Details Matching Reality


I’m in full detail mode with this latest painting. That doesn’t mean I’m close to finishing. The more I look at it the more detail that I see to add. One thing I’ve noticed is that the mountains are darker than I first thought. The mountains in the distance are also greyer and lighter than I thought. I think this has more to do with contrast than anything else.

I’m thinking about using an unsharp masking technique to reduce this. Normally unsharp masking is associated with sharpening but In this case I’m going to use it to make the mountains look darker and the background mountains look lighter.

This technique was commonly used by the old masters, although I don’t believe they thought of it as sharpening.

The mountains have the light blue sky immediately next to them. This is making them look darker than they are. So the actual shade in the image I’m working from appears different than the painting. I’m not trying to get an exact match, just trying to get them to stand out approximately the same as they do in the image I’m working from. This image looks different on my monitor, the painting, a print-out and I bet it looked very different in real life. I always have to adjust the relative contrast of various areas of a painting in order to get the focal point and realistic illusion just right.

This brings up a related point. I’m adding detail to the boat. My standard method is to get a colour on my brush and add it to the appropriate area. Now I take the same colour and find other places to put it on the painting. As I’m over-thinking this, it sounds a little counter-intuitive. Much of what we see is based on the colour of light falling on the object and reflections off the object. So it makes a lot of sense for similar colours to appear in various parts of an image, even though we may not be consciously aware of it. I often amalgamate various images into my paintings and the colours are often quite different. Using the same or similar colour on various parts of an image tends to pull the painting together. I often fail at this. Garden Stairs is an example of a failure, where the flowers in the lower left corner were added to the image. They have never looked quite right to me. Sea Stars was done similarly. I had four images of Siwash rock and the result was a success. As I add colours to various parts of an image they all look different. This depends on what the adjacent colour is and how it contrasts with the colour I am adding.