Dawn, Day, Dusk, Darkness

5 Jul 2012

Plein air artists are the first to tell you that you can go back to the same site over and over again during different times of day and it is like being in a whole other place. Light does that! It can turn a bright and sunny scene into a murky and mysterious place when it is taken away.

Dean Mitchell is especially skillful at creating a sense of daylight. His colors are muted for the most part, which allows his whites to seem very crisp, although they will veer from the more chilly whites of winter mornings to the white heat of a hot summer day.

Southern Tobacco Barn by Dean Mitchell, watercolor painting, 15 x 9.
Southern Tobacco Barn by Dean Mitchell,
watercolor painting, 15 x 9.

When I think of Christopher St. Leger's work, it's his lustrous haze of color that stands out. It's almost like when all the heat and atmosphere of a day hovers right above the horizon and you seem to see everything through a prism. But that assessment is a bit deceiving because St. Leger has, in fact, a strong sense of bright white highlights in his work as well.

Anbar Drag by Christopher St. Leger, watercolor painting.
Anbar Drag by Christopher St. Leger, watercolor painting.

Susannah Hart Thomer is at her best during those times of day when the lights and darks are at their most extreme. But while they are extreme, her lights and darks are not stark. Instead, they are juicy, burgeoning with color and depth. I love that her darks have hints of red and purple; her lights tinges of green and orange.  

Early Riser by Susannah Hart Thomer, watercolor painting.
Early Riser by Susannah Hart Thomer, watercolor painting.

With a Watercolor magazine subscription, you can delve more deeply into the watercolor painting techniques that lead to expressive and energized paintings of any time of the day you'd like. In every issue there are articles that are relevant to what you want to do in your own practice--from turning an on-site plein air painting into a large-scale studio work to understanding the power of complements. And that's just what I gleaned in my first pass of the latest Summer issue. It is sure to be the same for you. Enjoy your subscription!  

P.S. What's your favorite time of day to paint? Leave a comment and let us know!


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adkpainter wrote
on 6 Jul 2012 2:07 PM

I love painting in the late afternoon...from around 3 to 7 p.m, Here in the Adirondacks, the light starts to warm up and the shadows grow long across the ground. The contrast of lights and darks, warm and cool tones, are then emphasized.

annachacko wrote
on 6 Jul 2012 4:02 PM

I love to paint just before dawn.   The house is quiet.   We have a lovely home in Montana with great views from every room.   I have a  kitchen desk which looks out over the Highlands.   In addition to my painting paraphernalia, I also have a radio-CD player.   I often play Jay Ungar's music.   My favorite is his composition called the Ashokan farewell.   It must release something in my brain, I feel liberated, free and impelled to paint.   Anna Chacko MD

Ginnie Derk wrote
on 7 Jul 2012 5:55 AM

I painted at night after the sun went down. My paint area was on the Florida room and it was to hot in the day time. I had good lighting and it was quiet and restfull. Now I'm in a house with central air and I paint anytime I feel like it.

                                       Gin Derk