Aerial Perspective – The Atmosphere That Keeps You and Your Paintings Alive (Online art lesson # 61)

Air! You can’t live without it.  It really is something, isn’t it? Take a deep breath: we are blessed to have such an atmosphere.   Your paintings need this air to breathe too!

It is not empty space between you and the distant mountains.  The Atmosphere in atmospheric / aerial perspective is a tangible thing.

View of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks from Charlotte, VT, Lillian Kennedy

Click  to enlarge the view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks as seen from Charlotte Vermont.  Then note how the landscape steps back into pale blues. photo: L Kennedy

Tips on seeing the atmosphere  can be found at  COLOR: Beware of Preconceptions (Online art lesson #35).

The Simplified “rules” of Aerial Perspective:

sailboats on Lake Champlain, Charlotte, Vermont ; weekly art lesson: Lillian Kennedy photo

 These sailboats  (right outside my window) use the movement of the atmosphere as they race and dance about.  Atmospheric conditions will be covered in future lessons – this week concentrate on  aerial perspective and note it here and as you go about your life.   photo: L Kennedy

*yes, you will find exceptions to these rules, but if you think you’re seeing an exception, really check it out.  Most of the time it will just appear to be an exception.

1. As colors recede they become higher in value (lighter).

2. Colors lose contrast as they move into the distance.  Light colors will become a bit darker and dark colors will become a lot lighter.

3. Colors lose intensity as they move into the background.  They are less bright; they become duller as if layers of gauze have been placed over them.  Imagine a brilliant red and what it would look like seen through layers of sheer curtains.

4. Colors move to the cool (blue) end of the spectrum as they recede. If you think you are seeing yellow in the distance, use the technique explained in COLOR: Beware of Preconceptions (Online art lesson #35) to check it out.

Posted from the shores of Lake Champlain.  Greeting to all back in Boulder,CO.

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One Response to Aerial Perspective – The Atmosphere That Keeps You and Your Paintings Alive (Online art lesson # 61)

  1. Hi Lill!

    …you will be very proud when you see the plein air studies I did this week in Steamboat. One of them even got a very positive remark from the workshop leader. He said I did a great job of capturing the atmosphere…it was a little hazy from a fire in Craig that day…can’t wait for you to see my little paintings. I’m sure YOU are having fun capturing the atmosphere in Vermont….oh yes, and the thermometer in the shady blue spruce in my back yard now says 99 degrees. whew! I hope you are staying cool.

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