Be Forever Inspired by Light and Color

Today’s newsletter is written by an artist who is “forever inspired by light.” Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy this poetic and informative advice from Alain Picard. ~Cherie

Catching Fireflies by Alain J. Picard

The color wheel in pastel, by Alain Picard

The color wheel in pastel, by Alain Picard

Inspiration is the spark of creativity, and I am forever inspired by light. This radiant, dazzling muse has captured my attention from the beginning. However ephemeral her effects may be, I consider them worthy of my enduring exploration. Here’s something to consider; what if we–as artists–don’t as much paint the subject itself, but paint the light falling upon the subject, revealing form and substance against a dark relief. Remember the magic of catching fireflies as a child? After snatching our shimmering captives, we held these glowing wonders in our hands. We too, as artists, seek to capture the light upon the surface of our work, inviting others to bask in its luminous grace.

Capturing the light falling on a subject is a challenge that artists have sought out for centuries. In order to convey the mood and atmosphere of light in the medium of pastel, we must learn how color communicates light’s temperature, and select our pigments accordingly. Generally speaking, warm colors convey the presence of light, much like the rays of the sun. Warm passages of light tend to cause shadow areas to be cooler. Looking at the color wheel, we can split it in half between warm and cool colors. Warm colors advance, while cool colors recede.

Cool Colors | Warm Colors

As you set out to capture the light falling upon the landscape, be aware that the temperature of the light shining upon the scene will affect the color of the entire scene. Think of it as peering through rose-tinted glasses: suddenly the world is bathed in wonderful shades of pink. In a similar fashion, warm late-afternoon light creates scenes filled with gold, pink and red. These colors are found next to each other on the color wheel, creating what is called an analogous color scheme. Analogous colors create a moody and atmospheric quality because of their color harmony. When selecting pastels that will capture the light of the scene, it’s very important to locate these colors on the color wheel in accordance with the temperature of the light.

Warm analogous color scheme, by Alain Picard

Coral Grove (pastel, 12×16) is an example of a warm analogous palette. Click here to “pin” this article to your art board on Pinterest.

Let me share two examples of analogous color schemes with you. The first is Coral Grove (above), painted in a very warm palette of reds, oranges and yellows. I painted this scene during the instructional video, “Capturing Light and Color–Landscape in Pastel.” As you can see from the palette, these colors are found close to each other on the color wheel, giving that wonderful feeling of harmony to the light.

Cool analogous color scheme, by Alain Picard

Sunlit Repose (pastel, 22×16) is an example of a cool analogous palette.

The second example is Sunlit Repose, which is painted in a cool palette of alizarin, violet and blue. I created this painting for the video, “Painting the Figure in Pastel.” The cool lighting is the result of indirect light beneath the shade of tree cover, with just a few sunlit dapples breaking through. While the dominant palette is cool, the mood and atmosphere remains strong through the use of a limited color palette. What a wonderful way to create luminous color harmony in your work!

This new year, why not make it your resolution to return to the wonder of childhood and capture the light once again. We are the firefly catchers, and the glimmering beauty around us is just waiting to be harnessed in our handiwork for all the world to see. ~A.P.

Picard has a feature article in an upcoming issue of Pastel Journal, so keep your eyes on the newsstand. And, get an Alain Picard signed print when you click here to order this exclusive kit. It includes Picard’s three new DVDs and much more.

All best,
Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor
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