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Balancing your Whites

White balance is the only concept in the method that I feel I could understand better.

We want the palette to be in the same amount of light as the subject. That I understand.
This ensures a high level of realism when the final painting is completed. White on the palette matches white on the subject, matches white on the canvas. I know this concept borrows from photography.

Suppose you wanted to paint a subject under colored lights, for example a combination of blue and red on either side of a still life for a special effect, or a theater show under colored lights, or a rather dim gloomy still life.

How would you balance whites then without altering the subject? Wouldn't you want your palette well lit even though your still life is more dim?

What would the effect be of painting a subject that is under low or colored light? Perhaps something lit with 2700k bulb or lower for a warmer look?

Where would white balancing come in a scenario like that? You could put your white wood block in the subject, but it would be darker, or begin at a darker value than the white on the palette.

What would the effect on realism be?
Does white or the value have to equal the palette?


  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Your still life setup (or anything really) can be lit however you want.  Moonlight, refrigerator fluorescent, lightning bugs or the glow of a distant car fire.  Does not matter, you set up your subject to achieve whatever effect you want, in isolation.

    What does matter is that if you are trying to match that color, you need your palette and canvas under white light.

    Imagine shining a blue lamp on your palette.  Could you mix accurately under those conditions?  No.  With a white light over the palette, you are able to accurately mix the color you want.
  • Makes sense.
    I remember in some of the videos Mark says to equalize the light of the shadowbox and palette, and use a white painted block of wood with a 45 degree cut placed in the shadow box to check for levels of light, and then adjust the shadowbox or palette lighting to be equal,and  where the white on the color checker is the same value as the white block inside the shadowbox.
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