Atmospheric perspective

Atmospheric enough for you?
Today was damp and drizzly—a perfect opportunity to consider atmospheric perspective. We did so at Glen Cove in Rockport, where on a clear day we can see islands in the far distance. Today was not a clear day; it became steadily less clear as we went on.
Matt’s view of the above scene. Yes, those are water droplets on his canvas.
Atmospheric (or aerial) perspective is the tendency of objects far away to have less contrast and chroma than objects nearby. In painting, we create the illusion of depth by depicting more distant objects as lighter and less-detailed than closer objects.
Pamela chose a long view of a boat at anchor. By the time she finished, the scene was monochromatic.
That’s not just a painterly convention. Solar radiation approaches the Earth in a direct beam, but is then scattered around in our atmosphere. That’s what gives us blue skies, pink sunsets and atmospheric perspective. On a clear day, there’s more of it bouncing around between you and that distant hill than between you and your coffee cup, so the distant hill looks bluer.
Nancy chose the same view, and experienced the same change in conditions.
Of course, when fog comes into play, it is water droplets that obscure that distant hill. However, the effect is the same. The easiest way to execute it is to just add some of the sky color—whether that’s blue, or grey, or violet—into the greens of the distant hills. The more distant the object, the more sky color should be added to it.
Sue chose the beach view.
At about 2 PM, the atmospherics had gotten a bit too thick to see much of anything at all, so we had a cup of hot tea and proceeded to the Farnsworth.  There we saw, among many fantastic paintings, Fitz Henry Lane’s Shipping in Down East Waters (1854) which is a luminous painting of boats in fog. Nothing like seeing how a master did it!
Sue hard at work.

And if these days weren’t enough, my intrepid students went out last night and painted the full moon over Chickawaukie Lake:
Matt’s view across Chickawaukie Lake.

Pamela’s view across Chickawaukie Lake showed the sinuous ripples that were there.
Matt’s second view across Chickawaukie Lake.
Nancy’s view across Chickawaukie Lake.

Pamela’s second view across Chickawaukie Lake.
The second of my Maine workshops started today. August and September are sold out , but there are openings in October! Check here for more information.