Art Tip #14    From Carol Worthey

What Time of Day and Compass Direction of Light Work Best?

Carol Worthey

Begin during the day (when you are well-rested and well-fed) by looking carefully with strong interest at some simple object. I enjoy painting either before or after noontime, so as to avoid the glare of the overhead sun. But you are free to examine which times of day you most enjoy. If you are working indoors, avoid drawing (or painting) under flourescent light, which has yellowish overtones and can tire the eyes and body. Drawing at night has the drawback of changing some of the shadow effects of light, dampening color and at times distorting perspective. So practice your drawing skills during daytime at first, please. When you gain experience, drawing objects and living things at night will be easier. When you do draw at night, notice how the light changes the colors of objects and shadows. And the mood.

By direction of light I mean: Light from a southern, northern, western or eastern direction? Most artists greatly prefer Northern sunlight and successful artists often design their studios and windows to face in that direction. Northern light has a tendency to disperse softly and radiantly with less glare and distortion. Experiment yourself. Different locales have different qualities of light. The South of France is famous for its light and has attracted great artists like Matisse. California light has a different quality than light in Maine. Who can say one is better than the other? They are different and evocative and mood-producing, each one. City light is different than country light, desert light is different than ocean or mountain light. Finding your favorite locations for drawing and painting is a way to find your way back to the home of the heart. That's one reason travel is so beneficial.

The characteristic weather of a place gives it a special quality of action, mood, color. When I was a child, my namesake Hurricane Carol came to Providence, Rhode Island. I ran from window to window drawing the huge oaks bending in supplication to the fearsome wind. Would I be so brave today? Some of the biggest oaks fell crashing, creating holes as big as rooms, their twisted roots expressing agony. I learned a lesson that day: When winds of force are upon you, it’s best to be flexible. Life lessons such as this are there when you consult nature and your own reactions and depict these in your drawings. Drawing is a way to draw your own conclusions about life!

Next: How Should I Start? What Should I Draw First?