Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sky holes 2

OK, listen up tonight, because this is crucial. Of all the things I can tell you about drawing trees, this is one of the most important. It is also one of the least used and understood principles in landscape painting. It is called diffraction. Because the light coming through a sky hole is passing through a reduced aperture, it is less bright than the sky itself. If you like, think of the tree as "robbing" light from the sky holes.


In the image above, I have cheated the sky holes up to the value of the lightest parts of the sky. The sky holes become lights hung in the tree.This it what you get without diffraction. Below is the version with diffraction........

I have photoshopped the image so that the sky holes are darker than the sky around the tree. I stuck a square of the value I used to do that, over on the right of the tree. It is not just a little darker than the sky, it is a lot darker than the sky! If you will compare the two versions, the lower one hangs together far better than the upper one. The photograph does record some diffraction, but I have characterized it , shown that I know about it. In this instance, more diffraction works better than what the camera captured. Our job as artists is often to make things look better than the uncritical all seeing lens of the camera.


Bob Carter said...

I've known and observed this principle since reading Carlsen many years ago, but I have never seen a better illustration of the point than your photoshoped images. For those who may doubt this, seeing should be believing.

Woodward Simons said...

Stape, great illustration! Love seeing just how much darker - with the little box at the side.

BTW folks... I just got permission yesterday to do an article on Stape for American Artist's Workshop Magazine. I'm shooting for the fall 2010 issue, but that's up to the editors. I'll probably write it this summer.
Fun, Fun Fun!

billspaintingmn said...

I remember reading about "sky holes" being darker, and incorporating that info into my tree paintings.
Seeing how you handle this tree
give me confidence to continue this procedure.
Might I say, Hi Woodard!
Happy to hear you are doing an artical on Stape!
I will be looking forward to seeing, and reading this.
I know a group of artists here in
Minnesota. I tell them to "take a
listen to this guy"
We all may get neck tattoos!

Lorna said...

That solves my problem!!

CM said...

YOU ARE A BORN TEACHER as well as a darn good painter! Best example of skyhole values I have ever read or seen.
Corinne McIntyre said...

Ah HA! Look at it there. It works like a charm. Thank you.

Tom said...

That was nice and clear Stape. The photo example is great with the value square. "A picture is worth a thousand words." I am really enjoying all the tree info.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bob: Thanks. I had been planning that post for a while. It seemed like something that photoshop would do well.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Woodward Simons:
Thanks, I am looking forward to that.I hope In can think of something to say.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think you can get a group rate on neck tattoos, you know, so much a foot.Probably better deal for invertebrates.

Stapleton Kearns said...

What problem?I am ordinarily a source of problems more than a solver of them.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. If I am a teacher I must have been born that way because I have zero certification. You are studying with a high school drop out.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It REALLY does work gangbusters doesn't it? The first time I found out about diffraction and saw how it worked I was amazed.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, more to come. Then snow!

Lorna said...

Sorry ... I had been infuriated as to why my tree holes floated above the tree ... similar problem with structural plants. Read your article and the light bulb of understanding arrived. Cheers!