Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Working on the Dark Side

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.   


  1. Intéressant comme publication... Et je reste admirative devant cette dernière peinture.
    J'aime cette jeune femme au parapluie. Malgré la grisaille qui l'entoure elle semble être une belle fleur.
    Gros bisous

  2. I always love a moody, rainy scene.....nice work, Shirley...and as always instructive. Those touches of historical artist facts are a perfect complement to your thoughts and work.

  3. your comments always make me think about my work and make me realize how many things I could have considered before I started painting! This is really a lovely and moody painting

  4. Informative post, Shirley. Love the mood in your painting. Reminds me of rainy, somber days in Seattle, but the pink umbrella lifts the mood.

  5. I love the rain, and this painting intrigues me. Beautiful, love this!

  6. Shirley!
    Your works are beautiful! Magical! A joy!

  7. beautifully done, such a rainy but good feeling.

    and thank you so much for your comment, i so appreciate it.


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...