Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Space
A good example of positive and negative space. Painting by Teresa Bernard.

Space is a basic art element that refers to the distance between the area around and within shapes, forms, colors, and lines. Space can be positive or negative. It includes the background, foreground, and middle ground. Both positive and negative space can play essential roles in the overall success of a work of art. By understanding the difference between the two, you will:

    • Become better at designing unified compositions.
    • Be more successful in visually communicating your story.
    • Gain important clues about the meaning of an art piece.

Two types of space exist within art — positive space and negative space. Positive space is the actual objects or shapes within an artwork, and negative space is the space around and between those objects. An excellent way to demonstrate positive and negative space is by utilizing Rubin’s vase. (Refer to illustration.) As you can see, the vase occupies what would be referred to as positive space, and the space surrounding the vase is negative space. Notice how the negative space is forming silhouettes of two faces in profile.

Basic Art Element Space

Positive Space

Positive space is the area or part of the composition that an object or subject occupies. It is usually the main focus of the painting, such as a vase of flowers, fruit, or candle in a still life, a person’s face in a portrait, or an animal in a wildlife painting, or a building, trees, and hills in a landscape. When used skillfully, positive space will add interest by enhancing and balancing the negative space in a composition.

Negative Space

Negative space is that empty or open space that surrounds an object. It helps define the object, gives it some breathing room to prevent the painting from being too crowded, and significantly impacts how the art piece is perceived.

An interesting thing about negative space is that it can prompt viewers to seek out subtly hidden images within the negative space, causing your design to get more attention and be remembered while other less interesting works aren’t.

Why is negative space so important?

  1. It can add interest and is an excellent way to draw attention to your works of art. A good balance between great negative space and intrigue will cause the viewer to desire more time to look at your work of art.
  2. It can draw the viewer in, giving them a sense of inclusion because they discovered a subtle, hidden message or image in the composition. Even though it may be a simple composition, great negative space reveals there is more to the piece than first meets the eye, making it a more rewarding experience for the viewer.
  3. It gives the eye a “place to rest,” thereby adding to the subtle appeal of the composition. The equal amounts of both negative and positive are considered by many to be good design.

Questions

  1. Does a negative space have shape?
  2. In what ways is negative space important to the overall success of a composition?

Additional Information

Principles of Good Design: Space

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Space — You are here

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

More Art Lessons

Good Design Principle: An Introduction

Good Design Principle: Balance

Good Design Principle: Contrast

Good Design Principle: Emphasis

Good Design Principle: Movement

Good Design Principle: Proportion

Good Design Principle: Space

Good Design Principle: Visual Economy

Good Design Principle: Unity

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UPDATED: 07 June 2021

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Basic Art Element — Texture

basic art element texture
A study in texture. Oil painting by Teresa Bernard.

Texture is a basic element of art. Anything that has a surface has texture. Texture is the way a surface looks and feels. It is experienced in two ways — with touch (tactile) and our eyes (visually). Fine artists often use texture in the following ways:

    • Create a focal point.
    • Add interest.
    • Provide contrast.
    • Visually balance their compositions.

Texture is essential in paintings to make objects appear to be real. Even in abstract paintings, texture can enhance the viewer’s experience by suggesting certain feelings or moods regarding the artwork. Texture can also serve to organize and unify various areas of a composition.

Texture can either add to or take away from the overall effect of the composition. When it is used haphazardly or in the wrong way, it can confuse or clutter the painting. However, when used with deliberate skill, texture will bring a composition together, creating the illusion of realism and unity.

The Two Types of Texture — Tactile and Visual

Tactile texture is the real thing. It is the actual way a surface feels when it is felt or touched, such as rough, smooth, soft, hard, silky, slimy, sticky, etc. 3-D art such as sculpture and architectural structures are tactile because they can be felt. Examples of natural texture would be wood, sandpaper, canvas, rocks, glass, granite, metal, etc.

Even the brush strokes used in a painting can create a textured surface that can be felt and seen. The building up of paint on the surface of a canvas or board to make actual texture is called impasto. Painters may choose to apply their paints thickly or thinly depending on the overall effect they wish to achieve.

texture in art
Tractor Tire, a Study in Texture by Teresa Bernard

Visual texture is not actual texture. All textures you observe in photographs and paintings are visual textures. No matter how rough objects may seem to appear in a picture, the image’s surface is always going to be smooth and flat to the touch.

