I told all of you to keep in mind the last painting that I created which was in the shade, both my painting and palette.
This piece was created in the full sun, on my palette and my painting. I had always been told to paint in the shade, someone instructors always used an umbrella. I’ve got an umbrella, but I find that it is always more trouble than it’s worth, at least for me. After struggling with the umbrella for years and always trying to set my gear up so that my painting was shaded, I gave up on it. I found a few times that the vantage point that I wanted to paint from would be in full sun. So, how to manage that without an umbrella.
I now paint in full sun when the need arises. But again like in the shade, my palette and my canvas need to be in the same consistent light. My first few attempts at painting in the sun created dark, limited value paintings, which is typically what I hear about. I decided there had to be a way, painting was all about comparison anyway. I went through my colors and found where they are were on the value scale. I wanted to have a color that was right in the middle. I found that yellow ocher was that color. Even though I don’t normally have it on my palette, I would put a little on my palette. That was my gage. I could easily see which colors fell into my light side and which fell into my shadow side.
Just as I normally would paint, I first block in my darks. That’s easy, my darkest area has no white in it. Then I would put a small patch of my lightest color down. Usually it is a yellow of some kind. I take care not to add too much white to lose the strength and power of the color. If I get those two colors down right, then it is comparison just like painting in the shade. By knowing where my colors are on my value scale, it helped me tremendously. At one time, I even brought some paint samples with me so that I knew how light in value and how dark in value to go.
While I was painting my shadow started to move onto the palette. I had to readjust my pochade box so that again I was in consistent sunlight with my palette and my canvas. After learning my limits with my colors, I am now able to paint in full sun. A plein air umbrella, not for me. Maybe I’ll use it next time it rains.
I do want to add here that I always use a broad brimmed hat to shield my eyes from the sun. Painting with your canvas in the sunlight isn’t something that I normally do, but sometimes it is the view that I want and it is the best alternative. Take care of your eyes and be careful with the sun.