A Painter of Light, Use Color for Dramatic Effect
Pastels, color pencils, graphite, oil paint, and acrylics — it doesn’t matter what medium you choose to draw with. What you are essentially doing whenever you draw or paint is capturing light. Everything that you see is because of light, no matter how little or how abrasive the amount of it may be. Think about it. Light illuminates everything you see in life. Everything that you draw or capture is the act of capturing that light through your own perspective.
Once you start to get into color mediums, it does seem that this idea takes you down a very long rabbit hole.
Taking on the label of “painter of light” gets a little more difficult. Using color involves a little more knowledge of light and tone than black-and-white drawings. Drawing in black and white is essentially capturing value and tone but through the monochromatic spectrum of white and black. Believe me, I put off using color for a long time because it intimidated me and seemed like quite a lot work that frankly I just wasn’t interested in at the time.
“Looking back at the progression, you could say the black-and-white studies were sort of an apprenticeship to me working with color.”
To be an effective “painter of light,” you have to have a solid background in light and dark and tone as well as value. Without this knowledge, knowing basic color schemes and color combinations and just owning a color wheel will allow you to create great work; however, learning to understand why and when to use colors will greatly impact the quality and focus of your pieces. Learning to manipulate these elements is crucial to becoming a so-called “painter of light.” There are many books out there that can go into the philosophy a lot more than I could ever go into on this page.
Colors work together in many different ways, and there are many ways to depict light using color.
Color can change the whole mood of a picture. For example, you can warm up a piece by choosing warmer tones like yellows and oranges and reds. It’s not as easy to tell the tone of a color as it is with black and white. If you have ever taken a color photo and turned it into black and white, you know what I mean. The range of black and white tones that appear in the photo may not have been so obvious as when the piece was all color. This is the wonder and challenge of color.
To be a “painter of light,” you must be an avid studier and learner of light and how it works. If you are not interested in this, then color may not be for you at this time. I know. It took me some time! Color theory and the use of color is what makes that picture look so awesome but you just can’t put your finger on it. Good use of color is very easy to recognize when you see it, even if you don’t know why. Mastering the use of color and learning how to be a “painter of light” and color is a long but rewarding process.