Dynamic Observation
By Ed Bertolet


What on earth is dynamic observation? I have coined that phrase to get your attention and to remind you that the way you see your subject is dependent on the way you choose to look at it. You have no doubt seen the same subject painted in vastly different ways by two painters — one painting is alive and vibrant while the other painting is static and dead. Same subject but different ways of observing it!

The fundamental fact remains that painting is all about depicting LIGHT. Look at any of the paintings you admire and you will see I am right.

If there were no light, you would see nothing. The things we see are only visible because of the way they interact with, and respond to, light. Painting is at its core about capturing the impressions and illusions of light. That is one reason you’ve often heard the phrase “value is king”.

I want you to see light in a new light (couldn’t resist the pun!). As suggested by the title of this blog, the word dynamic is the key word. I want you to see light as a fluid thing! Something that is alive and moving. It bends, flares, bounces around and suffuses things in front of us. I want you to start imagining light in this manner — something alive and moving. Flaring as it comes through a small hole, jumping where a highlight glints, glowing as it fills a translucent cloud, ricocheting like bullet off a reflection!

If you begin to consider light in this manner, it will seem alive and your response to this life will animate your work. You will begin to see things you hadn’t noticed before — reflected tones, halos and diffusion, crisp edges and lost edges — all by thinking of light as a dynamic, fluid thing. If I can persuade you to look at light in a new way, you will find your enhanced ability to see it, and paint it, will improve your work.

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Comment by ELISA ARANCIBIA on August 12, 2016 at 4:17pm

Great article, thanks for share. I will keep reading your posts , I am learning lots from this site.

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