When I composed this set-up, it was late summer, and the Pacific Northwest was bright and sunny until it finally got dark around 9pm. Now, it is winter, and the sky is dark at 4:30 on a cloudy day, and most days are cloudy. My studio is set up to let in some northern, cool, outside light, so the weather and time of year really make a difference (more about that at the end). At my last painting session, the set-up was looking rather dark, so I decided to go back and check my reference photo. It was, indeed, significantly brighter. You can see this in the photos below, though the photos don’t quite do it justice. The first was from September, and the second yesterday.

My painting is below. (Please forgive the terrible sinking in of the paint on the orange box on the right. This happens when the new layer of paint sinks into the lower level, producing this matt, light look. I’ll correct it at my next session with a layer of glaze medium, which will bring back the vibrance and shine.) Though I haven’t worked on the blue wall in shadow very much yet, it was certainly looking pretty dark–more like the second photo. I kept checking to see if it was correct. It was–for a cloudy day in January! I’m glad that I thought to check the reference photo. All things considered, I’d rather paint what is in front of me, but in this case, I really prefer the light and bright look of the September light. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow, so hopefully, if I paint early in the day, and open my blinds a bit, I’ll be able to replicate the brighter look.

If I painted in a studio that could block out all outside light, and painted only under artificial light, this issue with seasonal differences wouldn’t be an issue. I, however, love the look of some cool, secondary outside light providing a contrast to my warm spotlight. Warm light is always dominant in my work, but if you look, you can always see this blue light.