Tuesday, March 16, 2010
A tip for placing buildings into a landscape
I taught today here in the Mississippi delta, I like it here, it reminds me of Dutch paintings. It has the big skies and the low horizons that guys like van Goyen (above courtesy of art renewal .org) painted so well.
We painted a group of low barns with a dirt road meandering through them. I did a demo in the morning that came off well enough.Then I turned the students loose to work on there own paintings as I ran from easel to easel to give individual instruction. Many of the students had a problem designing the architecture into the landscape, Their barns seemed to have an uncomfortable place in the landscape. Several divided the canvas by area into barn and landscape with neither taking prominence. What I recommended they do was this.........
Paint the landscape first and drop the barns into it. Put the barns into the world, rather than build the barns and wrap the world around them. That way they are painting the elements in descending order of scale. The land and trees and sky are big, the barn is smaller so it is placed into the already established tableau. I suggested that as they lay in their paintings they rub a place holder spot out to represent the structures, but then to get the landscape done.
This gives a couple of advantages. It gives a more believable look, but more importantly many landscapes with buildings in them get too linear, too many right angles and hard corners. The antidote to that is relieving those with the rounded and undulating shapes of the land and trees. Painting those in first makes them more dominant than painting them as decorations gathered around the buildings. Above is a similar scene to the one we painted today that neatly shows how it is done. Lots of air around the buildings and they are within the landscape.