Part 3: Project 4: Exercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective

Brief

Another way of creating a sense of distance is through aerial or atmospheric perspective. This refers to the way that distant objects appear less distinct and colour intensity fades towards blue-grey as objects recede.

This exercise is about tonal gradation. When you’re working with perspective and the suggestion of distance, you should notice that tonal values become lighter as the amount of space between the eye and the horizon increases. Detail is less clear and focus steadily reduced. If there is moisture in the air greater ‘fogging’ occurs and, even on a fine day, it can seem as though veils of blue are layered across the mid to far distance.

In hot and arid zones, aerial perspective barely exists and the hottest tones (such as the reds in the rocky outcrops of the Australian desert) retain their saturated depth far into the distance.

Using drawing media such as charcoal, soft graphite, conté sticks, soft chalky pastel, oil sticks and ink, make several tonal studies that analyse receding features of the landscape from foreground to mid and far distance.

With a light touch, establish the horizon before plotting the basic forms of objects in the landscape. Analyse the gradation of tone away into the distance. You may prefer to use a single colour, using monochrome as a tonal and atmospheric tool.

In the image below the artist has used a soft reddish grey palette across the whole scene to suggest a misty atmosphere that contrasts with the strong linear drawing style. This is a quite different approach to the use of colour and tone, but equally atmospheric.

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 - course notes image
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Tower of St Ia, St Ives, 1963 (pencil and mixed media)

Drawings

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Aerial or atmospheric perspective - tonal study 1
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective – tonal study 1

A view from the adjoining field looking over our house and two neighbouring houses towards the hills of Glenurquhart Forest park. In the winter the sun never makes it over the horizon between late November until late February, so I was lucky to catch the light for this drawing before the clocks turn back at the end of October. This was drawn from the field on a sunny Autumn afternoon and the light in the air made it quite challenging to capture the atmospheric perspective, but I think with eyes squinting you can just about catch the movement upwards from darker to lighter tones from ground level to a more shimmery hill line.

Drawn with Conté crayon.

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Aerial or atmospheric perspective - tonal study 2
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective – tonal study 2

A trip up the Sutherland coast to one of my favourite spots – Brora Harbour – drawn from across the River Brora looking down and across to the horizon line just above the rooftop on the left, out over the Moray Firth towards the Aberdeen shire coast. Drawn with Fineliner pen and washed in using Inktense block and waterbrush.

I’m not too sure that my dark(ish) foreground, moving up through the middle ground to the background and horizon line above the houses shows enough of a tonal transition of colour.

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Aerial or atmospheric perspective - tonal study 3
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective – tonal study 3

Another wee jaunt to a favourite location, this time along the Aberdeenshire coast.

This is a charcoal and soft pastel drawing of Banff harbour from the outer wall looking to the inner-basin with the streetscape behind. View up the hill over the houses to the skyline.

No cityscapes here – yet. Much of my landscape country is rural and/or coastline.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
22 October 2015