Artists can create the illusion of texture in their paintings by simulation or implying it through the use of various art elements such as line, shading, and color. It is created by repeating lines, dots, or other shapes to create a pattern. Varying the size, density, and orientation of these marks will produce other desired effects as well.

Common Textures

Although there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of different textures, all textures will fall under two broad categories — rough and smooth. For example:

Rough Smooth
Course Fine
Bumpy Slick
Dry Wet
Flat Wrinkled
Scaly Silky
Glossy Matte
Sandy Slimy
Hairy Bald
Hard Soft
Prickly Velvety
Sharp Dull
Sticky Slippery

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture — You are here

Basic Art Element — Value

More Art Lessons

Good Design Principle: An Introduction

Good Design Principle: Balance

Good Design Principle: Contrast

Good Design Principle: Emphasis

Good Design Principle: Movement

Good Design Principle: Proportion

Good Design Principle: Space

Good Design Principle: Visual Economy

Good Design Principle: Unity

Have a question?

If you have a question about this painting, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

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UPDATED: 29 April 2022

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Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

What is Color?

Basic Art Element — Color, Pt 1Color is a basic element of art that involves light. It is produced when light waves (wavelength) strike an object and are reflected into our eyes. Each light wave has a distinct color. Objects appear to be different colors because some wavelengths are absorbed while others are reflected or transmitted. The wavelengths that are reflected back to our eyes give us the colors we see.

Color consists of three properties:

  • Hue — The name given to a color, such as red, yellow, blue, purple, green, orange, etc.
  • Intensity (or saturation) — The purity or dullness of a color. A color’s purity is determined by whether it has been mixed with another hue and, if so, to what extent. The most vibrant colors are those right from the tube. Colors that have been combined with various hues are thought to be less intense. To reduce the intensity of a color, there are two options:
    1) Mix the color with gray.
    2) Mix the color with its complement.
  • Value — The lightness or darkness of a color. Adding white or black to a hue changes its value. A “tint” is created when white is added, while a “shade” is made when black is added.

Using color effectively in creating art involves understanding three basic areas: the color wheel, color value, and color schemes (or color harmony.)

The Color Wheel

Basic Art Element — ColorThe color wheel is a useful visual aid used by artists and interior designers to understand the relationship between colors. Sir Isaac Newton developed the color wheel in 1666 when he took the color spectrum and bent it into a circle. The color wheel is a circular chart divided into 12 sections, with each sector showing a distinct color. There are three categories of colors in it: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The term “tertiary” means third.

  • basic art element colorThe primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. These hues are equally spaced apart on the color wheel. There are only three primary colors, and they are the most basic colors on the wheel. They can only be made from natural pigments and cannot be made by mixing other hues. These three primary colors can be blended to create any other color on the color wheel.
  • secondary colors on the color wheelSecondary colors are orange, green, and purple (or violet). These colors are created by mixing equal parts of any two primary colors.
    • Red + yellow = orange
    • Yellow + blue = green
    • Blue + red = violet (purple)
  • Tertiary colors are red-purple, red-orange, blue-green, blue-purple, yellow-green, and yellow-orange. There are six tertiary colors, and they are the result of mixing equal parts of a primary color with a secondary color. The proper way to refer to tertiary colors is by listing the primary color first and then the secondary color. Tertiary colors are called by their two-word name.
    • tertiary colors on the color wheelRed + violet (purple) = red-violet (red-purple)
    • Red + orange = red-orange
    • Blue + green = blue-green
    • Blue + violet (purple) = blue-violet (blue-purple)
    • Yellow + orange = yellow-orange
    • Yellow + green = yellow-green

Color Values

Color also has value. A color’s value is a measurement that describes how light or dark it is. It is defined by the color’s proximity to white. For instance, lighter colors such as yellow will have lighter values than darker colors like navy blue.

