|'Into the Sunflower Field' 5x7 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
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.
Here is what did it for me....the idea that we are putting on a show and sometimes need to exaggerate things. This idea is probably cumulative with a lot credit going to the wonderful instruction of Richard McKinley and Stan Sperlak and my first teacher, Marsha Savage. It took a lot to get this concept drilled into my brain!
To Create the Illusion of Depth in a Landscape Painting we sometimes need to Exaggerate the effects of aerial perspective
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 also added some yellow 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!