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Painting Light: 3 Must-See Videos

Whatever medium you prefer, capturing light in a painting can be tricky. Painting light effectively can bring a touch of life to your paintings, depicting the sparkle on snow, the reflections of windows in a cafe scene, the textures of nature.

3 creative ways for painting light
Learn 3 creative ways to depict light in your painting, like in this cafe scene by Desmond O’Hagan.

Let’s explore three creative approaches for capturing and using light in your paintings. Follow along with Brian Keeler to paint a snowy landscape flooded with warmth and subtle contrasts in “Oil Painting Techniques: Brilliant Light,” and learn techniques for painting atmospheric perspective to show depth and light. Then, explore Linda Kemp’s unique approach to painting in “Negative Painting Techniques: Light in Acrylic,” to understand brushwork, edges, color mixing, and color characteristics—and most importantly—value contrasts for a powerful end result. Finally, go bold with Desmond O’Hagan’s approach to painting luminous, light-filled scenes in “Oil Painting: Light and Color,” using simple strategies for controlling color and value. 

1. Create a Vibrant Snowy Scene

In “Oil Painting Techniques: Brilliant Light,” Brian Keeler shares his tips and techniques for developing creative compositions, using brushstrokes to describe form, painting atmospheric perspective to show depth, and more, as he demonstrates a radiant landscape painting. Watch the preview above for tips on how to use shadows to describe form, establish a wintry light, paint mid tones, and add accents and details. Then, continue watching the entire video workshop to watch the artist put all of these skills together to complete a bright, snowy landscape.

2. Go Negative for Brilliant Light

In “Negative Painting Techniques: Light in Acrylic,” Linda Kemp teaches you how to paint light in layers, using negative-painting techniques (painting the spaces around an object). You’ll learn how to take advantage of the nature of acrylic paint by working in multiple layers of transparency and opacity. Watch the preview above to learn how to paint a bright underpainting on clayboard, how to make use of blended color and brushstrokes, how to glaze acrylics using negative painting techniques, and how to use opaque paint for adding thin veils of color to add texture and interest in your painting. Then, go on to view the entire video workshop to see how Kemp creates an acrylic painting from start to finish with a focus on simplifying complex shapes and portraying dazzling light as it shines through the patterns and textures of nature.

3. It All Starts with A Shape

The richness of oil and its ability to mix precise color make it a wonderful medium for creating light-filled paintings. Preview “Oil Painting: Light and Color,” above, to get a sneak peek of Desmond O’Hagan’s working method for turning a complex scene into simple shapes by editing out unnecessary detail. Then, follow along as the artist demonstrates how to build an understanding of color temperature, how to mix paint for subtle color-vibration effects, and how to use each layer as a road map for the next as you work dark to light. Whether subtle skin tones or simple shadows, the techniques you’ll learn in this video will help you keep your colors bright and clean to create paintings that capture time and tell a story.


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