A Broken Windscreen and a Studio

Just a warning before we continue. This post is a bit personal so if you don’t want sappy stories then I urge you to skip this blog post.

 

I didn’t run as studio in the past. As a matter of fact, I was like the majority of people in the world. A peon. A simple person who was just a cog in the wheel doing his stuff to pitch in. I couldn’t tell if I was happy or not. If you asked me then, I would have just given you a blank expression.

See, I went to work everyday without as much as a whimper. I would never come in late and I would always welcome tasks being handed down to me. For a lot of people this was obviously me telling the world that I am happy with my job.

But I never wanted to move. I never felt the motivation to move. I was just there, working. No dreams of getting a promotion or going for another job. For me, at that time, it paid the bills and that was good enough for me.

Well, up until one fateful day.

See, I have been driving my car for over 5 years then. It was an older car I bought from a friend of a friend. For a 10+ year old car, it didn’t really give me any headaches. It would take me to work when I needed him to and he would be waiting for my at the parking lot when I was done. He was there for me.

One day, while driving, from out of nowhere came a rock as big as my fists. At that time I didn’t know where it came from but it shattered my windscreen. Big deal. Windscreens can be replaced at http://windscreenreplacementperthwa.com.au quite easily.

When I took it to the shop, a visiting mechanic who was a friend of the windscreen guy checked my car. It was then I realized that it was more than just a windscreen replacement. One by one, the mechanic pointed out the problems in my car. He said that getting it all repaired will cost me a lot of money. When I asked him how long til the problem gets the better of my car, he said a few months.

Then it hit me.

I was my car. I was broken inside but nobody really knows. Not even me. That mechanic me telling me about my car’s problem was my broken windscreen moment.

I knew what I had to do. I quit my job and went on pursuing what I wanted – to paint.

Today, I manage a studio where I also display my work. That day stuck to me like pasta on Pasta day.

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The Importance of Lighting

In art, just how important is lighting?

 

Well, let’s first talk about the practical stuff. If you can’t see your subject, you’re not going to be able to make a good impression of it. Humans are visual creatures by nature, so a lot of our art is also focused on visual elements.

 

Going beyond that, lighting is arguably one of the most important parts of any art piece. From paintings to sketches, light – and the shadows it casts – plays a huge role. Light is everywhere around us, a crucial part of what we see, and can even affect us emotionally.

 

Light is how we connect to the world. If a painting has no lighting, it doesn’t feel right. Something in our brains doesn’t click, and it fails to capture our imaginations, stir our reactions.

 

The use of light can help emphasise things, such as contours or curves. Shadow can also add depth, add the illusion of something being three-dimensional. In sculpture, this is less important. For paintings and other two-dimensional pieces, the illusion is critical.

 

Of course, some styles don’t consider the depth and the illusion to be significant. However, for most artists, placing a light highlight in the wrong place or getting a shadow wrong can leave a piece confusing. Viewers may not necessarily know why, but they can feel something is wrong.

 

As for making the light work for you, there are no rules set in stone.

 

For things like scenery or outdoors, you will want to go with the natural lighting. Use your memory to capture as much of the details as you can, if you’re slow to capture things on canvas.

 

For indoor scenes or if you’re working with the option to adjust the lighting, that requires a bit more thought. You have to think about not only the mood you want to convey and how the light helps with that, but also how you capture that mood on the canvas.

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Light, Shadow, and Chiaroscuro

Light and shadow are an important part of art. Yes, there are some styles where this is ignored. For example, Chinese ink painting has no room for light and shadow, focusing more on subtle variations of the color black. Japanese woodblock prints favor contrasts of color over the depth shadow gives.

However, the interplay of light and shadow, on what is hidden or exposed by the balance of the two is of great importance to one particular style. This visual style is known as chiaroscuro and is most often associated with film noir.

Chiaroscuro first emerged back in the Renaissance. It came about due to the bold use of dark and light contrasts, affecting the “emotion” of an entire composition or work.

A dark room with lights cutting a character down the middle, light flowing through partly-opened blinds, is a common element of the style. It makes things more distinctive visually, despite being low-key. The contrast also helps mask background details that you don’t want to be made visible.

Achieving this effect in your studio is also relatively straightforward. You first need to wash the space in darkness, since it’s easier logistically than making everything bright. From there, all you need to do are add touches of light to provide the contrast.

You can use simple things like blinds, for instance. Let the light from the outside seep in, washing areas of the room with light. Observe the interplay of the two, or even adjust the contrasts to get the mood you want to achieve.

Masters of chiaroscuro manipulate the sources of light to heighten or downplay certain elements. You can choose to draw the eye to certain parts of the body by placing a strip of light there between darker tones.

This is advanced stuff, though. Just as studying light and shadow is important in the core education of any artist, mastering chiaroscuro is best left to those with experience.

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