A good way to see the difference in the values of colors is to look at the greyscale. White is the lightest value, while black is the darkest. Middle gray is the value halfway between these two extremes.

basic art element value

A color’s value can be changed by simply adding white or black to it. When you add white to a hue, you get a lighter value. “Tints” are the lighter values. When you add black to a color, the value darkens, creating a “shade” of that color. See the example below.

colorscale_value_art_element

Color Temperature

The temperature of color is how we perceive a particular color, either warm or cool. Warm colors range from red to yellow on the color wheel, whereas cool colors range from blue to green and violet. Each temperature takes up one-half of the color wheel (see images below). Somewhere in the green and violet spectrums, the temperature changes between warm and cool.

The characteristics of warm and cool colors include:

Warm Colors

    • Warm colorsare made with red, orange, or yellow, and combinations of them
    • tend to feel warm, reminding us of heat and sunshine
    • tend to advance into the foreground, i.e., come toward the viewer
    • may feel more energetic, attention-grabbing, and aggressive

Cool Colors

    • Cool colorsare made with blue, green, or violet, and combinations of them
    • tend to feel cool, reminding us of water and sky
    • tend to recede into the background, i.e., move away from the viewer
    • are more calming and soothing

Neutral Colors

Neutral colors do not appear on the color chart and are neither warm nor cool. They are called neutral because they lack color and are derived by mixing equal parts of color opposites (i.e., red + green, blue + orange, or yellow + purple), resulting in drab-looking grays.

Black and white are also considered neutral because they are neither warm nor cool and do not change color.

This lesson on “Basic Art Element — Color” continues in part 2, where color harmony is discussed.

Take The Quiz

Test your knowledge of color theory by taking this simple online test.

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1 — You are here.

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

More Art Lessons

Good Design Principle: An Introduction

Good Design Principle: Balance

Good Design Principle: Contrast

Good Design Principle: Emphasis

Good Design Principle: Movement

Good Design Principle: Proportion

Good Design Principle: Space

Good Design Principle: Visual Economy

Good Design Principle: Unity

Have a question?

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UPDATED: 25 June 2021

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Basic Art Element — Value

Basic Art Element — Value
Value is evident in this painting by Teresa Bernard.

Value is a basic element of art that refers to the gradual change of lightness or darkness of a color. It is created when a light source shines upon an object creating highlights, form shadows, and cast shadows.

Value is most evident on the grayscale, where black is represented as lowest or darkest, and white is represented as the highest or lightest value. Or, more simply said, they are the various shades of grey between white and black. Artists use them to create highlights and shadows (shading) in objects and create depth in their paintings or drawings.

basic art element value

 

Colors have value too. Changing the value of a color is as simple as adding black or white to it. Some colors, like yellow and orange, are naturally light in value.

The Benefits of Values in an Oil Painting

Successful paintings have a full range of value. This means that there are ample amounts of both light values and dark values. Paintings that possess a full range of values tend to stand out more and are more pleasing to the eye.

emphasis in artValue creates contrast and adds emphasis.

The human eye tends to be drawn to areas of high contrast. High contrast occurs when lighter elements are placed directly next to much darker ones, creating a dramatic effect. This technique is used to draw attention to specific areas of a painting that the artist wants to emphasize, thus creating a focal point. For example, a light figure on a dark background will become the center of attention, and a dark figure on a primarily white background will command the eye’s attention as well.

Value creates the illusion of depth.

shading graphicValue is an important tool to suggest roundness or depth. It helps create depth within by making an object look three-dimensional, or a landscape appear to recede into the distance. Light values make elements feel like they are further away, and dark values make them seem closer.

Value creates an opportunity to set the mood.

    • Low Key — These are paintings that exhibit mostly dark values and very few lights. Low-key paintings have very little contrast and seem to communicate a depressing, sad, or mysterious mood. Paintings with predominantly dark values often convey a sense of the nocturnal and secretive, of things hidden just beyond sight.
    • High-key — These are paintings that feature mostly light values and very few darks. There isn’t much contrast in a high-key painting. Usually, these paintings possess a light, happy mood. Female portraits are often high key as they can convey delicacy, innocence, and dreaminess.

Using both high and low key colors in a painting can create contrast which often feels dramatic or exciting.

Additional Reading

Creating Depth in Your Paintings via Atmospheric Perspective

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value — You are here

More Art Lessons

Good Design Principle: An Introduction

Good Design Principle: Balance

Good Design Principle: Contrast

Good Design Principle: Emphasis

Good Design Principle: Movement

Good Design Principle: Proportion

Good Design Principle: Space

Good Design Principle: Visual Economy

Good Design Principle: Unity

Have a question?

