Monday, March 4, 2013

Painting with a North Light

Qiang Huang, a prolific painter and art instructor, will be teaching a Still Life workshop at Whidbey Island FineArt Studio in May 2013. Qiang’s paintings show remarkable accuracy under lush brush strokes. This is partly due to his focus on light distribution as well as his manipulation of values, colors, and edges.

Many years ago, Qiang watched a video with David Leffel painting Still Life. David talked about the importance of using a natural north light when painting. Wanting to have as natural north light as possible to paint by, Qiang set out to find an artificial light that would replicate natural north light.

Qiang began to experiment with lights. He discarded using a fluorescent light because it does not have a continuous spectrum light like the sun, so it does not give the color accuracy of the pigment. Instead, Qiang focused on tungsten and halogen lights. He discovered that the best solution was to use Philips’ Natural Light Plus (Par 16 Flood), 60W and add color correcting light filters.

These blue tinted transparencies are easy to use. You simply clip the filter on the reflector of your lamp. Once you do this, you have created your own north light. You can read more about creating your own north light and ordering color correcting light filters on Qiang Huang’s website.

Qiang shared with us a little more about his painting.

What is your standard palette of colors?

My Palette: Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Transparent Oxide Red (or Burnt Sienna), Ultramarine Deep, Phthalo Blue, and Titanium White. I like Rembrandt oil colors, but other brands are fine too. I use Winton as well.

What type of canvas do you use?

I like to use primed and stretched canvas. I also use canvas panels from RayMar, or loose canvas. I do not use paper backed canvas panels. They are too absorptive.

What kind of medium do you use?

Most of the time, I don't use any medium. I use paint directly out of the tube. I occasionally use Liquin if I want the painting dry faster. I use mineral spirit to wash my brushes.

Do you use retouch varnish when your paintings are dry to the touch?

Yes, I do. I use Demar retouch varnish spray a week after the painting is done. If I have the painting more than three months, I coat the painting with a permanent varnish with a soft brush.

You can view more of Qiang’s paintings on his dailypainting blog.