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Online Programs: Landforms

Lesson 2 – Anatomy of a Landscape

There are often three parts to a landscape painting related to space:

  • Foreground is the part of the landscape painting that appears nearest to the viewer.
  • Middle Ground is the area in a landscape paiting between the foreground and the background.
  • Background is the area farthest away creating a sense of perspective or relative distance.

Infinite Space

Landscape artists want the viewers of their paintings to feel it is possible to walk into the pictures…and wander around.

Landscape artists have to paint infinite space on a flat canvas! They have to make some things look really, really far away and some things look close up.

  • How do they do this?
  • How do they create the illusion of space on a flat surface?
  • How would you solve this problem?

Perspective

Why do we feel we can walk around in Carl Rungius’ painting of Bow Valley?
One reason this painting looks like a real place is because Rungius used perspective. He includes a foreground, middle ground and background in the picture. Objects in the foreground often overlap the things in the background. Can you find examples of this? Rungius also makes things in the front bigger than those in the distance.

How big would YOU look if you were in the foreground of this painting?
How big would you look if you were on the top of that distant mountain?


Give landscape painting a try!

Paint a landscape that looks like you could walk in and wander around. Use a photo or work from a sketch made on location. How can the illusion of space be created in your artwork? Consider using tricks such as change of size, position and overlapping.

As you know, many landscape painters do their work outside.


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