For the first experiment, I used a process that I thought made sense for the scene:
Underpainting with darker lines for edges of walls etc in thinned oil paint.
Then apply colour to everything and shadows.
Then add shadow colour (cadmium red + french ultramarine + burnt umber), thinned slightly with Liquin and buffed in with dry brush.
The end result is an overworked, dull, unrealistic representation of the scene.
It’s interesting that the more I looked at the walls to scrutinise for painting, the more the shadows and highlights revealed themselves, especially in relation to each other. What I mean by this is at first I might assume that one side of a wall is pretty dark, so I filled that in with the shadow wash accordingly. But then when I look at the wall next to it, I realise the wall I just painted is much lighter than the one next to it, and so I need to lighten the original wall to compensate.
I think these suprises came because I have never looked at shadows in such detail before, and it takes practice to train the eye to see tone etc.
For my next experiment, I realised less layers of paint is better. So I didn’t apply any off-white paint to the surface before going in with my shadows. I also thinned the shadow mix, with a higher ratio of Liquin to paint. This makes the brushstrokes more obvious (which I like, and wouldn’t be able to achieve if I thinned the paint with Turpentine) and the mix more transparent.
This corner of the room had quite a lot of colour in it, compared to the first piece. I could see cool yellows, and some blue and browns. I also didn’t worry too much about rendering detail in this test, since it is only a test to focus on shadows.
It is clear I struggled with the colours in the shadows. I made the colours too saturated, and the contrast between each plane, in colour and tone is too extreme. I realised I needed to tone down the colour to make it realistic – I have a tendency to exaggerate colour.
For this third experiment I applied what I had learnt from the last two:
I applied the shadow colour (slightly different ratios of cad.red + french ultramarine + burnt umber depending on coolness of shadow) straight onto the paper, with no underpainting. The shadow was also extremely thin, with generous amount of Liquin to a tiny bit of paint.
I like how ‘brushy’ this ratio is, it gives the flat planes texture and energy.
This was by the far the quickest test and also the most successful! Although there are some perspective issues when compared with the room I was working from, the result independent from that is very successful. It creates a sense of light and the illusion of depth.
Next I can apply this technique to larger works. The question will be do I out the underpainting for the walls of a room? Or can I apply this technique over patterns/other painting?…