To painters, atmosphere has two meanings; the emotions conjured up by the image you are creating or the effect of the weather on the scene.
In this painting of Little Langdale the esoteric atmosphere I was trying to create was of an isolated farmhouse, surrounded by the mountains, abandoned and slowly decaying, there are no animals, the roof is beginning to sag and the wilderness is returning to the fields. All is not lost though, the roof is intact. Perhaps someone will make it a home once again.
The other meaning of the word atmosphere in this painting is created by the use of colour, tone, and detail. These are the three essential ingredients to help you create a sense of recession in your painting, and I make no apology for referring to them time and time again. Keep the distant features cooler in colour, lighter in tone and with less detail than the foreground and middle distance features and you will be well on your way to inviting your viewer into the picture,
You can read more about this aspect of painting and many other tips in my book, Painting with Pastels, published by Search Press. There is also a DVD of the same name to accompany the book and a special offer on the two together.
In order to develop our painting skills, it is a good idea to experiment from time to time, Often this starts with just making a bit of a mess. A while ago I wanted to try using Mixed Media on the sandpaper, Fisher 400 Artpaper, that I love to use for my pastel paintings, as I was aware that it was waterproof, unlike the industrial sandpaper that I used before Fisher 400 was produced.
This painting of Twilight Cottage, started with an ink outline of the building, followed by a watercolour wash of Naples Yellow and Ultramarine in the sky and Cadmium Orange and Cadmium Yellow in the foreground. I let this all mingle and some of the ink drawing ran into the washes.
At first I thought that this was a mistake but when it was dry the dirtyness of the cottage appealed to me and also suggested a low light. So I worked into the painting with pastel, leaving large areas of the watercolour washes showing and added some undergrowth in the foreground with the scraping technique, which involves scraping flakes of pastel onto the painting and pressing them into the surface with a palette knife. This creates a spatter which resembles flowers or seed heads.
You can read how to create the scraping technique in my book, and you can see it demonstrated in film on my DVD,. The book and dvd are entitled Painting with Pastel and are on special offer our website.