Saturday, October 14, 2017

Intermediate Watercolor 10/14/17 Shadows: Edges, Value and color

There's a very good way to take the guesswork out of watercolor shadows. When you mix up the local color, make a big patch of it on your practice paper (you do have one, right?). Then, when you think you've got the shadow color and value in the ball park, make a stroke across that patch and observe. Remember, if it looks right when you first lay it over the local color, it's too light. It should be a little too dark. It's always good to get your washes and strokes dark enough on the first try, but it's especially important with shadows. The more you fiddle with that first attempt, the less it looks like a shadow. The variations in saturation, the streaks and overlaps that come from uncertain brushwork read as texture, which is usually not a feature of shadows. In fact, I'd say that the most significant feature of a shadow is its insubstantiality. Like clouds, shadows can be thought of as "one try, take it or leave it" subjects.
Here are a couple of David Taylor's paintings. Notice how sure-handed he is with the shadows. You can tell he didn't go back over them to get them dark enough.

The photos below feature strong shadows. See what you can do to translate them efficiently into watercolor.

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