Yay! Illustration Friday is back in action! I reflect all the time, this post ought to be easy, right? (That's usually about the time when everything starts getting hard, isn't it?) I deleted my reflections on divorce and dating, contemplated wrinkles, thought about reposting my post about narcissism... Maybe reflecting is something I spend too much time contemplating?
In art, reflections are a funny thing, and most people get them wrong. Perhaps one of the best lessons I learning in painting class is that there should be some of every color in your painting in all of the objects you're painting. Just the idea of that opened my world to more possibilities and definitely improved my appreciation of the masters' work.
For instance, You've painted a backdrop with Alizarin Crimson in it. You paint Aunt Becky in front of it. The pinks of her cheeks should include Alizarin Crimson so she looks like she's actually living in the setting you've given her. You've painted Uncle Dave in front of something Ultramarine Blue. Uncle Dave's 5:00 shadow, or maybe the shadows in his ears, should have some Ultramarine Blue. Or, sometimes just to keep things interesting use the exact opposite color. Your mind understands oppositions.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making these days is treating the object of a painting separate from its surroundings so that object feels like it's floating on a page. Your object needs something to ground it. A shadow helps a lot. Reflecting colors from the ground will ground it more.
This painting is from the era when I was learning such things. When my painting teacher told me to put orange in the blue bowl, my jaw was tight with irritation. No way! Orange doesn't belong on a blue object, and you're just messing with my head! But there's nothing like a challenge, and I put orange everywhere. More orange than necessary to tell the truth, but it served as a good lesson. I loved learning from Mr. Larrabee.
Another thing about reflections is that they come hard or soft. The highlights on the purple ball in this painting are very white against the dark purple. That means it's a really shiny object. The reflections on the ceramic pot are more subtle because the finish of the pot wasn't as shiny. The reflections on the wooden bowl are most subtle because it wasn't shiny at all.
When you do something metallic, put your darkest blacks next to your whitest whites in the front of the object. Let those oppositions get more subtle the farther away they are from the viewer. I have a lot of fun with metallic things.