I want to put this shape of light onto my most recent large greyscale painting. This building – the Pantheon in Rome is the same building that Panini painted, and I am fascinated by this hole in the ceiling and the effect it can have.
Before I go straight in and paint on the canvas, I want to do some digital mock ups, to wrap my head around how this column of light would sit in the abstract landscape.
To do this I photographed the painting and used Affinity photo to edit some transparent layers into the painting, very similar to how I would with paint and glazing.
Firstly I drew a cone shape for the stream of light.
Then I erased the bottom of the stream of light gradually so that it would look as if the light got dimmer as it got further from the source.
This is what the light does in the photos of the Pantheon, but in this painting which I keep referring back to:
The light is unnaturally bright. I need to see how the realistic, softer light will affect the painting, and whether this more alien and intense kind of light will look better, more intense and sculptural perhaps?
This is the first mock up. I layered a pale yellow on top of the white, like in the painting Oratio Obliqua. The yellowness has a kind of eeriness to it which I think is interesting. I erased the light cone around some brush marks to place the light in the landscape.
Looking at this mock up image, the light looks kind of alien! It’s a little jarring that the source of light doesn’t fit with any form of the abstract brushstrokes. I considered this and edited an image where the light is streaming in from gaps in brush marks at the top of the painting:
This looks even more alien to me! It reminds me of the medieval model C.S. Lewis text I was reading, The Discarded Image. All about the way the universe is ordered. It’s as if these streams of light are streaming down from some heavens above.
When the light streams in from gaps in the brush marks, any reference to the architectural structure is lost. The painted landscape becomes centre of attention, and the landscape looks really holy to me.
When the light comes from a source unseen in the painting, it is suggested that there is another sort of structure in the painting that has not been marked out. I think this works better. It has more depth. And seems less shallow as a painting.
Doing these mockups prompted me to think about how the light would fall on the brushstrokes in the painting. I realise I don’t understand how the brushstrokes would be hit by the light: would they leave shadows etc? So I am building a 3D model of brushstrokes and shining a light through my sculpture structure from last term to understand it better.
Writing this up now I realise one issue with the mockups: the brushstrokes are either behind or in front of the light, due to how I have handled the transparency; either behind or in front.
I realise now that the brushstrokes would have a scale of transparency glazed onto them, to make it look like they are in the light. Like this:
This looks SO much better!! It’s amazing that that small change can make such a difference to the effect. This is making me excited to paint it now!
Next thing is finish the model. I think that will really help with figuring out if I need to add in shadows to the brushstrokes.