Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Concept of Light and Shadow

Susan Sprigg

Concept of Light and Shadow


I.  The pattern of light, form and direction

1. When you paint light make it a pattern.

2. This pattern is related to form and direction.

II.  Movement and direction

1. When you paint direction your paint strokes go vertically over the object.

2. Direction is movement. Increasing light is also movement.

III.  Form

            1. When you paint light you can go across the form of the object to reveal form and not direction.

IV.  Relax and take your time.

            2. Decide if you want direction or movement or both.

3. If you choose both, how are you going to show both?

4. Is movement going to dominate form or vice-a-versa?

5. Maintain your decisions to your six questions. 

(Line, Form/Shapes, Value, Color, Temperature, Chroma.)

6. Maintain your original answer to "what are my interlocking shapes."

7. Maintain the design of your interlocking shapes.

8. Maintain the values you assigned your light shapes and your shadow shapes.

V.  Plane changes

1.  Whenever there is a plane change there is a color change.

2.  Highlights occur at the corners of a plane change.

3.  The color within the plane and its highlighting should be a different color than the plane itself.

VI.  Color

1.  A warn surface takes a cool highlight and vice-a-versa.

2.  What do we see first reds or blues?

3.  How can you use this knowledge to make one light area more important than another?

VII.  The Transition of Light to Shadow

l.  Where the light meets shadow we have:

A plane change

Color change highlight

Color change between surface and highlight

2.  Where light meets shadow look for a place to add a spot of color! This is magic!


            1.  Shadows follow a plane.

2.  Shadows might start at an angle which is directional painting then change to form painting.

3.  So if light first is direction then the shadows continue to switch to form by painting strokes across the form.

VIII.  Focal point, Foreground and Background

1.  Light is seen first then shadow.

2.  Arrange your light on your focal-point-object closest on the forrn to the audience.

3.  Think of foreground and background not as a landscape (foreground,

Midground, background, ie., foreground is the bottom of the canvas

etc. Think of light as the foreground.  Think of shadow as the

background.  So foreground is the light not the placement.


Susan Sprigg:




1.  Answer six questions.

2.  Do thumbnails show interlocking forms.

3.  The interlocking forms are only 2 categories:  light and shadow.

4.  Identify the values of light forms on your thumbnail.

5.  Identify the values of the shadow forms on your thumbnail.

6.  Stick to your decisions.

7.  Start your painting by massing in.

8.  Now paint with color.

9.  Where's the center of interest?  Light will end with the darkest dark.

l0.  Paint your dark planes first.

11.  Next paint the light planes.

l2.  Decide how you are going to stick to the 6 questions' answers and how to move light.

13.  Cool highlights are subordinate to warm highlights.



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Understanding the Nuance of Painting

    Monet was enraged when his work was called spontaneous. He fervently planned, invested his mind, drew on all his artful knowledge in each undertaking,and always challenged himself to produce outstanding pieces. He was obsessively devoted to each piece of work being conceptually perfect.... and people called it spontaneous! How dare they!
    Monet was highly laborious and fevered in concept and execution. He did not depend on accident but his own experience and knowledge of how to achieve nuance:  the sublte difference between colors, their values and temperatures that gave expression to the entire scene.

    My goal and purpose as your instructor is to give you the knowledge-then test you to make sure you understand what you need to know to create great art.  It is all about internalizing the how-to in order to conceptualyze what you imagine. You do it by planning your execution start to finish then, by following your map all the way so you can externalize your dream successfully with the  nuance you intend and your audience in awesome innocence is affected.

Susan Sprigg

Friday, January 23, 2015


     In order to decide which approach you would rather choose, it is best to get a little knowledge of both. Let's start with CENTERING which is called FORMAL DESIGN.

But first a few words from Andrew Loomas:

( New Informal Subdivision will be posted in NOT TO CENTER)

Focal point is placed high at these junctions and counter balanced with a second focal point in the opposite position below.

 When using Formal or centered  Arrangement it is best not to center the focal point. if you do your whole composition is stilled and stifled. How do you do not have your primary focal point dead center when all lines seem to direct you to that center?  Center is left less busy. So, once you are at center your eye leases for more interesting territory, that is directly up or down from center.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Form isTone is Value

Connect your values to lock your painting togetherr
    The darkest tone could be buildings or trees or wagoners in a circle.  What is important is that the tone is identified as one to make it a substantial support for the rest of the painting to come by making it a shape to be interlocked with the other values , each value being it's own puzzle piece.. This scene has been broken into 3 values plus white. The values puzzle pieces are integral to the design. Look for the line and visually project it over the value puzzle pieces to see that form and direction are separate natures of the planning process.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Some Do's and Don'ts with Examples


Be sure to mark the direction the eye follows Do not mark the outline of form that encases the path which the eye passes through. Be more direct in marking the line of your composition.

Andrew Loomas on perpective

Monday, January 12, 2015

Dandy Delights First Challenge

I thought you might enjoy another example of a submission to the first Dandy Delights Challenge via Gauguin: ( This pretending I am Gauguin... harrumph....)

