Oil paint can create wonderful effects of light and color as well as transparency and opacity. In this blog post I will share three classical style painting tips for creating interesting effects in your landscape paintings.
Landscape Painting Tip 1: Use a Reddish Toned Ground and Underpainting
In a scene with lots of greens and blues such as landscapes, 18th and 19th century artists chose complimentary colors like red ocher and burnt sienna for the ground and underpainting layers. The idea is that the underlying “reddish” colors can react with the subsequent layers of cooler greens and blues in the foliage and sky, adding “vibration” and interest to the upper layers.
In conclusion: Using reddish brown colors in the underpainting can provide “exciting color” reactions as upper layers of cooler colors such as greens react with the bottom complementary warm reddish colors.
Landscape Painting Tip 2: Keep Darks and Shadows Transparent
Applying your darks thinly and transparently helps create the illusion of depth in the shadows. This is because using white pigment to lighten colors does make the paint more opaque and cover what is underneath. Your opaque lights will stand out more and come forward compared to the transparent application in your shadows which will let light through the underlayers and create a sense of deepness within.
This is specially helpful in painting trees and creating the illusion of deep shadow within in the foliage. The leaves in light will be more opaque and stand out in relief compared to the thin and transparent application of paint in the shadows.
In conclusion: Opaque paint seems to advance towards the surface of the canvas while transparent shadow glazes create depth.
Landscape Painting Tip 3: Build up your lights and details progressively
It is a good practice to start the initial painting process of blocking in the general colors and shapes on your canvas first. The purpose of the blocking in stage is to lay down the general composition, values and create a pleasing and harmonious color scheme without having to worry about the details and highlights.
After the blocking in stage is complete, I start to progressively build up layers to give my shapes form. As I add more layers, I give my layers a “lighter value” than the previous layers. I build up these layers to create a sense of three dimensional form to my clouds, trees and other elements in my painting and I save my lightest values for last.
In conclusion: Building up the details and lights profressivley creates a better sense of form and light in your painting.
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