A Blog About Oil Painting

Painting Tip #3: Add Light to a Painting to Make it More Interesting

/ / Boat Painting Tip Plein air Sky

Darla R (plein air and studio). 9x12, oil on linen panel. 2016/17

 
Darla R is a plein air work, done on location at the Fisherman's Terminal in Seattle. I always liked the original piece, but felt that it lacked enough light to make it marketable.
 
It turns out that it was an easy problem to fix. Adding light is easy if your subject is back-lit.
 
I repainted the entire background to make it lighter and made some of the boat darker. I also reworked some of the edges on the top of the boat. Taken together these make the light look stronger and provide a gradation in value from the top of the painting to the bottom.
 
Where I had to be most careful was in selecting the right temperature for the light. It needed to look warm against the cool grays. And it also needed to be a gray, because I found by trial and error that this worked better if the effect was subtle.