Having fun with aerial perspective

The glorious, sunny weather that lasted so long has departed and we now have cloud and cold, but a clearer atmosphere. During most of the sunny days visibility was limited by haze, yet this was quite magical even on the mountain-tops, losing a considerable amount of unwanted detail in the scenery. Often we see too much and end up putting far too many complicated and highly-detailed features into our paintings, so it’s worth looking out for those days when visibility is more limited.

In this section of a watercolour painting of Lether Tor on Dartmoor I have slightly exaggerated the sense of distance and space by reducing the amount of detail beyond the small tree, as well as weakening the tones of the background area. By superimposing the dark tree in front this has the effect of suggesting distance. The cool blue-grey colour of the background ridge further adds to this impression as cool colours recede, while warm colours like reds or oranges, for example, will tend to come forward. Splashing a hint of warm colour into your foreground can be extremely effective, even if that colour is not actually present. In this scene I have used light red and yellow ochre in the foreground.

Murky days, therefore, do have their advantages, and can provide a fascinating surprise from time to time, and if you love the countryside as much as Jenny and I do, then you’ll want to be out in it as often as possible, so make the most of the Easter break and enjoy it, come sunshine or gloom!

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