Painting Intensive: Part 3:

Today we will start by looking at the work of Paul Cezanne and his use of Atmospheric perspective.

Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century.

 

So how does this relate to what we will be studying today? Today we will be looking at and practicing atmospheric perspective.

Aerial perspective or atmospheric perspective refers to the effect the atmosphere has on the appearance of an object as it is viewed from a distance. As the distance between an object and a viewer increases, the contrast between the object and its background decreases, and the contrast of any markings or details within the object also decreases. So remember when we were playing around with contrast yesterday, well now we have a continuation of the importance of contrast in the form of how contrast decreases as we go further back in space. To put it really simply, stuff gets blurrier as it goes into the distance. In the selected Cezanne paintings above we can see how he used atmospheric perspective to achieve a sense of depth (even though Cezanne was all about flattening the picture plane). Check out the Da Vinci below, that’s the Virgin on the Rocks and is also a great example of how atmospheric perspective works.

Your task will be to work from these landscape photos to create a work which exhibits the qualities of atmospheric perspective. Since we are working with watercolors the key will be to water down the colors more as they fade into the distance, and use higher concentration of colors for the foreground. Remember that these principles can be applied to any painting and that the key isn’t necessarily only to learn how to use this principle in landscape painting, but also in other situation where you want the background to recede. Here in Prague, Czech Republic it is often easy to see atmospheric perspective at play in the hills west of Prague where we will go in a few weeks for some Plein Air painting. So consdier this some preparatory work.