Usually I don’t do any more to a painting once I’ve signed it. But – every time lately that I walked past my easel my most recent painting was begging for a little touch of glazing.
I’ve been watching some little 5 minute videos by Richard Robinson, a New Zealand artist (you can see one here). In one, he talks about the Spotlight Effect. This is a technique of making the brightest part of a painting the focal point. As an example he shows a painting by Monet, where the artist used a glazing of alizarin crimson to darken the scenery except the distant area that was the focus. That brighter spot in the painting draws your eye from the edges into the view.
So eventually I convinced myself that I needed to darken the lower edges and sides of Winter Tree With Ducks to make the tree the focal point. I used aquamarine blue, thinned down with Turpenoid, to gently brush the color where I wanted it. The painting must be dry before you do this, and the pigment must be transparent. The paint tube will tell you whether the color is opaque, semi-transparent, or transparent. Only transparent paints will alter the shading without covering the paint underneath.
I also put some highlights into the ducks in the foreground. I felt that since this is a daytime painting, the eye would see some detail even though the camera only “saw” profiles against the white snow.
What do you think? Do you think the “spotlight effect” improves the painting or not?