Saturday, August 29, 2009

Seeking Atmosphere in art

As a teenager, I can remember sitting in English class on rainy days looking off towards the dark spruce woods on South Mountain and watching the mist drift over the land obscuring some trees and revealing parts of others, to suddenly be awoken from my daydreaming by my teacher, "Owen! Your attention on the blackboard!". Fog, mist and rain have always fascinated me and even then I thought it would be great to be an artist and be able to portray these effects.
Watercolor possesses the ability to create atmosphere unlike other medias. We can start with an wet-in-wet approach and concentrate on soft edges putting in transparent silhouettes of objects and gradually adding color and darker tones as we advance to the foreground.
Another approach is to layer transparent washes of gouache over the entire painting laying down a veil of fog. The painting above, "Socked In", was done in this way with two opaque colors, Chinese White and Coastal Fog. Using an atomizer, I sprayed this mixture over the entire paper, allowed it to dry and then came back and selectively added accents and brighter colors.