Light, shade and colour

For a short summer course this year, I decided to return to Michael Mulready to explore light, shade and colour.

This course was the 6th and last of all the courses I’ve attended so far.

For the above picture, and the following 2, I used the same drawing technique: Start from a painted solid blue base. Gradually build up the dark areas using pastels. Lighten the lighter areas with white. Repeat with more dark and light to obtain the required balance.

On the first day of the course, I was amazed that I had produced the above picture from start to finish in 2 hours. The physical picture is more vivid than comes across on the monitor: the blues and whites have stronger contrast. I thought the overall effect of the picture was quite striking compared to what I had produced so far.

This was a good start to the course, but I was even more pleased with my next drawing:

Using black, blue and some white, I was able to capture how the light fell onto the sides of the mountains, including the shadow cast by one on the other. Extra texture was given to the terrain by spared use of red and yellow. To complete the effect, additional white was applied to the surfaces to emphasize the highlights where sun might be hitting snow or rock.

Like all pictures in my blog, you can click the image to see a larger version. This one in particular can be better appreciated in its larger form.

I feel that the light and dark really bring out the solidity and depth of the mountains, and the subtle use of colour has made them beautiful. This is my favourite item that I’ve produced so far, as I’ve indicated on my about page.

The next picture was a much more gloomier affair:

This was good practice of how to handle light and shade in the sky. The resulting clouds have a nice bit of substance to them. In addition to the above picture, I produced a watercolour version in the class, but the result isn’t worth posting here.

For the next picture, we did something different. For this, we relinquished our control and let the paint do most of the work.

This was produced by applying lots of water to the surface of the paper, then holding it upright and dropping blue paint onto the top edge so that it naturally ran down the surface to give the base. Quite messy. Then the process was repeated in a slightly more controlled way with white and yellow to produce clouds and ground.

The next picture was a copy of a photo, using just chalk and charcoal to capture light and dark.

And the final picture was a copy of a colourful painting by an artist who I’ve forgotten the name of. As with previous pictures, this also used repeated application of light and dark, and colour layering. I like the colours used in this picture, but unfortunately I can’t claim responsibility for them.

So, that’s it for all the courses I’ve attended so far. In writing this blog, it has been very interesting for me to revisit all the items I’ve worked on over the last two years, all the concepts I’ve learned, and all the techniques I’ve practiced.

I already know what course I’m going to attend next. It will be different from what I’ve done so far. I’m anticipating it greatly, and will enjoy writing it up as I go along. I will post about it shortly!

If you have any comments or questions about anything I’ve posted so far, please share them.

Best wishes,


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