The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust

Friday, February 12, 2010

Creating Depth in a Landscape Painting

Creating depth in a landscape painting is just one way to engage the viewer, kindle imagination, and invite him or her in to your painting.  How do you create the illusion of distance and space on a flat surface? Well, I’ve discovered a few ways how *not* to do it, but instead, let’s look at the various methods the experts recommend.

Many people would say you create depth using atmospheric or aerial perspective.  But the word “perspective” tends to send chills down the spine of many a budding artist.  But I think aerial perspective is only one method of adding depth. And it’s not really all that scary, honestly.

There are actually six different things you can do to create depth in a painting.
  1. Vary your planes. And no, I don’t mean planes of the 747 style. Make your foreground, middle ground, and background distinct and separate. While this division of planes isn’t always possible in compositions with a short visual range, it works well with longer range vistas.
A great example is this painting from Jim Wilcox, called "A Colorful Dawn." You can see its foreground, middle ground, and background are very obviously distinct. (Jim’s site is
Another good example is Armand Cabrera's "Summer Relief." (

This one also has a very distinct foreground (the pond and birds), a middle ground (the grassy hill and trees) and a background (the hazy mountains).

To be continued.....

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