The simplicity of landscape paintings
Dec 03, 2017
Landscapes are an important part of not only paintings but of all media in the arts. As an artist I think it is important to learn and to understand the fundamentals of a good landscape painting or photograph. Even if you paint portraits, there is a lot to learn from painting landscapes.
The main goal of a landscape painting, like every piece of art really, is to captivate the audience as long as possible. This is achieved by a mix of building layers and to implement important details. Layers are one fundamental part of any landscape painting because it can create depth. It is always challenging to create a feeling of depth, three-dimensionality, in a two dimensional medium. To create depth in a painting is to show overlay. This is achieved by displaying forms which are easily understandable by the audience -- like trees, hills and buildings and to break their silhouette with elements which are positioned in front of the form. In simple words: one way to achieve depth is to show some layers like hills or houses in front of each other.
If you look in the distance you will see that colours get lighter and change in contrast. This is caused by the atmosphere which is absorbing different wave length of light differently. It is a good way to show depth in choosing lighter colours with less contrast the further you get in your painting. This gets more powerful when you choose darker colours with more contrast in the foreground. But why does it get more powerful? Because the human eye is drawn to light. The audience will unconsciously try to look over the dark parts of the image and into the lighter “far away” parts of the image. This invokes a strong feeling of depth.
With contrast comes along details. As it is not possible to paint every details, such as leaf on a tree and every rock on the ground, one must choose to emphasize some important details. Details are more obvious if you show them selectively. Because of the gradient of light and pale to dark with a lot of contrast we send the audience back in the distance. With details, we are able to direct the audience to the foreground and if we combine the details with the lighter colours properly the eye of the audience will slowly wander in the background and send the feeling of depth.
Depth is not something an artist can achieve with just details. The artist must use a mix of many aspects. Of course there are more ways to show depth and to make an image more interesting but these are in my opinion the most powerful and easiest points to implement in an art work.