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Using Linear Perspective to Create Depth in Your Paintings

linear perspectiveLinear perspective is a rendering technique used by fine artists to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface. It is the most basic form of perspective in which parallel lines appear to converge in the distance at a vanishing point on the horizon line. (See illustration to the right.)

The technique is based on how the human eye perceives the world around us. Meaning objects closer to the viewer appear larger, while more distant objects appear to be getting smaller as they move away. Linear perspective comes into play when parallel lines that recede into the distance appear to get closer together as they converge at a vanishing point on the composition’s horizon line.

linear perspectiveThree basic elements must be present in a work of art to make linear perspective possible. These are a horizon line, a vanishing point, and convergence lines. If any one of these elements is missing, the illusion of depth is weak.

Horizon Line

The horizon line defines the farthest distance of the background and is the place where a central vanishing point is established. It is the level plane where the earth’s surface (or sea) and the sky appear to meet. The line at the top of mountains or buildings is not the horizon line; these objects “rest” on the horizon line.

The horizon line will ALWAYS be at eye level regardless of whether you are at ground level or standing on a mountain top. It changes as you change position. Sometimes hills, trees, and buildings, or other objects can hide it from view, but the horizon line will always be present.

Convergence Lines

Also called orthogonal lines, convergence lines are when sets of parallel lines appear to get closer together as they recede into the distance and meet at a single vanishing point. All parallel lines will eventually converge at a vanishing point. Sometimes they can even represent the edges of objects, and some objects can have more than one set of parallels lines. An example of this would be a box or cube. Depending on where it is viewed from, we can see one, two, or three sets of orthogonal lines.

Vanishing Point

The point on the horizon line where all parallel lines appear to recede and converge is called the vanishing point. It is helpful to note more than one vanishing point can be present. This is called two-point and three-point perspective. There will be two vanishing points when there are two sets of parallel lines that appear to converge. If there are three sets of parallel lines, then there will be three vanishing points. See The Rules of Perspective for more information.

Assignment

  1. Create a rendering by drawing a straight highway or railroad tracks using a horizon line, vanishing point, and convergence lines.
  2. Use linear perspective to create depth in an illustration using a row of trees, a fence line, and telephone poles running alongside a road.

Additional Reading

Using Atmospheric Perspective To Create Depth in Your Paintings

The Rules of Perspective

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Using Atmospheric Perspective To Create Depth in Your Paintings

Art Terms Used

Atmospheric perspective (also known as aerial perspective) refers to the effect the atmosphere has on the appearance of an object as it is viewed from a distance. In art, and especially painting, artists attempt to mimic this effect to create depth or distance (three dimensions) on an otherwise two-dimensional (flat) surface.

Color saturation is a color’s purity of hue; it’s intensity.

The background is that part of a painting that appears to be farthest away from the viewer.

The horizon line is where the land (or sea) and sky appear to meet. This is an optical illusion, however. It’s an imaginary line to which things recede.

The middle ground is the part of a painting that lies between the background and the foreground.

The foreground is the part of the painting that appears to be closest to the viewer.

Creating Atmospheric Perspective

Atmospheric or aerial perspective is achieved when the illusion of depth is created by depicting distant objects as paler, less detailed, and usually bluer or grayer than objects close up. Some ways this illusion can be created are by using the following techniques.

size and placement in perspectiveSize and placement — Objects appear smaller as they move further away from the viewer towards the horizon line. Larger objects tend to appear closer and smaller ones tend to recede into the background. Also, related elements placed lower to the bottom of the canvas will appear to be closer to the viewer than those placed higher on the canvas.

overlapping objects in perspectiveOverlapping objects — The easiest and fastest way to create depth on a 2-D surface is to overlap objects. Partially covering one object with another gives an appearance of depth. This can be accomplished by allowing the contour of one element to slightly cover the shape of another, so it looks like one item is physically sitting in front of another.

color saturation in perspectiveColor — As objects recede or move off into the distance, the intensity of their color becomes less saturated and shifts towards the background color, which is usually a blue-gray middle value. Even bright whites and rich blacks tend toward medium gray and will eventually disappear into the background.

