Darks & Lights

Crossing in the Rain

In the absence of light there is nothing visible... but turn up the light a little and you will begin to see vague tonal shapes of things around you. We can categorize what we see in terms of;

  1.  Tone… its broad shapes and masses. Turn up the light again and you will see….
  2.  Form… the way tone begins to define the smaller shapes with darks and lights. Turn up the light again and you will see…
  3.  Colour… which is only visible in strong light.

The cones in our eyes will only register colour at a certain level of light, so therefore light areas in your painting are where you can apply plenty of thick pastel or paint and the colour is strong and pure, whereas dark areas in the painting are thin, neutral and indistinct in colour.


This is the way to paint efficiently….

– keep the shadows and dark areas thin, transparent and neutral,

– as a form turns into the light , add the progressively strong colour. The drawing at the beginning is a map… a guide to help you know where the masses of dark, mid-tone and light will appear on the page….

dont get caught in the details… YET.

It is the strength of the tonal pattern in your painting that gives the design quality to your work….

– a strong tonal design makes a strong painting

– a great tonal painting can be read and understood from 20 meters


The pattern of darks

First Floor, 70 Brisbane Street, Launceston, Tas. 7250

Mob: +61 0409 542 557
email: lduff@art-in-pastel.com