Monday, August 15, 2016

Alaska Mountain Peaks

Alaska Mountain Peaks

My summer break from my blog has ended.

Summer is winding down and it is time to get back to "work!"  Although I have not been blogging during the summer months, I have been painting!    So, grab that paint brush and let's get back to work!

I did some traveling during the spring and summer and some of the paintings you will be seeing in upcoming blogs are landscapes of the beautiful scenery I enjoyed during my travels.  The painting above titled "Mountain Magic" was painted from a photo taken while traveling in Alaska.  The mountains are located in Denali National Park. 

Let's get started!  The painting above is an acrylic painted on an 12" x 16" canvas. 

Supplies needed:
Canvas (size of your choice)
Brushes - flat and round
Palette knife

Acrylic paint in the following colors:
  • White
  • Crimson
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Black
  • Sap Green
  • Burnt Umber
  • Burnt Sienna 
  • Yellow Ochre
Painting Instructions:
As a reminder, when painting with acrylics as opposed to watercolor, the paint is applied from dark to light.  In watercolor, one paints from light to dark. 

Using the painting above for reference, lightly sketch the mountains and the lake.  This is not detailed, but just enough to indicate where the foreground and background mountains are located as well as the lake shore. 

Sky and Lake:
Using Cerulean Blue and white start painting the sky moving from dark to light down to the tops of the mountains.   Start with blue and mix in white as you move down the canvas.  Clouds will be added later with a palette knife. 

And in reverse, paint the lake moving from light down to dark with the light area where the water meets the shore. 

Painting the mountains using aerial perspective........

What is aerial perspective?
Aerial perspective is the optical effect that the atmosphere has on objects viewed at a long distance.
For example, in the daytime, a mountain range will usually appear bluer and lighter as it gets further and further away from us.  The air in the atmosphere contains various impurities and these act as a filter stopping certain wavelengths of light reaching our eyes.  This gives the illusion of a change of color and value.  Cool colors like blues and greens get through the ‘filter’ of air more easily than the warm colors so mountains usually appear bluer.

5 points to remember
  1. As the distance between you and the mountain increases, the contrast between the mountain and its background (usually sky) decreases.
  2. The further away a mountain is the less detailed it becomes.
  3. The color becomes less and less saturated (intense) as it disappears into the distance and becomes closer to the background color. As objects are viewed at increasing distances the color change effect is more pronounced, and (if viewed in the day) progressively from purple to blue. This will give the illusion of depth.
  4. The elements most altered by aerial perspective are the dark tones, e.g: a dark green will change more dramatically than a light green.
  5. Warm and cool – Use the power of warm and colors to add even more depth. Add a red highlight in the foreground to bring your viewers gaze forward and to heighten the effect. Warm in the foreground cools in the background
Now, let's paint!
Paint the mountains with shades of brown with the brown bordering on purple.  So mixing a brown using red, blue and yellow will achieve the result you will need.  You can add more or less of each color until you achieve the shade you will need.  Paint the mountains working from the distant mountains to the ones on the shoreline with the lighter brown in the distance.  Add shadows by deepening the nooks and crevices.

Allow the mountains to dry before adding the snow. 

Snow on the mountains:
As you will note in the photo above, the snow is not just white.  Areas of highlights and shadow are painted by adding pink or blue "snow" to certain areas of the mountains. 

Using a palette knife drag white paint down the shape of the mountains referring to the photo above.  Do not completely cover the mountains with white, allow some of the brown paint to show through.

After the white paint has dried, use the palette knife again to add blue and pink highlights and shadows to the snow on the mountains.  Again, allow some of the white and brown of the mountain show through.

Dark and scrubby evergreens are found on the shoreline.  Paint these using a dark green shade which can be mixed from Sap Green and Ultramarine.  Also, prepare some lighter green by adding white and/or yellow.  I painted these using "dabbing" stokes with a small flat brush.

The base color of the lake was painted previously.  Now you will need to add reflections from the shoreline and the mountains.  Using the same colors used to the paint the mountains and the shoreline trees, dab these colors in the lake and use short horizontal strokes to blend with the paint already applied to the lake. 

Using a palette knife pull in several clouds in the sky; make your placement random.

Foreground Trees:
The tall foreground trees growing up from below the edge of the canvas are black spruce.    They are tall, but skinny trees and are typical of this cold climate.  The trees must adapt to the cold and must invest a lot of energy into building\ structural tissues (wood)  which gives them a competitive advantage for light.  Leaves/needles are sometimes put at a disadvantage where resources, such as warmth and nutrients are concerned.  Therefore, the trees are tall, but scrubby with shorter branches than trees in the lower 48 states where the temperatures are warmer and light is prevalent year around. 

I decided how many and where I wanted my trees and using a round brush with brown paint, I painted a vertical down where I wanted my trees.   Using my vertical line, I started painting my trees with a flat brush and dabbed and pulled the paint from the center trunk out to the tip of the branches.  Remember these trees are sparse with the branches short and angling downward.  Vary the placement of the branches.    I used various shades of green and brown paint to create the tree branches and trunk. 

After you have finished painting the trees, step back and look at your painting to see if any highlights need to be added.

Then, sign you painting!


Happy Painting!

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