    • Foreground = objects are normal intense color.
    • Middle ground = the color would b a little lighter in tone and bluer
    • Far distance, horizon line, or background = colors would be much lighter and even bluer

Contrast — As the distance between an object and the foreground increases, the contrast between the object and its background will decrease.

Tone or Value — Objects further away will appear lighter than those up close. Using a lighter tone on what’s in the distance of a landscape painting immediately gives a sense of depth.

Spacing — Objects that are clustered closer together seem farther away. Also, horizontal lines will move closer or even converge (disappear) near the horizon line.

Focus — Objects tend to lose detail as they recede into the horizon. This does mean they are out of focus or blurry.

Assignment

  1. Use atmospheric perspective to create depth in an illustration or painting of only two or more mountain ranges.
  2. Create depth in an illustration or painting of a field of sunflowers or another type of flower using “size and placement.”

Additional Reading

Using Linear Perspective to Create Perspective in Your Paintings

The Rules of Perspective

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The Importance of Varnishing Oil Paintings

varnishing oil paintings
Boat Fenders, a Study of Texture by Teresa Bernard

Now that you have acquired that beautiful oil painting, you will want to take measures to ensure that it stays that way. One important thing to do is make sure it has received several coats of artist-grade non-yellowing varnish. Varnishing oil paintings is something every artist should do before their artworks leave the studio.

Varnish is a final, transparent protective layer applied to a painting after it is finished and completely dry. It is an important first step in preserving the work of art, so it lasts for generations to come.

Why varnish an oil painting?

1. Varnish saturates the colors, making them pop. It brings out the vibrancy of the colors and gives them that just painted look and shine. In addition, varnish helps to keep those beautiful colors from fading as the years go by.

2. Varnish creates an even sheen over the entire surface of the painting. Oil paint colors dry very differently because of the different pigments that make up each color. When completely dry, some colors appear matte, some satin, and some glossy. A layer or two of varnish will even out the final appearance of the painting, giving it a consistent overall look.

3. Varnish protects the painted surface from atmospheric elements and makes the surface easier to clean. All paintings will require cleaning as time goes by; however, the varnish will reduce the frequency of those cleanings and reduce the risk of any possible damage to the painting. If the painting isn’t varnished, over time, dust, grime, dirt, grease, moisture, and pollution in the environment will change the look of the painting. These can dull the colors, causing them to crack and chip off as the years go by.

When should a painting be varnished?

An oil painting should be allowed to dry for a minimum of 6 months before applying varnish. Depending on how thick the paint is applied, it might even need as much as 12 months of drying time. It’s crucial that the oil painting is thoroughly dry before the varnish is applied; otherwise, the varnish may crack. This is because varnish dries before the oil paint does. As oil paint dries, it moves slightly, and since the varnish is already dry, it begins to crack.

If your painting has never been varnished, you will need to wait at least a year and then take it to a reputable frame shop. They may be able to varnish the painting; however, it will probably be for a fee. Or, if you know of an artist in your area who is an oil painter, they may varnish the painting for you as well.

One final solution is varnishing oil paintings yourself. However, I wouldn’t recommend this if your painting is a valuable piece of art. If you do varnish the painting yourself, be sure to use varnish designed for fine art oil paintings. And make sure to follow all instructions on the label. It is not recommended that you use varnish obtained from a hardware store as this kind is too harsh for the painting and could wind up damaging it.

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UPDATED: 06 June 2021

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Choosing the Perfect Oil Painting for Your Home or Office

Choosing the Perfect Oil Painting
The painting featured in this photo is titled “The Large White Dog” by Teresa Bernard.

Are you looking for some oil paintings to adorn the walls in your home, workspace, or corporate office? Before heading out the door to find that fabulous canvas art to accent your décor, there are a few things you will need to consider first. Here are some tips on choosing the perfect oil painting for your home or office.

5 Tips on Choosing the Perfect Oil Painting for Your Home or Office

Tip #1. Size

The first thing that needs to be considered in choosing the perfect oil painting is the size of the space where your artwork will be displayed. This can be done by taking measurements of the wall space or area. If it is a large area, you will want a larger size painting; a smaller area requires a smaller one. This is an important step that should not be neglected. If you purchase a painting and it doesn’t fit in the space, you will be unhappy with your selection. Too small, and the painting look lost and out of place in all that empty wall space. Too large, and the painting will appear crowded in the space or won’t even fit the space at all. Hence, it is a good idea to measure your wall space before shopping for a painting.

