|Fifty by Mitchell Albala, 2006, oil painting on canvas. In this
painting, the artist strongly distinguishes the land and sky to
give a sense of vertical distance.
This summer I've been traveling a bit, but of course it's never as much as I would like. When I have gotten to the beach or camped out over a long weekend, I've noticed that trying to create the illusion of space—over valley peaks or a body of water—in a landscape painting can be difficult! The distance over water is sometimes deceptive and the atmospheric effects of air, light, and cloud cover in a valley can really distort what I see.
Yes, you can solve some of these problems with a sound knowledge of perspective. That is key for any sense of proportion in landscape artwork. But you can also get a good sense of the space from where you stand to the object in the distance a few other ways.
Reducing and massing together the forms, textures, colors, and details you see in the distance helps make for a less fussy work, and effectively recreates the way the eye sees.
Use scale to your advantage. This is a tried-and-true visual cue for artist and viewer alike. I know it seems elementary, but it bears repeating: the larger the object, the closer we think it is to us.
|Pinnacle Peak, Last Light by Mitchell Albala, 2010,
oil painting on canvas. The vastness of this mountain
view is made by the overlapping of the trees in the
foreground and the elimination of detail throughout
the work. It is if we are seeing it from a great distance.
A well-defined fore-, middle-, and background are also really crucial when painting water or vast stretches of an object that is fairly uniform. It might be that the texture you see in each of these areas changes with the distance implied. But it could also be color or painting light effects as they rest on different forms. It all depends on how you want to breakup the space.
I got all these landscape painting tips from just one section in Mitchell Albala's book, Landscape Painting. I found it to be readable, with plenty of great visual examples, and from an author who is foremost an artist-so I know his advice is in keeping with where I want to go with my own work. I hope it is the same with you. Enjoy!
And where have you been this summer? What challenges and triumphs have you encountered with your painting and drawing? Leave a comment and let me know!