The Secret to Painting Realistic Shadows in Sunlight

The Secret to Painting Realistic Shadows in Sunlight

“A Painting is complete when it has a Shadow of a God”
Rembrandt van Rijn

I remember being taught at art college that shadows weren’t really present in paintings until the Renaissance period.

And you’d be forgiven for thinking when you look at some beginners work, that they were from Ancient Greece – they didn’t use shadows either!

In live painting classes in the past, when I’ve mentioned the words ‘cast shadow’, students concentration wains or worse, a look of rising panic crosses their faces as if they’ve been duped into a technical drawing class.

I’m not quite sure why cast shadows seem so mysterious, elusive or confusing. Shadows help to ‘ground’ an object and learning to accurately observe them, is the most effective way of making your paintings look convincing.

And just by switching the name around it seems easier to digest.

Shadows cast.

I want to keep it simple without the complications of multiple light sources or atmospheric perspective that occurs in vast landscapes, today I am going to focus on shadows cast outside, by sunlight.

Shadows cast by a tree, by a building, shadows cast by a chair or plant pot. The shadow that is falling onto the ground, or against a wall, or onto a table.

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Monet & Architecture at the National Gallery (London)

Claude Monet, The Thames below Westminster, about 1871

Claude Monet, The Thames below Westminster, about 1871

“Other painters paint a bridge, a house, a boat, I want to paint the air that surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat – the beauty of the light in which they exist.” – Claude Monet

The French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) is best known for his brilliant paintings of landscapes, coastline and water-lilies, but this month saw the opening of a new exhibition ‘Monet & Architecture’ at the National Gallery, London.

This show highlights his interest in architecture, not only compositionally, but how he used it as a backdrop and tool to capture the changing effects of light and I was fortunate enough to catch it this week!

Bringing together over 75 of Monet’s paintings from all over the world, the rooms are unconventionally grouped following architectural subject matter, The Village & the Picturesque, The City & the Modern and The Monument & the Mysterious.

The idea of creating paintings based on ‘picturesque ideals’ influenced Monet’s early work and this concept was part of the larger ‘picturesque landscape’ debate originating in England.

Professor Richard Thomson, the curator of the show, explains,

“One of the points of this exhibition was to take a very famous artist, who people think they know, but to take a look at his work in a different way

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(Free PDF Download) Beginner’s Guide to Acrylics

(Free PDF Download) Beginner's Guide to Acrylics

Morning Class!

If you’re new to the website I’ve put together a Free PDF ‘Beginners Guide to Acrylics’ which includes a brief overview about acrylic paint, colour palettes, tools & materials as well as showing you how the different areas of the Will Kemp Art School fit together.

I introduce the principles behind my teaching, a catalogue of all the free video painting tutorials on the website and a section on how to find the perfect course for you.

If you click the link Free PDF ‘Beginners Guide to Acrylics’ you can download it and have a read through with a brew!

Hope you enjoy it,

Cheers,

Will

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Sketching Art Materials with Pen & Wash

teapot-sketch-pen-ink

Morning class! This week I’ve been putting together a new ‘Beginners Guide’ for the Art School and wanted to add a few little material sketches. For all the sketches I used the following pens on 220 gsm smooth, heavyweight cartridge paper which can handle light watercolour washes.

Materials – Pen & Wash

urban-sketching-materials-pens

  • Lamy Safari Fountain Pen – filled with Lamy water-soluble black ink
  • Pentel Aquash Waterbrush Pen – this bad boy just holds the perfect about of water in the brush filament tip to wash-in water-soluble ink
  • Muji 0.5mm Black Fine Liner – so smooth and works well at any angle at a rapid speed
  • Pentel Brush Pen – if you’re struggling  to create broken line effects, treat yourself to this pen, you can block in deep blacks really quickly
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Acrylic Still Life Study of a Fish using Acrylic Glazing Techniques (Free 25 min Video Tutorial)

Acrylic Still Life Study of a Fish using Acrylic Glazing Techniques (Free 25 min Video Tutorial)

Morning class!

This week we’re going to be painting a simple study of a fish, taking inspiration from objects you might see everyday and transforming them into paint.

