Jeanne Dobie: Soaking up the Sun

I?m completely mesmerized by the dazzling effects of sunlight, so creating sun-drenched watercolors is a joy for me. There?s nothing so rewarding as watching viewers enter a scene and lose themselves in the luminous world I?ve painted. In addition to the power of direct sunshine, however, a reflection of sunlight often has an equally strong quality that becomes the focus of my paintings.

I do most of my painting outdoors in the brilliant Florida Keys, and one thing I have observed is that the vast sea surrounding these tiny islands acts like a giant mirror; it reflects sunlight back onto the cottages and the foliage. This creates what I call a light bounce that alters the colors and shadows we see in these objects.
Piazza Patterns (watercolor 20×28).

When I?m painting on location, I?ve found that unique lighting effects change quickly, and this led me to my greatest painting lesson: Grab the essence of the scene first! I always start a painting with the part that I find most appealing, and that?s usually the light bounce. This way I know when I?m successful: The light bounces seem almost magically to make a painting look sunbathed.

In striving for a sunlit effect, painters tend to consider only their sunlit subjects. But shadows play an integral role in letting sunlight permeate the scene?they provide a “setting” that compliments the sun-kissed lights. Often, shadows will have a golden tint, or even a rosy red color that conveys a unique atmospheric glow.


Colors of an Island Evening (watercolor, 16×20).

To see more of Jeanne Dobie’s art, and for information on her workshops, her book, and reproductions of her art, go to www.jeannedobie.com

Carole Katchen has been a professional artist for more than 30 years. She’s written 16 books, including How to Get Started Selling Your Art and 200 Great Painting Ideas for Artists (North Light Books).

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