Emerging from the Shadows | Jeffrey Smith

Acrylic Painting, Emerging From the Shadows

When thinking about what I wanted to paint today, I got the idea that it might be fun to play with lighting.

I had just taken my dog for his evening walk along the riverfront. As we walked, I was captivated by the effect of the streetlights. I watched as people emerge from the darkness as they passed under a street light and then back into the shadows as they passed. I thought it would be great to set up a still life inspired by that sort of lighting. I made use of a moody corner in my apartment and set up a favorite vase as my object emerging from the shadows.

Where to begin when working with acrylic paint

I like to work with acrylic paint in layers. For this painting, I began by placing all of the large shapes on the paper with the biggest brush possible loaded with thinned out paint.

I blocked in the vase using a large, flat brush to get the feeling of the light and the form of the vase — excluding the decoration. From there, I added the decorative blue brush strokes onto the surface of the vase, adjusting the values to match the lighting on the vase.

Emerging from the Shadows | acrylic painting, Jeffrey Smith

The advantages of working with acrylic paint

This painting felt like an excellent opportunity to emphasis the form of the vases even more and play with some glazing. This allowed me to take advantage of the fast drying nature of acrylic paint.

Having a surface that is dry very quickly allows you to go back and rework section that you might not be happy with. For example, I wasn’t getting a sense of the reflected light quite as strongly as I had hoped. I brushed on some acrylic glazing medium and thinning out some of the mixed red paint that I had been using for the shadows on the tabletop. That layer of red shifted the color and the value to more closely match what I was seeing in front of me.

I am thrilled with the result of the reflected light and how working in layers helps to describe the shape of form of the value and adds to the feeling of the vase sitting both in and out of the shadows.

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