Rainy Day Traffic is a 6x6 oil done by Shirley Fachilla and is much darker in tone than it may appear on your monitor!
Nope, this is not about joining the forces of evil. It’s about whether a painting would be classified as mostly dark or mostly light. Why does it matter? Actually it matters for at least a couple of very different reasons.
The first is that the darkness or lightness of a painting sets its mood.
Paintings that are light in value and color have a happy feeling. For instance, the Impressionists with their light values and colors produced a lot of joyful paintings. [See this prior post.]
But paintings that are dark rather than light tend to be moody, edgy, mysterious. Rembrandt’s Night Watch, though not really set at night, is certainly dark. It made members of Capt. Cocq's military company seem both seriously heroic and involved with great and mysterious things. By the way, it also revolutionized group portraiture which prior to Night Watch had the look of an elementary class group photo.
Secondly, putting a painting solidly in either the dark or light camp gives a painter a great compositional tool as well as an effective technique to pull a painting into a harmonious whole. An artist who often used darkness to achieve these goals was John Singer Sargent. He wrapped his subjects with darkness whether they were heiress, actress, author or child.