Creating a Sense of Scale in a Mountain Painting

Most mountain paintings benefit from a sense of space and scale – we need to make them look huge and impressive whether they are a backdrop to a valley scene, or viewed from high up. In this watercolour of the Brenva Arete in the French Alps the cool colours make the distant features recede into the distance, helped by the warm red introduced into the left-hand pinnacles.

What really emphasises the sense of vastness, however, are the three small figures that you can see crossing the glacier on the left, just above the savage-looking crevasses. By including figures in your mountain paintings you can achieve this quality of space and scale, but be sure to make them small. Giants in the foreground will simply have the opposite affect!

In the previous blog you were asked to think about the position of the dhow. The reason I placed it in that position was because it is pointing towards the centre-line of the painting, and not ‘sailing’ or ‘looking’ out of it. The same treatment should be given to people, animals, vehicles, or whatever, as the viewer’s eye is distracted by these seemingly innocuous aberrations.

2 thoughts on “Creating a Sense of Scale in a Mountain Painting

  1. Your watercolours never cease to amaze me David. You have a very rare talent of being able to suggest lots of detail without actually cluttering up the painting by putting it all in. I have a lot to learn from you!

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