The video tutorial looks at how you can combine a monochrome underpainting with colour glazes to create a luminosity in your acrylic paintings. We’ll keep the freshness of the piece by building up layers of clear transparent glazes and all we going to be using is 5 paints and a couple of brushes.

I’ll be using a stay-wet palette to hold my tonal colour string mixes in, and then any leftover colours from the painting, can go back in there ready for my next piece.

You can download the reference image below to work along from, so grab a brew (maybe a couple of biscuits) and let’s get painting!!…

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Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris

Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris

We arrived in Paris to catch the last few days of a retrospective exhibition of the Swedish painter Anders Zorn (1860-1920)

Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris

After a snowy week in England, we woke to blue skies, warm croissants and this amazing rooftop view from our hotel room. I couldn’t resist a quick pen sketch of the row of chimney pots in the distance before we hit the show, check out those windows!

Discovering Zorn, the Petit Palais & Patisseries in Paris

Sketch from Hotel, Rotring Art Pen (F), Pentel Brush Pen and Pentel Aquash Water Pen in A6 size (10 x 15cm) Seawhites of Brighton Sketchpad (140gsm All-Media Cartridge Paper)

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Thanksgiving Thanks!

Thanksgiving Thanks!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been reflecting on all the positivity and creativity that comes through the Art School blog.

So I’d like to thank you all for your support & encouragement this year. The most rewarding thing for me is seeing students progress in their drawing and painting where they’d previously been struggling.

Update on our first batch of Winter homebrew:

I think this will be the perfect accompaniment to the festive food tastings in our local town square, it’s a Pale Ale from St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk, UK, described as having a ‘caramel aroma, with a pleasing toffee apple flavour‘. Not sure I’m picking up all the flavour notes, but the more sips I’m having, the more experienced my palette is becoming!

Thanksgiving Thanks!

Have a great weekend!

Cheers,

Will

 

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The Immersive Power of Painting (a Painting Truth you can Learn too Late)

The Immersive Power of Painting (a Painting Truth you can Learn too Late)

How often have you heard yourself say “I’d love to paint but I’ve got too much going on… I’ll have to wait till I’ve finished work….the kids have grown up….

“I wish I had more time to paint but… but, but, but”

Just finding space to set your paints out means upheaval of something else and squeezing a free window of time feels too difficult to plan in an already jam-packed calendar.

And then, having to learn how to paint on top of that ….uh, I can see why you’d think you’d have to wait until you retire!

But is it possible by not painting now, you’re missing out?

What if you don’t need more time to paint, but you need to paint, to give your mind a much-needed refresh?…

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Studying Holbein’s Portrait Drawings: A Brief Encounter

Studying Holbein's Portrait Drawings: A Brief Encounter

Detail, Mary Zouch, Hans Holbein The Younger, Black and Coloured Chalks, Pen and Ink c.1532-43, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

I was in London last month to catch the Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt exhibition, held at the National Portrait Gallery until 22 October 2017.

I was particularly interested in studying the collection of portrait drawings by Hans Holbein the Younger on loan from the Queen’s Royal Collection, Windsor Castle.
I’ve always admired Holbein’s oil portraits at the National Gallery London and the Uffizi Gallery, Florence but only ever seen images of some of his drawings in books.

The exhibition room was quite small, the lights low with very few other visitors and it really felt such a privilege to view these drawings in such an intimate space.

The walls were painted a dark Prussian Blue and many of the Holbein drawings were on a muted pink ground hung side-by-side in a line. They were all relatively the same size and the first thing I noticed as my eye jumped across them, was the variety of silhouette shapes created by the headwear and angle of the pose gave a real sense of the sitter.

You can’t help your mind wandering back to the Tudor Court of Henry VIII and wondering about the characters in the portraits (and for the fans of ‘Wolf Hall’ I have to admit, I was silently humming the theme tune)

They felt so fresh with some of the contour lines reminding me of a Singer Sargent’s portrait, it’s pretty amazing to see how contemporary these drawings looked considering they were drawn over 400 years ago.

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New! Floral Still Life Acrylic Painting Course is now Available!

New! Floral Still Life Acrylic Painting Course is now Available!