Submission to Challenge #1

Painting #1 - Eugene Gauguin - Tahitian Women on the Beach

Painting one with line:

Painting #2 Eugene Gauguin -Tahitian Women

(As if I were Gauguin I might add an explanation, if I cared to, with  my submission:)

#1 In painting one I chose formal balance offset within a rectangle. The eye travels side to side through the foot that is in the centerr of the "square" marked area. I designed it to be 3 paintings in one , It can be divided in half through the center of the "square" vertically into two more asymmetrical paintings! I minimized the value in the center foot's toes to decrease attention to crossing lines. I get the eye to travel side to side , through  bosom to foot to make the two sides communicate.. see my thumbnail  superimposed over painting #1.

#2 Variation - This painting is the same formal design within an informal design. It also would be frame-able right side or left side.  (3 in 1)  This time I changed my dominant lines to sweep like a wave of water on wet sand right to left. to get you from one side to the other.

End of submission.
(More ways than one! No longer will you submit to your painting, it will submit to you and your union will be divine!)

Okay, Gang! Cool huh?  Look at all the changes between the two paintings!Increased values, decreased values, color changes to unite line (direction) Values to anchor! I wish  we could conference call to discuss what the changes accomplished as to dominant line changes! I hope this stirs you up!
Plan to enter.
Plan your painting,
Paint your plan! 

Not done yet....
Teaser coming up....

Informal Line Subdivision
Andrew Loomas on design

     Feast your eyes on this!  if you understand composition you will be able to communicate every line to any line, or group of lines and understand what you need to do before you do it! Where to put something how to correct.  With planning, the goal is to create a dialog between every element in your painting or drawing  to tell a facinating tale!!!. Composition is Einstein's  theory of relativity in Art-speak! Only, it's sensual and emotional and exquisite.
     If some of this is new to you, soon enough the information combines into a burst of creativity. Excel at this and be creating masterpieces, if you don't know how to already!  Love it all... every single stroke!  This is the Dandy Delight Adventure! You can take yourself as far as you like - and get off anytime.
     Imagine a dream and then conceptualize that dream and make it work like you never have before! But first questions 1 through 6! We are on #1" What's my line?" and  #2 ,"What's my form?"  Remember, 1-6 is enough to be a good painter! But, why stop there?

If you are not a member of  Dandy Delights of Composition and Design go to
Join. Click on groups and join DDOCD. 

What is the Function of FORM?

The second Question you ask yourself in critiquing your art is  "What  is my Form?"

        Let's look at form in some other paintings so that you can recognize it in your own art, and so you can make sure your painting excels as to its form. Plan your line and your form in thumbnails before you paint. 

 First an elementary look at what form is:

  • Form is the puzzle pieces that your painting is made up of.
  • Good form creates interlocking puzzle pieces.
  • It is the quality of the interlocking that creates good form.
  • Form is created by the grouping of elements in your painting to make up one form and then hook it to another form (group to group) to lock the painting together.
  • Good form creates the integrity of the painting.

Here is an example of the interlocking puzzle pieces of form:
Van Gogh's "Cafe Terrace at Night View"- 1888

Note the puzzle pieces of form  and how they interlock.

      In order to understand form you must be able to see and identify form and line separately - how they go together - how they are different, See line below:

      Line is the direction the eye travels. Form is the combinations of shaapes that lock the painting together .How you design line controls the direction the eye  travels through the painting. Form locks it together. How you paint each form along with stops controls the speed in which the eye travels and how much it engages within each form.

Homework exercise:

 1.   Dissect the paintings below into the forms. mark the line as it pushes through the painting. See that the path is separate from the form. For instance, one strong line enters in the midst of the foliage on the left and travels through into the purple ties of the apron. It comes out at the hardest push against the right figure. See  line below  You can print out this page and practice on top the images  if you care to. Good luck.


Paul Cezanne  Mont Sainte - Victoire

 Part 2 of this lesson gives you some harder Challenges to identify form. If you like, save your pages of homework to add in stops when we get to that more advanced concept of Composition. 

Part 2
 See how you fare with the delacroix images above and below. Print out the page 3 times for Homework #2 in part 2. First page, mark what you think the line is. Then on a separate print-out mark the form, Now go back to see the line again and re-mark the line as direction more clearly to show the best description of line on the last page. See how line is different than form.  Please post remarks so I can judge the clarity of this lesson. Please tell me how you did.

 Part 2 of this lesson gives you some harder Challenges to identify form. If you like, save your pages of homework to add in stops when we get to that more advanced concept of Composition.

Eugene Delacroix - Self Portrait - 1840
Le Morte de Sardonapale - Eugene Delacroix - 1827

Saturday, January 10, 2015


    Oddly enough, the first example I am going to use to explain symmetry in equally split fields being presented as one canvas, is to re-show you something from a prior posting on the subject "LIne for itself".

    The beauty of what follows is significant in subtlety. The way line, controlling the eye with planning - leaving nothing to happenstance -  might go totally unrecognized, This gracefully controlling line will become totally apparent in this reviewed illustration on line for the sake of line.

