Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mood and Dominance

"Fog Study 1" 3x9, pastel

"Fog Study 2" 4x9, pastel

Like many people, I enjoy movies. For me, it's not just the storyline but the moods. If the movie's any good, it will be dominated by a particular mood. Some of my very favorite moody films include Dark City , City of Lost Children and, well, there are many others, some not so dark.

If you study movies, you'll note that mood is created through several devices including music, value and color. Music doesn't have much application to landscape painting (unless you paint wearing your iPod), but value and color certainly do. For the mood to really work for the viewer, some value and some color must dominate. For City of Lost Children, for example, the movie is dominated by dark values and cool greens and browns. The movie wouldn't work as well if there were as many high-key scenes as low-key ones, or if there were lots of sunny scenes sprinkled in.

The same goes for any particular scene. A dark, mysterious scene might not work if some set designer painted half the furniture a cheery, bright yellow. It's the same with painting. A successful piece will have a dominant value and a dominant color - always.

The two pastel sketches were done on a cool, foggy day. I purposely made dominant the light values and cool colors. (Both pieces are available for sale in my studio store,


Paula Ann Ford said...

Both of those studies are gorgeous Michael!!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thank you, Paula!