Alzofon Art Institute
Landscape Painting: Thinking
If you do landscape painting, or any kind of painting where you need to
set objects closer and farther, these thoughts are for you. Here are some
tricks that you can use to mix and match to get spatial results.
This picture could use some improvement
All the colors in the middle ground in the left-hand picture are
the same value. I desaturated the bright, pretty colors (high chromas) out
of the left-hand picture, and what's left is a plain flat gray field, shown
on the right.
If your picture has lots of bright colors everywhere, and/or they
tend to be all the same value, you have not fully exploited the possible
range of tricks for creating position in space.
Yellow, red, and high chroma advance
If you keep in mind that yellows (especially) and reds advance, you
can add a sense of depth without especially shifting value. Just leave the
yellow content out of distant land areas (Sky and clouds, playing a role
as a light source, can go by other rules). Also note the shift in chroma.
Reducing chroma in distant areas can cause recession. Reduced chroma in
the foreground can be helpful for other reasons, not covered here. Notice
that the color version has much more spatial depth than its gray counterpart.
value changes to get some stepping back in space. This, combined with appropriate
hue and chroma changes, can achieve dramatic jumps in distance. Note --
the effect works almost as well without hue and chroma changes as seen in
the gray version at the right.
with proximity, and decrease contrast with distance.
Note -- the effect works almost as well without hue and chroma changes as
seen in the gray version at the right.
Please don't assume that lightening-with-distance is the actual solution
demonstrated here. Contrast is the operative force that creates this
Also, note the reducing scale of shapes over
Perspective dramatically changes the scale
of subject matter; an artist may change the scale of the mark to enhance
spatial relationships further.
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This page created February 14, 1998
1998 by Rebecca Alzofon. All rights