Friday, January 22, 2010

Painting the Long View

"Secret Canyon I" 5x7, oil - contact Michael

"Secret Canyon II" 5x7, oil - contact Michael

"Sugar Loaf" 5x7, oil - contact Michael

As you remember, I did a few diptychs recently in an effort to catch some of the grandness of the Sedona panorama. But in all that beauty, sometimes one particular distant mountain would catch my eye. So in addition to the diptychs, I did a few paintings of these long views.

I forget which painter it was, and a quick Google search didn't bring up the name, but I remember reading about one who painted views through a spyglass. The spyglass gives you a monocular view rather than the binocular view we're so used to, which helps to flatten the image and reduce the sense of distance between the nearest and most distant objects. (I may be thinking of Cezanne or one of the other post-Impressionist image-flatteners.) Also, the view tends to be more high-key with almost no dark accents but lots of greyed colors. Shapes are simplified and often modelled only by mid-tone and highlight.

The three paintings above are my long views. As a comparison, I also offer the image below of a landmark that was much closer to us. You'll note the Chimney is modelled with three values (highlight, mid-value, dark) and there is some good dark in the cast shadow.

"Chimney" 5x7, oil - contact Michael


Marsha Hamby Savage said...

Michael, I don't think (or maybe you do) you realize what an inspiration seeing all the work you do does for us. I can't wait to paint again in Sedona. These posts are great for making me think how I can improve my own work. Besides wanting to add to my collection of your work -- be still my checkbook / credit card! Marsha

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Marsha!

Bill Cramer said...

I do this too sometimes. Taking the long view distills and simplifys the scene. Kinda like what we try to achieve when squinting our eyes. It also helps me to get to thinking about the compositional possibilities of a scene. The cropping and zoom in/out tools are in our own heads!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Sometimes looking far and zooming in is easier than trying to find a good composition closer-by.