Glencoe Stage 3


During the week I gave the whole painting a green glaze using a mixture of cerulean blue and cad yellow as I felt some of the colour had been lost. I also added a bit of white for the background.

I carried on adding glazes to the painting this weekend. I made a dark using burnt umber and indigo which kept a greeny tinge to the colour.Mixed with Golden glazing medium I applied thin layers over the mountains in the foreground and midground. I used a rag to rub this in and give an uneven effect.

I kept the sides darker and allowed this to creep up the sides of the painting as this should give a nice framing effect. This trick has been used by landscape painters for ever and the dark areas at the sides are called coulisse (meaning the side of a stage). You can read about this classical landscape trick and others in my blog discussing Claude Lorrain paintings

Claude’s work and other classical painters often featured planes, with a foreground midground and background very obvious. He did this by using atmospheric (or aerial) perspective, using progressively lighter areas of paint and adding more blue which give the effect of receding. Warmer colours will always appear closer to the front. The background would also be more hazy and slightly blurred which gives the impression you are looking through the atmosphere.

Another trick he used to link the different planes of the composition was to add in features like bridges and rivers which connect the different areas and allow the eye to zig zag through the work.

I have to admit I didn’t think of any of these things when I started this work but I think I’ve been lucky enough to have some of these features in the original photo. Perhaps this is why I chose the photo. These features are pleasing to the eye and brain and less jarring so a lot of it is subconscious. The loch in the mid ground serves to link the fore and background and the track zigzagging through the foreground links the eye to the loch. The mountains themselves also create a zig zag effect working up through the painting.

Many argue that this application of rules to a work of art leads to a very dry boring work and I think there is an element of that. However, I really do believe that all the best works of art use certain compositional rules which make them more appealing to the viewer. All of the artists who have broken these rules have certainly had to learn them to begin with and they knew exactly what they were doing and I certainly don’t feel knowledgable enough to start breaking rules yet!

There is lots to read about breaking compositional rules and making it work. Here are a couple articles I found (many of the same rules apply for painting and photography) but there are many many more:

Anyhoo, back to work!

While that was drying I made up a very light blue using titanium white and indigo and applied that to the sky and the loch.Then adding more glazing medium I thinned that mix right down and applied it to the hills in the background. I tried to do this in patches but it was too uneven so I had to apply some of the dark green in areas. I kept this up all over the background, applying a patch of cloud and then blending this in with the green.

I used a soft 1/2″ brush to apply the glazes but I found the white layer highlighted the slighted brushmarks which was very annoying. This is something that I really struggle with using acrylics, oils are so easy to blend. So to get rid of these marks I just went in with my finger and started rubbing the paint in. This created a much more natural foggy look.

After…. there’s a dribble in the foreground that I didn’t notice, aarrgh!

Just at the end I very roughly put some burnt sienna in the foreground, over the darkest areas. I wasn’t thinking too much when I did this and then panicked that I’d ruined it but when I came back I realised that this worked really well against the dark green. Possibly this is because the warmer sienna is brought forward against the cooler green.

Next step is to keep going with the glazes and maybe add more detail (aaargh sstop meee!) into the foreground.


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