Reflecting about the importance of shadows in painting (and in any visual experience or art form), I realized how crucial shadows have been in some of my recent beach scenes. Views of the ocean or other large bodies of water and expanses of shoreline can be fairly bare and lacking in obvious shadows. Although such scenes can serve as excellent subjects for serene, minimalist art works, including an object or objects, either natural or built on a beach or dune, creates opportunities for drama in contrast of the lights hitting the objects and the darks of shadow areas.
Particularly at the ocean here in Northeast coastal Florida, the sunlight can be very intense, casting strong, deep shadows. Here are three examples. Each of them has appeared in a previous post or two; clicking on the links will provide more information about them.
In the smallest, 6" x 12" painting, "Away from the Crowd", a bright red beach chair contrasts with the softer natural hues and draws the eye. But try to imagine the exact same scene on an overcast, misty day--or with the sun directly overhead so that the shadow would not extend out. The scene would still be nice, but some movement and interest would be lost. Further, notice the subtle dimensionality in the clouds due to the warmer, brighter light on the sunny side.
In the 12" x 16" vertical, "Dune Shadows", I was most interested in the patterns of the fence and its shadows on the rolling surface of the dune. Again, it seems that the scene would be more static and less interesting without the clear shadow design.
Finally, the 18" x 24" "Spring Breeze" demonstrates the extent to which a bright day at the ocean creates contrasting darks and lights. If the sun were straight overhead, the sand would be more monotonal; the foot bridge would be plainer, and the clouds would again be flatter-looking. Even the sky would have less color variation and less apparent depth.
Question of the day: Do you find yourself drawn to scenes with strong light and shadow contrasts or to quieter views with subtler contrast?