiment. I didn't use much white, as I wanted to allow as much of the tonal range of the underlayer to show through as possible. I diluted the oils with lots of linseed oil and a little solvent. 

After the glaze

After the glaze

The glaze created a wonderful fullness of colour. I left some patches uncovered, as highlights. The areas that I am happiest with in terms of creating "glow" are where there is a contrast in both tone and colour, such as the greens and purples, blues and oranges in the bottom sector.

In this layer I enjoyed making the brush marks obvious, perhaps because the underlayer added texture which stopped the paint strokes from being monotonous, and suggested where they should go. To finish, I scratched out flecks of the glaze, to allow the bottom layer to show through.

Overall I'd say that I am happy with the depth and richness of colour, but that there is rather too much of it - too much blue in the underlayer, too much yellow in the top layer, and too many colours overall. I think for greater glow, more white is needed too.

As I was painting this I was thinking about the natural lighting effects that glow: dust in sunbeams, early morning mist, sunlight through water. I think the next step is to try to paint some of these effects. I've put together a pinterest board of photographs of glowing lighting. This beautiful picture, by photographer Michel Loup just begs to be painted! I can imagine the finished painting clearly, hanging on a white wall. 

Waterlilies soar to the water's surface craving sunlight, by Michel Loup, from discoverwildlife.com

Waterlilies soar to the water's surface craving sunlight, by Michel Loup, from discoverwildlife.com