Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Quickly Moving Sun

7/25/20 Maple Leaf neighborhood

Although I’m generally a morning person, it has not been my routine to go out sketching early in the day – until this summer. My neighborhood streets are sparsely populated most of the time, but especially early, so it’s easier to stay out of other pedestrians’ way the earlier I go out.

It has been fascinating to learn how quickly the sun’s angle changes in the early morning compared to the hours on either side of noon. It’s a no-brainer if I were to think about it, but sketching is what brings the matter to a head. For example, if I find a nice shady spot to stand in, that shade might disappear in a matter of minutes. Cast shadows on a house will be entirely different after only five or 10 minutes. The brilliant light around a tree that I was so attracted to might be gone if I spend too much time on a car. I’ve learned that if the light is what I’m interested in, I must capture that first.

One morning, the light on a row of slender bushes caught my eye (above). Other parts of the landscaping and the house interested me too, but I spent most of my time on those bushes before I lost them.

Another day, I had to walk only to the end of our block to see that the low sun was casting both intriguing shadows on the corner house and bright halos on the trees around it. As you might know by now, I tend to be more interested in landscaping than architecture, so after quickly blocking in the house, I started focusing on all the different layers of trees and other foliage. When I went back to finish the house, I got confused by my unclear marks for the shadows and the roof structure, and by then, the shadows had entirely changed. The first sketch below is the result.
7/27/20 Maple Leaf neighborhood (original)

After I got home, I looked again at the roof because something was wrong – and I realized I had forgotten to attach the front section to the rear. I tried to fix it (below), but now the shadow is wrong!
Roof corrected -- sort of.

The moral of the story: Understand important shadows and mark them clearly before moving on!

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