Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #22

Glow On a winter evening a few years ago, Jennifer and I attended a party recognizing and celebrating the album release of a friend’s music. The event was beautifully staged and in contrast to the cold, dark night, the warm candlelit environment they created was breathtaking and somewhat otherworldly.  As an artist, my only regret from the evening was that I couldn’t capture the effect on canvas.  From a practicality stand point, I knew I couldn’t ask the hosts to leave their house in disarray for weeks so that I could paint from life, so not to be deterred and let the inspiration slip away, I arranged to recreate the mood in the studio. During the following week, our friends who served the party agreed to model, the food and candles were gathered, and the work began. Among the most challenging aspects in capturing this festive gathering in paint were:

  1. Not burning the studio down.
  2. Establishing the lightest lights and holding the key, specifically not allowing any of the lights in her white apron to supersede the candle’s glow.
  3. Getting enough light on my canvas to see while the models remained in the darker candlelit space.
  4. Achieving a balance of color temperature throughout the canvas.  In an overwhelmingly warm light source such as candle glow, the tendency is to only paint the obvious warmth of the light.  I was again reminded that it is the introduction of the complement that accentuates the warmth and strengthens the forms.  Remember to look for the complete balance in all areas! In this case, it meant finding the cool tones in the models skin and clothes, the candles, the tablecloth, the artichokes, etc., etc….
  5.  Arranging the candles in an interesting line to create negative spaces between them that were as interesting as the candles themselves.
  6.  Creating variety in the candle flames so as not to be to repetitive in the shape, value and color.
  7. Coming up with enough jokes to keep the models smiling for days on end.
  8. Not burning the studio down.  🙂

Enjoy!!!Thanks for considering “Not Far from Home”…

book cover new web


2 responses to “Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #22

  • Candace X. Moore

    Dan, Excellent posts. Reading your advice and being able to see it so clearly demonstrated in your examples really drives home each lesson. I find it almost as valuable as a workshop. Thanks for posting.

    (PS. I have your book, and refer to it often.)

  • Susan Roux

    Amazing piece. Thanks for the insight on remembering to use a compliment to accentuate a particular mood or overall temperature. It relates to what needs tweaking up on my easel at the moment. How convenient for me. It will be a lesson not forgotten.

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