Tip #2. Color

The color scheme in your home or office needs to be considered as well. Your painting should complement the colors in the room unless you are going for harsh contrasts. You might not be happy if the colors in your new painting clash with your sofa instead of complimenting it. Also, keep in mind that colors play an essential role in setting moods. Choose calming colors, such as light blues and greens, for bedrooms and areas where relaxation is essential. Bold colors work well in rooms and spaces where conversation and entertainment take place.

Tip #3. Style

The next thing to consider is the style of your décor. Is it contemporary, traditional, or a combination of both? Why not mix and match? Not everything in your home needs to match or be the same. Think about mixing up patterns, textures, and even eras. If your home is an older home with traditional décor, a piece of modern art might look great! And the same goes for a vintage-style painting in a contemporary setting. Remember to have fun; at the end of the day, all that matters is that you love it.

Tip #4. Subject

Next, think about what types of subject matter interest you in a painting. Still life, landscapes, seascapes, or wildlife? Paintings of faraway places or local hangouts? People perhaps. Art can be a great conversation starter between you and visitors. You can choose a painting that is different or makes a bold statement. It can be fun to see what type of reaction your family and visitors will have upon seeing the painting for the first time.

Tip #5. Purpose

Make sure you buy something you love. Take your time to decide what it is you like in a piece of art. What type of paintings are you naturally drawn to? Is it a particular style, artist, or period? Browsing through galleries, museums, art books, and websites will help you to decide. This will be necessary to know if you are considering buying art as an investment. Keep in mind that paintings will take a long time to go up in value, so it is best to buy a painting because you love it rather than waiting for it to be worth a lot of money someday.

Once you have something in mind, you will be able to find just the right oil painting to suit your needs and bring you and your family years of enjoyment.

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UPDATED: 03 June 2021

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10 Tips for Painting Mountains

tips for Painting Mountains
The Grand Teton Mountains by Teresa Bernard

Mountains have always been admired for their grandeur, which is one reason why they are a popular feature for artists to include in their landscape paintings.

If you’re an artist who wants to paint mountains, then these ten simple tips are for you.

Mountain Ranges You Can Paint

Mountains are popular with art buyers from all over the world. So much so that many top art galleries prefer to display oil paintings of landscapes featuring some popular mountain ranges.  With so many mountain ranges globally, artists will never run out of subjects for their mountain landscapes. Some famous mountain ranges you might want to consider painting are:

Mount Kilimanjaro Africa painting
Mount Kilimanjaro Rising by Teresa Bernard
    • Blue Ridge Mountains
    • The Canadian Rockies
    • Grand Tetons
    • Himalayas
    • Matterhorn
    • Mount Kilimanjaro
    • Rocky Mountains
    • Smokey Mountains
    • Swiss Alps
    • and numerous others

Painting Mountains From Your Imagination

mars landscape oil painting
Land Rover Tracks of Mars by Teresa Bernard

Or you might want to design a mountain range from your imagination. No hard and fast rule says it has to be an actual mountain that exists somewhere on earth. You could even paint a mountain range that is on some distant moon or planet. Olympus Mons, the highest mountain on Mars, for example. Of course, you would have to rely on some reference photos from NASA’s image gallery for something like that.

Here is a painting of an off-world landscape with a mountain range made up entirely from the artist’s imagination.

Tips for Painting Mountains

Tip #1 — Pay special attention to the mountain or mountain range profile you are painting. Especially if it is a recognizable landmark, every mountain has a unique feature and specific shape. Those who view your painting will recognize the scenery and will want to buy your painting as a result because it has some special meaning for them.

Tip #2 — As you are sketching the mountain onto your canvas, consider making it the dominating feature to show off its majesty. This can quickly be done by giving it the most space on the real estate of your canvas surface. This will reduce the surrounding supporting elements such as the trees, lakes, sky, grass, wildlife, etc.

Tip #3 — As the distance between you and the mountain range increases, everything gets lighter in value. As the landscape hits the horizon line, the color is less saturated as it disappears into the distance and becomes closer in value to the sky color.

