- Assuming that all reflections are white, leading to the exclusive use of titanium and piling it onto the areas concerned.
- Giving sharp outlines to all the reflections, resulting in the appearance of paper cut-out shapes where the reflections occur.
- Not varying the hue or tone within the reflection itself, resulting in an over-simplified version of reflections that contains featureless areas that fails to give impact.
- Painting reflections under shifting lighting conditions may cause the artist to keep altering the painting, particularly if deliberating too much over the area.
Painting reflections on a still life can be made a easier by placing the objects under a single light source, such as a room with one window. A few pale flecks might be all that is needed to suggest reflections on smooth surfaces such as china.
Reflections come in other forms as well as squares or pinpoints. Careful inspection may reveal an alien jigsaw of abstract shapes of varying hues and tones. White can in fact comprise only a small part of a reflection; violets, blues, greens and earth colours may also be seen. The outlines of reflection can vary from defined edges to no definable edges at all.
A reflection will rarely exhibit straight lines, but organic contours, some of which will stretch out. The key is to simplify and to clarify. This means viewing reflections not as a complex maze, but as simplified forms and tonal shapes, forgetting detail until last.
Art Techniques for Painting Reflections
Reflections are often paler in tone than the surrounding area and for this reason are hard to judge tonally if painting straight onto a white surface. But painting it last could risk colour contamination from a neighbouring darker colour. To overcome these difficulties, I would try the following steps.
- With a stiff brush and very thin neat oil paint, roughly sketch in the colour of the object possessing the reflection as though it had no reflection. This entails extending the hue of the object over the reflection area.
- With slightly thicker paint, render the reflections on top.
- Half close the eyes to simplify the shapes of the highlights into basic tonal areas rather than full detail. Make visual comparisons between the reflection and the surrounding area to ensure it keys in; is the reflection slightly paler, much paler, does it exhibit any hues?
- Retain objectivity by standing back from the painting. Ensure the shapes of the highlights are accurately depicted.
- Avoid fussing over the area too much or it will lose its freshness.
- If the painting does not work out, blot off surplus paint and allow to dry over a few days.
- Work over the area again, aiming for increased accuracy.