Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"High Sierra Meadow"

"High Sierra Meadow" - Oil - 11" x 14" - SOLD

"In the clear, cool air in the Sierras, the rhythm of the trees and well-traveled path made this scene an inviting subject." --- SFG


Work in progress -- Feel free to send your questions and comments.

Here's a simple landscape using the rules of perspective and value. I'll make it interesting by creating shapes that please the eye. I'm painting in my studio from a photo I took several years ago.

To begin the drawing, I started with the horizon line high on the canvas to divide the picture plane into unequal spaces. Quickly, I shaped the main trees, the mountain contours, and the curves of the path.

Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting described the four main planes in landscapes, each a different value. Normally, they are, from lightest to darkest, the sky, the ground, the mountains or hills, and the trees. For this work, I'll generally stick to these rules, but I often vary them to create drama or emphasis. At least, if you know the rule, you have a yardstick by which to check your work. See my reading list for the book.

Since the trees are usually the darkest plane because the light hitting them from above is the most indirect, I made sure they were darkest and varied in shape and size. The distant tree masses against the peaks are cooled and lightened, because the light from them passes through more air and the color is effected by that aireal perspective.

Here, I've described the mountains, sky, snow, and path. The snow and the pathway are exceptions to the values rules, as they often are. Buildings can be, too. Once the canvas is covered, the middle stage of the painting is a matter of correcting color and value. This should get the most attention.

In the finished painting, I lightened the mountains a bit but didn't jump from the proper value relationship. Where the air is more moisture and particle laden, the mountains would be lighter, but the clear air at the altitude of this scene tends to reduce, but not eliminate, the effect. Last, I added the calligraphy that describes the brush and the path-side banks.

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