Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thoughts on Landscape

The landscape thumbnails we have been doing in class have brought up a lot of discussion points. Several of you asked if I could make a list of them to refer to. Landscape is a large topic and these points are only a jumping off place. Refer to my blog post on "Reference Books for Landscape" to learn more. John Carlson is indispensable.  

Questions that need answers:

·       What is the direction and angle of the light?
·       Is there a foreground, mid-ground and background?
·       Where is your focal point?
·       What is the story?  There can be only one.


·       Always design inside a design space (the four edges of your thumbnail or canvas).
·       Always design to a ratio. A different ratio means a different design.
·       Seek balance, but not symmetry.
·       Use the steelyard balance. Think of your shapes as if they were on a teeter-totter. The greater the weight of the shape, the more compensatory actions will be needed to balance it.
·       Think of everything in terms of dominance – dominant, subordinate, sub-subordinate. This applies to everything (value, color, texture, temperature, chroma, shapes)
·       Avoid half and half in anything.

Distribution of values:

·       When designing in B&W, initially think in terms of light, medium and dark value shapes. Do not divide them equally. Think dominant, subordinate, sub-subordinate.  This is referred to as Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear or Gallon, Quart, Pint.

Carlson’s Angles of the Landscape:

·       I refer to them as planes rather than angles, but in terms of light theory or how the sun relates to the landscape determine which planes are directly facing the sun (light); which planes are in the process of turning away from the sun (halftone or medium); and which planes are turned away from the sun (dark).

·       In landscape the three types of planes correspond to vertical planes (trees, sides of buildings), inclined planes (hills, angled rooftops) and horizontal (the ground, the flat top of a rock). Carlson called these the angles of the landscape.  The fourth angle is the vault of the sky, which is a secondary light source.

·       Before you paint, know which angle/plane of the landscape corresponds to which value.

·       Remember that while you must have three values for the three planes, those three values can be close together or far apart. The closer two values are, the more the eye will link them. The sky can create a fourth value or link with one of the other three values.

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