Light is the most important thing for every artist. Light is always there, in the mountains, in the grass, in the water, out in the open, into the shadow and out of it. As a painter, you have to learn to play with light, to play with colors, and to feel its movement. That’s what makes a complete artist. To see the play of light, to take it inside you, and bring it home to fire on the canvas. — Bill Alexander
Without light there is nothing
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Genesis 1 KJV)
My father was a professional photographer. I grew up around cameras, films, stinky chemical. I experienced the worst possible thing a child could experience – a dark room.
When dad turned out the light, it was dark!
There were only two lights. The first was when the enlarger blipped on for a second or two to create the image on the photo paper. The second was the red light that dad would turn on to develop the print. Thank heaven for that red light.
Until those lights turned on, we groped around the room like lost explorers deep in an underground cave.
As soon as the lights go out, everything in your world disappears. The sofa, the dining room table, even the ottoman in front of the recliner is gone!
The significance of “light”
The fact that the very first words in the Bible introduce the concept of light and dark tells us it’s essential in our lives.
As artists, we must understand light. What we paint are the reflections of objects created by light. Yes, I said, “created.” Without light, those objects don’t exist – at least not as we see or perceive them.
If you can find a dark room anymore, try walking around in it like you do when daylight floods the room.
You bump into what?
The dining room table?
How do you know it’s dining room table? With the lights out heaven only knows what’s in that room with us. Stand in the middle of a pitch black room and what happens?
Your mind shifts into overdrive. Remember when you were a kid alone in your dark bedroom at night? Remember the monster under your bed? Remember how your covers were your only protection, so you’d pull them up over your head!
Light is both a wave and a particle. What that means is that light does different things depending on how you look at it. There are different kinds of light, too. Some we can see and some we can’t — or can we?
What we see as an object not only has different properties depending on the light source. An object looks different in direct sunlight than it does under artificial light.
What light exposes is also affected by our perception of the object we see. That’s where mood comes in. That’s what sets your painting apart from the rest.
Then you have the whole issue of pigment and medium.
We live in a world of light, but pigment is not light. As an artist, you have to adjust your paint to match what light reflects. You can’t paint what you see.
A process, not a goal
Learning never stops, and we’ll never stop helping you any way we can. If you want to learn to paint, everything you need is at Alexander Art.
We have the paint.
We have the training.
Our mission is helping you become the artist you’ve always wanted to be. Click here to learn more.