I have always been fascinated by how shadows, when used correctly, give paintings depth and dimension.

I love the initial stages when things are mapped out and values worked out. I equally love the transformative stages, where the nondescript becomes a three-dimensional object through shadow play and light. 

Light and dark bringing about something real. 

Shadows are a very important aspect of art. I try to use them effectively because they are the key to taking a painting from flat and uninteresting to extraordinary. 

They are the tools needed to create illusion. 



Understanding and controlling the shadows and the light in your painting gives you the ability to do so many things! You can add interest, mood atmosphere and even mystery. Strong, direct light creates gorgeous hard shadows. These shadows have well-defined edges and add contrast and drama.  Diffused light creates beautiful soft edges and can lend a sense of mystery and atmosphere. 

Shadows are the best tool in your toolbox to add depth and dimension, drama and the contrast needed to bring out details and even suggest movement.

Call me a drama Queen but I adore using high contrast in my art. I use it to add drama to my paintings and to create three-dimensional subjects. I like to paint with a wide tonal range with very light tones and very dark tones. Since our eyes are naturally drawn to these areas of high contrast the impact feels more dramatic.

You can see an example of how I like to use high contrast and shadows in my latest work “Queen”.  Irises have very intricate curves and intense colour. Using a wide tonal range is essential to bringing these beautiful purple beauties to life.

It is crucial not to be timid using dark shadows – go willingly to the dark side :), knowing it will elevate your art.


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