Dec 2, 2022

Have Christmas Fun with Light and Shadows - Painting & Drawing Tips

Have you noticed how fast it gets DARK now?? 
I know the days are shorter but . . . REALLY . . .  
And then it SNOWED!!!   The dark is gone.  
Have you noticed????

Puppy's Can teach you lots, even how Shadows work!!

It was so pretty walking in the snow at night.  I realized there was a light glow on everything.  Here on the west coast we usually have rain.  So the evenings and often days are gray, and gloomy.  I had forgotten the glow of snow on everything.  I think the rest of Canada has this secret, that we on the west coast don't share.  

Snow = glowing light = Reflective Light 

The Power of Reflective Light is amazing.  I certainly see it as I work on my Christmas snow picture.  (I am running late this year.  I have barely started painting my Christmas Picture.  I need it to make my Christmas Cards, so I already know they are going to be a bit late this year too.)  

***Special Note: There is a video version of this blog on my Youtube channel - Playing with Light & Shadows to Put Life into your Work and a FREE Downloadable Puppy Present Reference Picture so you can draw along with me.   

  But that doesn't mean you can't have Christmas Fun !. . . .

Light and Shadows play a big part in snowy pictures, actually all your paintings.  Here's what I am talking about.  

The Apple: The Story of Light and Shadows

We have all seen diagrams like this: the apple, the light source and the shadows.  

But have you ever really looked at the part Reflective Light plays? I don't just mean on the shadow patterns on the Apple but on everything around it.  When I think of Reflective Light, I see it bouncing off of everything and bringing light with it.  Sometimes it is bright, other times not.  It depends on where it is coming from. 

I imagine that crevice between the apple and the floor as a cave.  The back of the cave (crevice) is the darkest spot but as you come out to the front it gets lighter and lighter. Light is being reflected into that cave.  This happens with every crevice in your painting.  


1. Supplies: 2B pencil (5B optional for darker areas) kneaded eraser, Printed Picture of Puppy Present or your own outline drawing.  FREE Download of Puppy Present Here. 
2.  Add your own pattern to the boxes as wrapping paper. ( I used a white ribbon with a dark edge on the small box to play with its reflective light on the floor. )

3.  Draw in a line to show your Light Source. Mine is coming from the top right side (see picture above)

4.  Work on the Presents: I started with the small present and shaded it.  The front will be dark as it is in the shadow of the light but reflected light from around it keeps it from being too dark.  It will however be darker than the front of the large box as it is closer to you. 

Many Decisions to be made with Reflective Light on the Small Present

The side of the small present will be darker than the front as it is in more of a shadow area.  But again the side of the larger box will be darker, as it is further away from the light source.  Again, all are affected by the reflective light around them.  They will be darker closer to the floor as the it is the darkest area.  (Think of that crevice) 

Don't forget the glow off the lights!
This little Puppy looks ready for FUN!!

5. Now Shade in the Puppy:  This is really putting it all together.  You need to imagine the crevices formed by his ears and face.  Which will be the darkest.  Which faces the light and which doesn't.  You can see I imagined his nose protruding out enough to capture the light on one side of his face.  (A fun little challenge for me)  

6.  Try a Different Angle for the Light Source.  Take a second copy of Puppy Present and try it  backlit or having the light coming from the left side.  Which do you like best?  I felt putting the Light Source on the left side made my shadows less interesting and the shadows of the box lead the eye right out of the picture on the right side.  Do you agree? 

Have fun with my Puppy - he reminds me a lot of my own dog Max as a puppy.  Next time you paint have a look at what Reflective Light does to all of your painting.  

***Special Note: There is a video version of this blog on my Youtube channel - Playing with Light & Shadows to Put Life into your Work and a FREE Downloadable Puppy Present Reference Picture so you can draw along with me.   

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