Achieving Realism in Oil Painting


The Visible Light and the Painting’s Light Composition

During the movement of the Medieval/Gothic era, most artists painted altarpieces and frescos. These paintings had fixed locations and they were not meant for mobility. Part of the planning the artists did, was to study the lighting at the locations. Churches tended to have dramatic lighting because of the windows located on high walls, creating theatrical lighting effect. Depending on which side their painting would be placed, they would match the light composition (direction/softness) in their painting based on the physical light available in the location (see illustration above). This makes the painting looks naturally lit by the visible light creating life like image. This lighting composition technique had been used by Flemish artists, especially Jan Van Eyck and many great artists after them.