The Art and Science of Light and Shadow

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Offered entirely online: interactive, livestreaming classes and personalized feedback on completed work.

with Ian Jehle

From Caravaggio to Käthe Kollwitz. From the Maltese Falcon to the Matrix, light and shadow is an essential part of how artists evoke mood, drama, and poetics. To put it more simply, light and shadow is the primary way that an image can create an emotion. But what do we mean when we say “light and shadow”? Does it just mean black and white or is it something more? 

This class will explore how light and shadow actually works – in art, in film and in design. We will start with a scientific description of light and discuss how light is received through the eye and then understood and utilized by the brain. We will examine the work of artists who have put light and shadow at the center of their work, including artists Caravaggio, Seurat, Kollwitz, and filmmakers such as Orson Wells and the Wachowski siblings. We will explore different aspects and degrees of light and shade, starting with simple black and white drawings and then slowly incorporating all types of grey. We will also discuss the geometry of shadows, helping students incorporate more natural and emotionally evocative shading in their own work.


  • What is light? What is shadow?
  • Understanding black, white and grey
  • How light reveals form
  • How light creates atmosphere
  • Understanding and controlling greyscale 
  • The geometry of shadows


Our Online Workshop Format:

  • Livestreaming classes take place via online video conference (using Zoom). The instructor conducts live demos with step-by-step instruction so that you can work together in real time. You also have the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback during class time.
  • We keep class sizes small and the atmosphere is interactive and supportive.
  • Finish exercises or practice at your own pace, at home, outside of class time.
  • Receive individual feedback on your completed work and exchange comments and questions with the instructor and your fellow workshop participants in an encouraging environment.
  • Find supplemental material and watch the progress of other participants by visiting the workshop Dropbox folder in between classes.
  • Recordings from each week’s livestreaming session are available in case you miss a class or want to review a demo.



Mar 17 – Apr 21, 2021

6x Wednesday  6-8 pm CET
(6pm in Berlin, 12pm in New York, 9am in San Francisco, 5pm in London)

Cost: 190 Euros
(includes 16%VAT)

14 seats available