The Lollipop Principle

Do you ever find yourself in a bind trying to explain something to somebody and just lack the words?

During some of my beginning painting classes last year I found myself lacking words to describe the concept of how light works.

Some years ago a friend of mine who had studied illustration told me about the reflected light that bounces interesting colors into the shadow of an object. Interesting indeed!

But how do you tell someone about it that has never observed this before?

The Lollipop Principle, as I call it, is when light hits a subject in a lit atmosphere and distributes the colors we see in their recognizable states- tints, tones, highlights, and saturation. See the image below and read on after that.


A lollipop in it’s sphere shape demonstrates the tones, highlights, tints, and saturation in the most simplistic way.

Observe and sketch an object. Look for these things:

  1. Where the light hits first (the highlight)- a speck of pure white light
  2. It is always darkest on the opposite side of the highlight
  3. The most saturated color is in the middle (red hue in this image above)
  4. There is reflected light on the opposite side the same color as that of the color closest to it
  5. Notice the gradation of colors
  6. Tints are whitened colors- gradate towards the light
  7. Tones are darkened colors- gradate towards the shadow (absence of light)

Below is an example of a painting I did at Blacklick Woods. You can see the values pop and pulsate from where the light hits the tree and ground.

Colorful Tree


So, how many licks did it take to get to the center of that lollipop?

Apply this principle and see your paintings create a dimensional effect that you never thought possible. 


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