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Thursday, May 04, 2017

A Important Tip for Creating Depth in a Landscape

'A Place in the Sun'           16x20           pastel          ©Karen Margulis
available $250
 It really is quite simple. If you want to create a better illusion of depth in a landscape than you must override what you see and exaggerate the effects of atmospheric perspective.

 It was another one of those 'AHA' moments.  I love when that happens. When all  of the sudden someone says something about painting and it clicks. Sometimes it is cumulative.  You read about a painting concept and hear instructors talk about it and when it finally clicks....all of the stuff you stored away begins to make perfect sense.

It happened like that for me with the idea of creating depth in a landscape painting. I understood the principles of Aerial or Atmospheric Perspective. I could recite the list of things that happen as we view things through the layers of atmosphere. But I didn't really put it to work in my paintings as well as I could have.

Before refining the distant trees

closeup of the distant tree line

TIP: To Create the Illusion of Depth in a Landscape Painting we sometimes need to Exaggerate the effects of aerial perspective 

reference photo

Why do we need to exaggerate and what do we need to exaggerate?

To quickly review aerial perspective... the appearance of things change as they recede into space due  to the influence of the atmosphere .....colors get lighter and cooler and less intense, detail is lost, edges become softer. The more stuff ...moisture, pollution...in the atmosphere, the more pronounced the changes.
  • Sometimes these changes are obvious sometimes not. Many times our reference photos do not capture these changes.  A point and shoot camera especially tends to capture crisp detail from front to back.  The camera or print often doesn't capture the subtleties of the color and value shifts. 
  • We then need to exaggerate these effects so that our paintings have a sense of space and depth.
My reference photo (above) didn't really show the cooling and lightening of color and values. It didn't show the loss of detail. The green in the foreground looks like the same color green as in the background. I decided to push these effects and exaggerate them. I made the distant trees bluer, lighter and fuzzier. I also added some flowers and made them get smaller and duller as they went back into the picture....another way to create depth.

It is important to understand the tools we have to create depth but even more important is to understand that sometimes we need to exaggerate for a better painting!


MaryB said...

Dear Karen--This is a real "smack the forehead" post for me, too. Thanks for sharing your own 'aha' moment. Also, I am amazed at the lovely paintings you develop from such--well, I'll say it--dull photos. I mean, really. That little tree, in front of other trees just like it, was not very promising. Still, you ran with it & let your imagination create a beautiful piece! I'm going to look more closely at my own photos from now on. I appreciate your blog VERY much. Enjoy the wedding. MaryB

Beatrix said...

Dear Karen, you are great! Thank you so much for sharing.