"Wooded Path" is adapted from some photos I took on the extensive grounds of the Kingsley Plantation, which I have written about in several earlier posts. This historic site is nestled in an immense preserve area just north of Jacksonville, Florida. The Timucuan preserve includes salt marshes, wooded areas, and Florida prairie, as well as other land and water habitats. The 16" x 20" acrylic painting on gallery-wrap canvas shows a bend in a path as it leads deeper into the woods. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a good, true photo of this piece (don't know why that happens sometimes). The photo of the final version, seen below an earlier view and a detail of the foreground, looks misty in the mid-ground, whereas the actual painting is clear. The work-in-progress took a better photo--hope you can see some value in the improvements in the final version in spite of the poor photo.
At first, the path was too uniformly dark and mid-dark in tone, so in the work-in-progress photo above, you see that I have lightened whole areas, especially just before the bend. Then I added some shadow areas gradually, being careful not to overdo either the amount of shadow area on the path or the darkness of the tones.
Linda Blondheim, in one of her excellent workshops, helped me see that the foreground shadow of the tree trunk was too dark as it moved away from the tree. Real life shadows tend to be darkest at their "source" (right next to the object casting the shadow) and then partially fade along the length of the shadow. Actually, I knew that, but had not been successful in my attempts to vary the shadow. It never looked right. Linda advised that I pull in other path tones and colors from the sides of the shadow edge as it moved away from the tree. To my eye, that worked like a charm, much better than my earlier tries at just gradually lightening the color I used for the shadow as it extended out.
One other change, made before Linda's workshop, was to revise the curve of the path in the foreground. Although not related to shadows, I thought you might like to see that revision, too. In the earlier version, it seemed like the perspective was off, like the path sort of spilled into the viewer's lap. The detail photo shows my sketched lines for revision, which led to an improvement in the composition, I think .
Question of the day: Do you look at shadows differently after hearing about the challenges involved in painting them?