How to portray a sunny day
Each artist and art teacher has his own pet methods for getting the
student to start painting in watercolours. There is no single method to
teach painting. Teachers have to try several methods to accomplish their
purposes during the initial stages.
When composing a sunny scene, remember that either the bright warm
areas should dominate the cool dark shadow areas or vice versa. If there
is evenly spread of light and dark, the effect of bright sunshine will
Shadows and colours
On a sunny day there's a lot of ultraviolet light around and
blue-violet light rays are often reflected in the shadows. If you really
look hard at the branches of a tree, for example, you may be surprised
to see that they have a reddish-mauve tinge.
It may sound like a contradiction, but shadows play an important role
in conveying an impression of bright sunlight.
A sunny day
Every thing the sun hits becomes warmer and more intense in colour
whereas objects in the shadow are correspondingly cool.
Adjacent warm and cool colours have the effect of intensifying each
other and this creates a luminous glow that spells sunshine.
The selection of colours in a painting is dictated by the method of
working. Colour can be realistic, following nature as closely as
possible' or it can be subjective, with the artist using colour he feels
is right at that time.
Between these two extremes exists a wide range of possibilities,
depending on the purpose of the artist. When painting a scene bathed in
bright light, many beginners often complain very strong contrasts of
light and shadow that occur.
Working outdoors, one is easily 'blinded' by the bright sunlight,
which makes it difficult to judge colours and tones accurately.
As to the problem of a sunny day, try not to paint with the sun
directly on your paper. I have done many demonstrations in the direct
sun when I would rather be in the shade.
When painting watercolours outdoor in midsummer there are obvious
difficulties. I learnt to avoid working in the middle of the day with
the hot sun directly overhead.
It was not only much cooler, before 10 or after five but the lighting
and shadows were more interesting.
Talking of shadows, with partly clouded sky the scene in alternately
going in and coming out, so wait for a period of sunlight, leave the
rest of the painting unhurried.
The big difficulty with watercolour in a hot country such as Sri
Lanka is the speed of drying, even in the shade. Observe the painting I
have done 'Sunny day'. It's a village scene with more open land.
The composition of the painting is basically good with the boutique
on the right forming a 'frame' for the scene beyond.
The huge tree behind the hut with dark tones make the sunlit areas
sparkle through contrast.
At times the composition presented by nature is not always ideal.
You must choose your viewpoint carefully and be prepared to alter the
arrangement of things, if necessary, in the interests of making more
balanced and a coherent image. Even the clouds are designed to lead the
eye down to the distant mountains.
The clouds are grouped and massed to form a strong, coherent shape. I
have introduced a bullock cart on to bring depth making a more balanced
picture. The picture is composed with a very low horizon line which
makes us feel involved in the scene as if we were actually standing and
looking up at the heaped clouds advancing.
Note now the clouds overlap each other, creating an interesting
diversity of shape and design.
Here it had captured the glare of the warm sunshine in a village.
Three main families
There are three main families of clouds namely cirrus - a thin whispy
high cloud; cumulus, a white wooly type which has a light top where the
sun catches it, with a shadow underneath, the third type is nimbus,
which is a rain cloud.
I have created a sense of atmospheric perspective in the sky which
helps to think of a vast dome stretched over the landscape rather than a
mere backdrop to it. Patches of warm blues bring the fore around sky
The sky is not a uniform blue all over. Due to the effects of
atmospheric perspective it appears brighter and warmer directly
overhead, becoming increasingly cooler and paler colour as it nears the