watercolor painting shadows

By Brenda Swenson

Types of Shadows

Cast shadows suggest the shapes of the objects that cast them and have distinct edges. The further a cast shadow is from the source, the more it is infiltrated by light; as a result,
it becomes warmer, softer, and paler. Cast shadows are darker in value than the objects on which they’re cast.

Form shadows are delicate in appearance and play an important role in making a subject appear three-dimensional. Form shadows are lighter in value than cast shadows. Because form shadows aren’t created by a blocked light source, but by turning from the light source, they also have softer or less-defined edges.

reference photo of a pumpkin in a garden
The illuminated area near an object reflects, or bounces, light into the shadows and carries color with it — this is called “reflected light.” The orange pumpkin on the left has form and cast shadows. In case you missed it, see Brenda’s free lesson on negative painting, in which she uses this reference photo.

In this art video workshop with Brenda Swenson, you’ll learn that paintings benefit from a variety of positive and negative painting. Brenda outlines the tools and materials needed for this approach before entering into a step-by-step demonstration of this process. [Learn more about negative painting with watercolor here!]

Related: Join us for Watercolor Live, a virtual art conference taking place January 24-26, 2024.


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