Art Tip

Painting Tip for Contrast

I’m just about finished with my newest painting and I thought it would be a perfect time to share a trick that I use when I’m just about done with a new work.

If you’ve been following my social media lately, you probably know that I’ve been working on this painting of Quarry Farm and challenging myself to spending time in the studio daily.  I’m just about done and am at the point of trying to identify any problem areas that may need some extra work or a few extra details before I call it done.  

One trick that I use in this stage is to look at the painting in black and white to check the amount of contrast in the work.  In the past I’ve struggled to add bright highlights and deep shadows into my work, so contrast is something that I know I need to keep an eye on.  While it’s something that I’m aware of now while I’m working, I also like to double check myself using this trick towards the end before I call the piece done.  

When turning the painting into black and white, I take a picture of it and then turn the saturation all the way down to zero.  I would caution against using what seems like a black and white filter as it may be doing more adjustments than just the saturation and it could skew the exact aspect you’re trying to look at.  Once the photo is in black and white, I’m able to focus on how many dark and light areas there are and how they’re distributed throughout the piece.  

The amount of contrast that you use in your own work is completely up to you.  Using contrast in a piece can influence where and how the viewer’s eye moves throughout.  It can also create a certain mood, feeling, or energy while looking at the piece.  

Is this something that you’ve struggled with in your own work?  I hope this trick helps you too!

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