     This is the epitome of design presented formally while your eye is controlled by informal design.  Do you see it? Look for it...

     The entire 8 equally sized divisions make up a formal balance "canvas" of formal division while being controlled by informal line. Even if the informal line skips between boxes, the informal line purposely "hooks up" to take you box to box. Overall it is beautiful, in concept and design. This is truly 'line for itself " This elegant line is graceful and intrinsically beautiful and planned. Did you miss it the first time in the earlier pages about line. Never again will you look at line in the same way, as foriegn, as unnecessary to plan, to control. Give birth to line purposefully in your paintings, it's there anyway and can devour the success of your artwork unless you tame it with masterful planning.

     Here is another example of a formal balance presentation, which divides equally into two sides. Each side is informal line or asymmetrical. The asymmetrical line controls the eye's movement from one side to the other and back again. This painting is masterful at being 3 paintings in one presentation. The audience sees the painting on the left, the painting on the right, aand the entire painting all at once. this painting below is "Rideau Chrichon et Compotier" by post impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne (1893). It is the most expensive still life ever to be sold at auction, I believe, currently to today's date. It sold  for $60,502,500.00 on May 10,1999.

 Feast you eyes on the composition:  

Also look at this complex design of Pablo Picasso's Madre y Hijo,(Mother and Child) 1921 

There is a lot more to complex composition! But, this is a start! Remember, Start with asking, What is my line. Do your thumbnails,. I assure you, planning is what produced superior artists and their art.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Formal and Informal Composition

Formal design is symmetrical

Focal point on a square canvas is placed high.

    Above is another example of formal balance in a rectangle. There are ways of breaking rules with more rules. In an informal design it is advisable not to take line to the corners. A formal design is opposite.
    This formal design is two nearly square fields upper and lower The focal point is set high in the composition with a counter focal point set below. Divide the canvas at the most center point, disregard what is below for a moment. You will discern the focal point is her forehead, right above her eyes. Now look below in the bottom half and find the stop point  which is the crucifix  "GIVE" opens up and out, and the hands direct back in framing "give" as focal. The veil does the same  to direct your eyes back out and back in. The triangle sitting from the rim of the offering plate points you right to the focal area of the eyes and brows dead center. If you divide the canvas into two canvases, it is easy to see the focal point is set high, then counter balanced low at matching the two halves.. The formal balance has multiple focal points each subservient to the other. 

Informal Design

Informal design is asymmetrical with a whole set of different rules guiding us to understand how to make good compositions.Here is an explain the placement of asymmetrical composition  within a glance in the manner of simplest design. 

So The first question you ask yourself before you paint is WHAT IS MY LINE?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Repeating Geometric Form to Describe and Create Line.

Andrew Loomas, Ggranddaddy of Design ,- Creative Illustration
 The illustration above speaks for itself introducing us to the repetition of Geometric form. Below is a selection to be compared to Jean Kline's Painting "Glenarm Castle" use of repeated Geometric Form.  
More Andrew Loomas



Critique on "Line"

This is a critique I did of Jean Kline and her painting "Glenarm Castle". Her reference comes from Sara Finn.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Note About Andrew Loomas

A Little On Loomis...

Andrew Loomis may be from another Era but he wrote the Bible on composition and design!

      I would like to take a moment to introduce to you Andrew Loomas. He is the definitive on composition and design. His teachings are so concise that his concepts are so frequently quoted today that he can no longer be copyrighted. He is legend in architecture advertising, illustration, fine art and more. To paraphrase Loomas constitutes less. To redraw his charts for teaching purposes is less than genius when his art and mind are the definitive examples of clarity of thought and skill. Throughout this blog I will share his gift to us with you. It is such a privilege to use his art and to quote him so freely, all because Loomas has become standard in so many Creative professions around the world. 


This is the first question you ask yourself before painting! It is the first question you must answer when critiquing your art. It is the first step in planning your art and in the analysis of your work - as you progress and when you finish. Why? Because, Line is intrinsic. It is there no matter what. It is either good line or bad line.  If you don't leave it up to happenstance your line can be GOOD line everytime.  What is line?

                                                                                                    - ANDREW LOOMAS

           There are infinite solutions to composition and executing it. First conquer the basics. Line comes first because it exists whether you recognize it or not. If you don't recognize it, it is too easy to create a poor, or lessor painting. 

Line is more than outline

1. Line directs the eye over a given path. it is intrinsic. This is where we begin.

Welcome to
This is a small 8"x 10" concept painting I did before starting a larger painting. I planned everything first The photograph  was very different from my painting. And, it all started with line to control the painting. I will post this and the reference, with permission from the photographer, along with the 2nd painting when it is done,  The first thumbnails starting with line will illustrate the 6 question process I teach my students to plan their paintings. I will use this painting to review the compositional  process in order to  show you how to  plan, which will  help you develop the art of analysis and critique which will immediately and ultimately make you a better painter .

Let's Get Started!