Morning Class!

The new Floral Still Life Acrylic Painting Course is now available!

I’ve developed this course to show you how you can transfer the feeling of simplicity and light into a studio floral still life by the arrangement of colours, composition and tonal value range.

Taking classical painting techniques to build up an indirect painting in acrylics you’ll create a more contemporary still life painting that allows you to use a light modern palette and still see a good three-dimensional form.

Cheers,
Will

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Water-Mixable Oils vs Traditional Oils for Solvent-Free Oil Painting (Video)

Water-Mixable Oils vs Traditional Oils for Solvent-Free Oil Painting (Video)

You like the idea of trying oil paints but the practicalities of cleaning up your brushes with solvents is out of the question.

It could be you paint in a small room without good ventilation or you’ve had to stop using traditional oils due to skin sensitivities or asthma.

So what’s the alternative? Acrylics? Watercolour? or go old school with some Egg tempera?

How about a real oil paint that can be mixed with water or natural drying oils and cleaned with soap and water. Long working time, soft blends, buttery consistency, no solvents and a super easy cleanup.

Mmm, sounds too good to be true, so what’s the catch?…

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How to Paint a Plein Air Sketch of a Lemon Tree with Acrylics (Video Tutorial)

Morning class, this week I’ve been in Mallorca soaking up the scenery and enjoying painting outside. I found this secluded tree within a lemon grove that I thought would work well as a little Plein air sketch with acrylics.

You can download a reference image below to follow along with the lesson.

Downloading the reference photograph

The photo below can be ‘right clicked’ and ‘Save image as’, so you can use it as a reference image, print it out and follow along with the video above.

How to Paint a Plein Air Sketch of a Lemon Tree with Acrylics (Video Tutorial)

You can download a larger version of the image here.

lemon-grove-sketch

Whenever I’m sketching outside, I’m always looking for contrast and shapes that will translate well into a drawing as well as a painting…

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Inspiration, Impressionism and the Power of Environment

Inspiration, Impressionism and the Power of Environment

I’d travelled through the Cotswolds many times before, captivated by the golden glow of the honey-coloured stone buildings, that just seemed to lend themselves to being painted.

The earthy tones of yellow ochre complimented by soft dull lilacs of wisteria-laden-branches create a really mellow colour palette, you then have crumbling walls surrounded by trees and foliage that bring in a bright sap-green colour pop…

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How to Paint a Simple Still Life using Oil Paints

simple-still-life-painting-tutorial

Morning class!

If you’ve ever wanted to have a go with oils but felt the mysterious mix of Linseed Oil and Turpentine put you off, then this simple still life study is for you.

It uses just one medium mix the whole way through and I demonstrate the similarities between the techniques we’ve been using on previous acrylic paintings tutorials.

Traditional oil painting medium recipes can be complicated but it’s not essential to master it all so I’ve kept it simple so you can get painting.

Switching between acrylics and oil paint can be a smooth transition, the main difference is how you dilute the pigments.

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New! Venice – Light & the Landscape Impressionistic Course is now Live!

New! Venice - Light & the Landscape Impressionistic Course is now Live!

Morning Class!

The new Venice – Light & the Landscape Impressionistic Course is now available!

I’ve developed this acrylic painting course inspired by a Venetian Sunset to help guide you through the process of moving from small-scale to large-scale acrylic paintings.

What pitfalls does an artist face when painting big?

As a student visiting the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris,  I’d just seen Monet’s monumental Water Lily paintings and I was in awe.

The sheer scale of the pieces with thick painterly brush strokes inspired me to get back to my little studio space at home.

It was time to break out with the big canvas.

I wanted to create impressionistic landscapes and seascapes that still held the qualities of light-fall and realism that I’d seen, but maybe a little bit smaller than 40ft!

And this immersive large-scale painting experience is what many beginner artists want, it feels exciting and well….arty to create something big and expressive.

Grabbing a large decorators brush, making gestural marks on your canvas – feels invigorating, almost like a breakthrough and then…. you start to hear your inner artist voice getting overwhelmed.

You haven’t got a plan, you don’t know what the next step is so you lose you nerve…

You can read more about the course here

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