Tip #4 — When painting mountains that are off in the distance, be sure to employ atmospheric or aerial perspective to create a sense of depth. A faraway mountain range will usually appear lighter, hazier, and bluer as it gets further away.

Tip #5 —  The further away a mountain is, the less detail it will have. That means crevasses in the mountainside will become less defined, and you probably will not see any trees either.

Tip #6 — Tone is essential when painting mountains. The mountain will be a pale tone near the top and will have a deeper tone at its base. This will help to give the mountain depth.

Tip #7 — As a general rule, try to arrange the shape of your mountains, so they slope into the picture and not out. This will help direct the viewer’s eye into the painting as they follow the outline of the mountain.

Tip #8 — Try to blur the outline of the furthest mountain into the sky. You can blur it more than you would initially think as the viewer will “create” the shape of the mountain in their mind’s eye.

Tip #9 — To create a sense of depth in your landscape painting, paint your mountain ranges in layers going from those that are the furthest away to those closest. The mountains that are furthest away should be painted first. They should be the lightest, haziest, and possess the least amount of detail. Next, add another range of mountains closer to you. These would be placed in front of the first mountain range. They would be more intense in color and have more details than the previous range, but not as much as the next range to be added. Continue doing this until you have all your mountains in place. Layering various additional elements in your painting’s foreground will help give distance and perspective to the mountain range in the background.

Tip #10 — Not all mountains resemble inverted cones; many are lopsided, pyramidal, or even flat on top. Some have snow caps, while others do not. Add interest to your mountains by varying their contour, texture, and color.

Additional Reading

The Rules of Perspective Drawing

Using Atmospheric Perspective to Create Depth in Your Paintings

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All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Paintbrushes and Then Some — Part 3

what to know about artist paintbrushesThis article is the final installment of a three-part discussion on artist paintbrushes. As a recap, in “All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some, Part 1,” brush anatomy and bristle types were discussed. In part two, we looked at brush shapes and sizes. In part three, the various brush manufacturers and paintbrush care will be covered.

An artist’s single most important tool in oil painting is the paintbrush. It is the main piece of equipment used to apply paint to canvas. Artist brushes come in a wide variety of types, sizes, and shapes. Knowing all you can about the different kinds of brushes available and how they are used will allow you to choose the right one for each stage of your canvas painting.

Manufacturers of Artist Paintbrushes

Artist paintbrushes are made by a variety of manufacturers from around the world. A few more popular brands are da Vinci, Winsor & Newton, Silver Brush Limited, Raphael Paris Classic, and the Robert Simmons line of brushes. These brands are the best known and most used high-quality brand names of brushes. They will always be known for the quality of the brush and its longevity, and ease of use.

Some artists are faithful to just one or two particular brands and will not use anything else. Conversely, other artists like to have an assortment of different brands available depending on their needs at the time. The only way to know which brand you will like best is by using the brushes yourself. Some name brands will be more expensive than others; however, don’t let that be what you base your final purchasing decision on. With proper care, the more expensive brushes will outlast the lesser made and priced brands.

Caring for Your Artist Paintbrushes

art brush careIt makes no sense to invest in quality artist brushes if you’re not going to take proper care of them. All artist brushes require a thorough cleaning at the end of each painting session. Let me repeat, never store your brush until it is thoroughly cleaned.

Never leave your artist paintbrush standing head down in a solvent for any length of time. This can cause the brush to lose its shape. After cleaning, a brush should be hung head-down or laid flat to dry. This allows moisture to drain out of the ferrule and hairs. If you allow your brush to dry standing up, the cleaner and paint residue can drain towards the ferrule, weakening the glue that holds the strands to the handle. In addition, it can also cause a buildup of paint residue in the ferrule. In time, this will also cause the brush to become misshaped. When a brush loses its shape, it is then worthless.

As a final step in caring for your paintbrushes, you will need to remove the solvent from the head by using a mild “degreaser,” like dish soap and warm water. This helps to keep the hairs soft and undamaged.

One final word – always keep in mind that your artist brushes are expensive. If you take good care of them, they will last a long, long time.

Additional Reading

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 1

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 2

Have a question?

If you have a question about this painting, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

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