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Light And Shade

The Art Of Painting - Light And Shade - 2, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
 
 
Objects are not all composed of angles and the planes made by them, as in these examples, but the underlying principle is the same whether it is applied to curves or angles, the tones being only more suavely merged in the former case. This I have endeavoured to demonstrate in the study of a man, here reproduced.
The lightest passage, on and above the arch of the ribs, is parallel to the light ; the tone above marks the receding plane of the pectorals ; and below, the general plane of the abdomen that falls in towards the legs. The upper part of the legs advances again to the light, toning as the legs curve slightly under towards the knees, the left lower leg protruding again and offering a surface to the light, so that the waves of surface are seen as it were to undulate from the head to the foot.
The relative values of light and tone are entirely responsible for this appearance of advancing and retiring facets.
We shall see by this study also that passages furthest removed from the light centre, although they offer some planes parallel to the light, are generally lowered in tone, partly because of their greater distance from the light centre, and partly because of their local tones. The head, the feet, the knees, and the lower part of the abdomen are generally richer in colour, and therefore lower in tone, than the rest of the figure.
With but few exceptions, every figure or solid object has one predominating light passage, and it stands to reason that every other passage must be lowered in relation to it, however delicately in some instances, to enable it to predominate ; and the same applies to the tone value of shadows.
It is the realisation of the delicate differences of tone throughout the object painted, or throughout a picture containing many objects, that constitutes, in respect of light and shade, what is known as "breadth" — that is; au fond, that every part takes its right relative position, and its proper subordination to the main light or object lighted.


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