Wild But True: I Want to Paint Light

13 Nov 2011

Lee's Ranch - Sunny Day by Camille Przewodek, 9 x 12, oil on canvas.
Lee's Ranch - Sunny Day by Camille Przewodek, 9 x 12, oil on canvas.
Even now it sounds like a beautiful, incredible, impossible thing to accomplish. I mean, paint light? It seemed like magic to me at first. And I didn't understand what it all entailed. That changed after I heard Camille Przewodek discuss her career and approach to painting at the 2010 Weekend with the Masters.

Przewodek is a plein air painter and was a student of Henry Hensche, who in turn was an assistant to the American Impressionist Charles Hawthorne. As an artist, Przewodek's main focus is painting the effects of light in nature through color relationships—using color and not tone to capture the effect of light in the landscape and in the studio. When I heard that, it made such an immediate impression on me that I was suddenly able to envision how light effects everything it touches—through color.

The Green Vase by Camille Przewodek, 12 x 16, oil on canvas.
The Green Vase by Camille Przewodek,
12 x 16, oil on canvas.

Hawthorne, and by extension Przewodek, believed in the importance of color masses—that if you get the color notes in accurate relationships to one another, everything else in a painting will fall into place from there. In practice, Przewodek teaches that an oil painting's success is based on how well it shows form through color changes, which means, at its most essential, using six basic colors—a warm and cool version of each primary color—and mixing them correctly. From there, secondary colors come into play.

I've gained even more insight from Przewodek's new DVD, Painting Light: The Cape School Method, which references the seminal academy founded by Hawthorne in Provincetown, Massachusetts almost a century ago. Przewodek discusses how to build a palette that can be used to capture all the effects of light, whether you are indoors or out; how using color comparisons in block studies pays off in a heightened ability to see color; and what colors are in shadows and in light. My eyes were opened a bit wider after Painting Light, and I wish that kind of illumination (I couldn't resist) on all of you, too. Enjoy!

 


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