what do we see in nature?
In nature things get lighter in the distance. This is called aerial perspective.
Particles in the air reflect light, thus making the distant objects appear lighter.
On a very clear day you can see farther because there are fewer particles in the air.
In the painting at the right the mountains in the background are much lighter than the foreground.
Aerial perspective is doing its job and we artists duplicate it in our paintings by adjusting the tones.
We paint the aerial perspective by adjusting the tones.
the value of colors
Different colors reflect or absorb more or less light. Yellow reflects
the most light of any color. The light bounces back off the color into
our eyes. This makes the color look lighter to us.
Purple is the darkest color. It adsorbs most of the light rays. Very
little light bounces back to our eyes. So the color looks very dark to
There is no rule that says a person has to paint something its actual natural color. A painting will work as long as we use light against dark.
Dolphins are actually gray. Plain old gray is boring to me. I painted these dolphins pink and purple instead.
Grey-scale showing the light and dark colors.
painting with values
The focal area is the place to use your lightest lights and your darkest darks. The strong contrast of lights and darks automatically draws the eye to that area.
We also use more saturated colors in the focal area.
Use the highest contrast in the focal area.
See the contrast in the grey-scale.
The high contrast between the bright, light wall of the back barn and the dark doorway draw the viewer into the painting.
The contrast along with more saturated colors draws the viewer's eyes to the focal area.
As much as I love color, a painting must have good contrast and a variety of values to be successful.
You can do it! Have fun painting!