Some months ago I had a catalytic, aesthetic breakthrough--I
discovered the tremendous value of the triangulation light and
dark. It has sped my realistic technique, intensified eye
movement, and allowed for more subtlety than I could have
Here is one piece which fully realized this technique, Three
Fruits, 2006, oil on canvas panel, 9 x 12".
To create the
feeling of light, it is important to have a hierarchy of lights
and darks. If you have several lights and darks of equal value
spread over canvas, you will surely kill off any life and
excitement in your work. The problem is that it is very
difficult to keep track of all the subtle shifts in tone. On the
opposite side you can be so subtle and afraid to paint
powerfully that you end up with a dull mess. One answer, for me,
is this triangulation of light and dark.
Three Fruits, 2005, oil on panel, 12x16"
Finally with the darks I did a similar comparison--finding my
dark, darker, and darkest areas. Here the darkest is the area
directly behind the plate and fruit. It's as black ivory as I
could make. Next is an area in the framed art piece on the
easel, followed by the shadow under the plate. Again it is
important that the 4th, 5th, etc. dark areas become simply
neutral darks, not getting close enough in tone to compete
against your darkest areas.
Do try it out
on some of your works I believe you will see immediate rewarding