Friday, April 8, 2011

Horizon value

George Inness

Hi, Stape,
YES, Carlson is definitely hard going! I am having to read tons of paragraphs several times before they click, and I see I will need to refer back to it many times. However, the information is SO GREAT. This question below is the first thing I really couldn't grasp so far, and I'm about half way through.
I'm a bit confused by the "darkening of lightest sky at horizon line" since I don't see it in real life and most paintings I see seem to lighten until darker horizon. I'll be on the look out for examples, and from what you're saying, it's not essential to darken sky at horizon correct?
.................Myrtle Durgin,


Carlson's book is a must read. It is the landscape painters bible. But it does take a lot of work and study to decipher it. The language is archaic, the writers learned English later in life and the vast information is compressed.

It is not essential to darken the sky at the horizon, nature reveals both. However sometimes you may choose to. The greatest contrast in a landscape is often at this point. You want to choose where you want that greatest contrast not have it imposed upon you. As that contrast is an eye grabber you need to be careful about that.

If you are putting that contrast at the horizon line in every picture, you may want ton darken that juncture so as to downplay it in some paintings. Otherwise you may find you have a whole show full of pictures with the greatest contrast in exactly the same place. The point here is that YOU decide what the picture looks like, NOT NATURE.

Inness posited that the best value for the horizon sky was the middle tone of the painting, that is, half the tones of the painting would be brighter and half darker. I don't know that he always took his own advice. It is a nice way to set up a painting though. I hope that answered your question.


Lori said...

Hi Stape, I'd like to add a little something here about what I've noticed by studying the sea-horizons of Hudson River School painters - such as those of William Trost Richards.

Oh, and I've observed what I'm about to describe from studying sea-horizons from life... in the morning or late afternoon.

At one end where the sea meets the sky, it is lighter (nearer to the sun) and the value at the "sunnier" part of the horizon is close, while the opposite edge of sea/sky - farther from the sun has the sea darker than the sky.

I've observed that no horizon is equally the same in value or temperature from one side to the other. There is usually a transition.

Stape, have you seen this same thing? It' OK to have a different opinion, of course ;-)


Lori said...

addition: close to the sun, the values between the sea and sky is close.

Lucy said...

Are you referring to Carlson's guide to Landscape painting?

Lori, I've seen that shift in sky/sea horizon values Abstract painter, Cynthia Knott bases her work on that phenomenon.

My3Starz said...

Ah HAH! Always back to DESIGNING, not copying.
Thank you, great points, love Myrtle

Gregory Becker said...

I learned from Richard Robinson that if you can mix the horizon color (whatever it is) and mix your foreground colors and the mix a little horizon color into the foreground colors it will naturally gradate the values in a painting so long as you keep the values relative to one another along the way. It works and looks very realistic. I use that method often.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have noticded that. Using it makes the light directional.Incidentally EVERY from gradates in some direction.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes, I am.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is one of the recurrent themes of this blog. You CANNOT OBSERVE DESIGN INTO A PAINTING!

Stapleton Kearns said...

There are so many little tricks like that!

willek said...

Very interesting, Stape I had not ever considered the horizon value before. Great analysis of the picture, too. Thanks.