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Your Art practice - Visual Elements - Shadows

I have another element to add to your visual story this week.

Something that has always fascinated me is shadows. They are so interesting, containing many subtleties within them of both value and colour.

Your first task is to go out with your camera and start capturing photos of shadows. I want you to look at not just the obvious. It is easy to look at a tree and a building and see the shadow it casts across the ground. However, I want you to look a lot closer than that. Get up close and personal. Become hyper-aware to the amazing world of shadows.

Notice how they curl across the flax leaf in the photo above. They don't need to be sharp shadows cast by bright sunlight. Gather up a whole array of different kinds of shadows.

Photograph them in both colour and black and white. Is there some quality that coloured shadows emphasize that black and white ones don’t, or vise versa?

What are the main elements to a shadow?

• Edges - are they sharp, soft, blurry

• Values - are they dark, light, mid tone?

• Colour - what colours do you see in the shadows?

• How many colours can you identify?

• Can you find abstract elements within the shadows.

Try to look at the shadows in a different way, as if they are the most important element in

the composition.

Crop your pictures so the shadows become interesting subjects in and of themselves, regardless of what is casting the shadow.

The other thing shadows do, is make us aware of the lights that are right next to them. The darker the shadows, the brighter the lights will be. Have you noticed, how flat the light is on an overcast or misty day. In fact, to digress for a moment, did you know that the best light to photograph your paintings is outside on an overcast day. It is often actually quite bright, and there are no strong shadows, plus the light is very even.

Enjoy your shadows!

Next Week: What motivates me to paint?

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