Chiaroscuro

By Cammy Davis on

I decided on days when I have nothing new to write about because I’m painting the same painting as yesterday or have been in school all day and am brain dead, that I would research something related to art technique or marketing, etc. The idea being that I need to keep learning and….I often forget things that I have learned in the past unless I keep refreshing my memory. Such as todays research. Chiaroscuro.

I’m taking a Lighting class and in today’s reading came upon chiaroscuro as a way to describe accent lighting. Of course, I’ve heard the word before in art history classes, but was drawing a blank as to the meaning. Basically, it’s light-dark. It’s a technique used to create dramatic contrast.

In painting, you can create the effect by using glazes of umber or burnt umber (for a warmer look) melding into black or dark blue. The highlighted object should have a little bit of red, orange or yellow mixed in to warm up the color because of the cooling effect of the background. If your light source is cool, like the glow from the moon, use cool colors.

When I have time, I want to experiment with this technique. One of the things I wrote in my sketchbook recently, was that I want to focus on bringing out emotion in my painting. I like sharp contrast. I want people to feel something when they stand in front of my work, rather than just, “oh, pretty, it matches the couch”. Chiaroscuro is used to create emotion and can bring an intimacy to a painting or space.

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