Shadows in Oil Painting

Tracks XV

Today was my first day of classes, so I only had the morning to get working on the paintings today. I did, however manage to finish the last small canvas and I made significant progress on the large canvas. All of the figures are finished, and the majority of the shadows have all been sketched in. It’s a relief to be at this point in this canvas; I think I was building it up a little too much in my head and I was feeling some anxiety that I hadn’t begun the figures yet. Now everything is set up and in place and it’s just a matter of following through to completion.

This last canvas has also presented some challenges in terms of the shadows that I was unprepared for. In the previous canvasses, all of the shadows were very thin, bold and tight. This final canvas had a very different lighting situation which resulted in shadows which were not straight and actually were quite soft and atmospheric in terms of their shape. I wrestled with whether I wanted to apply the neatness of the straight shadows to these new ones, and it just didn’t feel right. So instead I opted to execute these new shadows exclusively with a dry brush to build up the softness of the edges and give them more of a texture than in the previous paintings. I was quite concerned after I painted 1 shadow that this approach was a huge mistake, but by the time I sketched in shadows for 3 figures, I realized that the other method would have been completely off for the effects I was looking for. This last canvas is an interesting piece; I think out of all the paintings it’s the one where the proportional relationship between the figures and shadows is extremely wide. The figures are smaller than in any of the other large canvasses, and the shadows are incredibly wide and take up an enormous amount of space by comparison on the canvas.

At this point for my own sake I need to get this last canvas done tomorrow. At least then I’ll be able to clear that part of my head while I have all of these other projects going on.


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