Standing before this scene, with my little sketch book in hand, I tried to see a pattern of shapes that would point the way to organizing a painting. The values and colors of all the trees were so close that it presented a rather chaotic view. I noticed there was the slightest shift in values created by the thickening veil of atmosphere as things moved into the distance. So slight as to make little difference, however…enough to put me on the trail to something visually exciting enough to make a painting.
With atmospheric perspective, of course, things become somewhat cooler, lighter and grayer as the move into the distance. I chose to exaggerate all three aspects of the effect in order to create enough contrast to design the basic shapes. First, I made a NOTAN sketch plotting my arrangement of the big relationship of light and dark masses. Next, I worked out a simple organization of light shapes, mid-value shapes and dark shapes. From this basis I try to mix color for the shapes that only belongs to the value group within which it appears, and this is the key to controlling an effect of light and color.
As subtle as atmospheric perspective may be in different scenes, it's well worth taking it into consideration when planning a painting.
©Jimmy Longacre 2014
6X12 oil on canvas panel
subjective realist landscape paintings
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