Summer Lighting is an oil done in plein air by Shirley Fachilla.
I’ve written about the backlit, about a Degas sort of stagelight and of course, cool, even north light, the standby of every artist. But I haven’t written a thing about one of the favorite lights for painters… dappled light.
Painters and dappled light have something of a love/hate relationship. We love that beautiful play of light and shadow which speaks to the very nature of visual reality. But we can hate it because its effects are so very hard to capture in paint. Painting dappled light in plein air is like trying to trap sunlight in a bottle. Just when you think you’ve got it, it changes. What was in shadow is in light and what was light is shadowed.
It’s an almost irresistible temptation to chase the light (a plein air painting no-no).
For a truly exquisite tour de force of dappleness, take a look at Renoir’s Ball at the Moulin de la Galette or The Swing. He not only did a masterful job of rendering dappled light, he managed to capture the feel and movement inherent in that light and shadow dance.