4 Things You Need to Turn Paint into Reality:
the Hierarchy of Creating Illusion
The following is listed in order of importance. It is based on my experience as a painter, educator, and a lover/observer of art. It is a working document so any comments and suggestions are welcomed.
1. Accurate Drawing. I can’t tell you how many paintings I have seen destroyed by drawing mistakes. It doesn’t matter how great your ability to capture the soft likeness of skin, if the eyes aren’t proportionate you will not have a likeness. Common mistakes include but aren’t limited to bad ellipses, asymmetrical symmetrical objects, and anatomical anomalies.
2.Correct Value. The human retina has 120 million rods which detect value and 6 million cones which detect color. With a 114 million rod advantage, the human eye is significantly more sensitive to value than color. Regardless of the pallet of preference, the value structure gives the illusion of volume. The old masters clearly knew this when they established the value structures first in their grisaille underpainting.
3.Perfect Hue. So now that you have an accurate drawing and a correct value range your image probably has a tremendous amount of volume. However, now comes the kicker. Color. Color creates the illusion of light across a form and informs the viewer of the quality of that light (direct vs. indirect, natural versus artificial, incandescent vs. fluorescent vs. sunlight). Capturing the illusion of light and the color temperature brings the magic to whatever you are painting.
4.Proper Edge. It’s a beginner’s common mistake to think “sharp edges make for greater illusion.” Don’t get me wrong, a well-placed sharp edge can give great illusion. However, the sharp edge on the side of a curvilinear form (sphere, cylinder, face) will bring that edge forward in space and kill your hard worked for illusion. Edges determine placement in space, so take the time to compare edges and choose wisely.