When the Light Fades and the Temperatures Drop

Still Life in the Night

Still Life in the Night


Great painting is like Bach’s music, in texture closely woven, subdued like early tapestries, no emphasis, no climaxes, no beginnings or endings, merely resumptions and transitions, a design so sustained that there is no effort in starting and every casual statement is equally great.

N. C. Wyeth’s final letter to his son Andrew, February 16, 1944

The three-day weekend has offered so many gifts to me, and so many pleasures, as I immersed myself in quality reading and took advantage of several opportunities to enter the studio.  Tonight, after the school preparations were made, I withdrew to the Cave and resumed this watercolor sketch I began early this morning.  As stated in earlier blogs, I am poring over a collection of Andrew Wyeth drybrush watercolor sketches of dim interiors, and am trying to find a way to break away from the light that has bathed my watercolor compositions for years.  I honestly do not know how to paint a dark composition, with light playing on only an object or two.  I’m finding this a very difficult adjustment, but am intrigued with what I’ve already discovered today.  D’Arches watercolor paper is so exceedingly bright and reflective, that I feel as though I am violating its properties by working over the surface with glaze after glaze of dark colors, seeking to drive away the light.

Tonight, I worked the reds and yellows into the coffee can, and now have to figure out how to deepen and darken the can, except for the small part that catches the light.  The same issues arise from the percolator, which sits in the semi-darkness, and has very little highlighting present on its surface.  I’ll be intrigued to see how this one shapes up in the days ahead.

Thanks for reading.


Tags: , , , ,

4 Responses to “When the Light Fades and the Temperatures Drop”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    Hi, again, I know what you mean not wanting to remove the light from a good paper. One of my exercises, once, was to cover a paper in graphite and use an eraser to remove the darkness bringing out only the light areas – quite the opposite of what I had always been taught before. Gave a fascinating insight on the way light plays on a surface. I am looking forward to seeing your paintings develop. Tony


    • davidtripp Says:

      You know, I have always wanted to try that. I have read of Willem de Kooning doing that in his early training, and I have met a few artists that did it, but I have yet to try it out. I need to do something to get used to this “backward” way of doing things (backward as far as my habits have always gone). I am very interested. I’ve always wondered what grade of graphite or charcoal to use to cover the page.


  2. Xraypics Says:

    Hi, again. Went to an art shop, bought a stick of graphite and went for it, I am not sure if i was even aware there were different grades. I used a very soft eraser to get the graphite off again, but could never get it quite clean – the paper always retains some slight greyness – it’s an interesting result. Tony


    • davidtripp Says:

      I am really interested in trying this out, Tony. I don’t draw enough, and have been challenging myself recently to pursue it with more vigor. This technique has always interested me, and it just might be the key in solving the problems I’m facing in this “reversal” I’m experiencing. Thanks much!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: