I keep an “Inspirations” folder on my computer desktop. As I’m browsing photo reference sites and come across landscape scenes I’d like to paint, I tuck them away in the folder. Occasionally I add inspirations from famous artists, like this lovely painting by Claude Monet:
I have no pretentions of copying a master’s work such as this, yet I do want to draw inspiration from artists like Monet. Just as I did last year with my “tonalist landscape project” throughout the month of December, I took this painting, studied it a bit, and then created my own version.
I’m learning about light and shadow now, and this particular painting exercise was an attempt to paint the sort of “diffused light” that occurs on an overcast day. This sort of light provides for a fairly narrow range of values. There are not sharp, harsh lights and shadows, but an overall softness for lack of a better word.
Light on an overcast day tends to be cooler — at least, that’s how we perceive it — so I worked primarily with cool blues and greens, then added a bit of warmth in the areas that do appear slightly shadowed. Here is my painting:
As I was painting, I believed my composition was good. I was aware that the trees and bushes on the right weren’t the same size and shape as those in Monet’s landscape, but I liked what I saw — until later when I stepped back and realized that the elements are a bit out of balance.
My weakest area — quite literally — is in painting reflections. I originally had them much darker, but then “tweaked” the painting to lighten them.
On a positive note, I do think I captured the sense of an overcast day. At the very least, I learned the qualities present in diffused lighting, and hopefully I’ll remember those important points:
- A narrow range of values
- Soft lights and shadows
- Cool light
- Warm shadows
I did enjoy taking inspiration from Monet and then painting the scene in my own personal style.