Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Contrast and Consistency

“Mt. Shasta Afternoon”

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Contrast and Consistency
Atmospheric Perspective

As summer days lengthen, we have many hot days and warm nights at The Grand View Ranch in Mt Shasta, and my focus turns to the stunning effects of light on the mountain. Mt Shasta is one of the seven most spiritual places in the world, and her volcanic peak can be seen hundreds of miles away in many directions in Northern California. Every year, thousands of people and artists visit Mt Shasta to heal, be inspired, to camp, and to paint.

Just painting her majestic slops and grand cliffs is difficult for any artist, but capturing the effect of sun light on the mountain that creates a sense of the time of day is almost an over-whelming challenge. By using a few artistic principles such as color mixing to make warm, bright light to contrast with cool, dark shadows, and including Atmospheric Perspective (that results when the moisture and particulate matter in the atmosphere makes distant objects look softer, cooler, and lighter), success can be just a painting away!

In this painting, Mt. Shasta Afternoon, I wanted to create the late afternoon light just as the sun disappears on the horizon. Because light changes quickly, I took several minutes to memorize the scene so that I could remember where the areas of light and dark, warm and cool, and the brightest focal points are located. Then I quickly painted in the basic shapes and values with contrasting light and dark areas.

To create a sense of warm light on the mountain, I painted the areas illuminated by sunlight with warmer colors and lighter tonal values. Using warm colors like yellow and red gives the effect of warmth to any painting, and by lightening up the value by adding white to the yellow or red, the effect of light will appear even brighter. I made the effect to be even greater in the center of the painting (the central focal point) by emphasizing the middle rock in the foreground. I did this by making the contrast even stronger and warmer by applying almost pure white with a little yellow added in to paint the atmosphere silhouetting the rock.

Next, I wanted to add even more contrast in the foreground by using darkened values of brown, green, and cooler colors for a more dramatic statement against the lighted areas. Notice how the warm light comes from the upper left and is consistent on the background hillsides and the mid- ground trees. The areas that are not in light are cooler, darker, and less intense.
If you want to create a strong sense of the time of day in your painting, be consistent with your treatment of the contrast between the light and shadow areas throughout your painting. In addition, by contrasting the foreground areas (with their sharp detail, strong value, and temperature differences) with the distant objects (that have less detail, cooler colors, and softer contrast,) you can successfully intensify the sense of depth and realism in your landscape paintings.

If you are interested in experiencing a breakthrough weekend that will take your art to the next level, visit our new website at http://www.thegrandview.com You can download my FREE BOOK where I share “Everything I know About Painting.” At my website

I hope that we can build a community of artists that can share information with each other.If you know of any artists that might appreciate being included, let them know about this blog.
I hope to offer more painting tips as this conversation continues.

If you have questions that you can email me anytime Stefan_Baumann@yahoo.com, please don’t hesitate to email me anytime. I welcome your feedback


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoy getting your newsletter and have down loaded your book - thanks and have really enjoy and learned from it. Like the depth and contrast you have in this painting. I live in Kansas and even the tall trees are impressive. Will continue to read, observe and hopefully learn. Peace and joy GW

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because I live on the other side of the country from you, I am unable to attend your classes and workshops. These lessons are priceless.

7:27 AM  
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