Reality is full of low contrast. As artists we are generally pushed toward hi-contrast but I believe that much of what we see is low-contrast. When a painting starts to jump off the canvas it’s often when I’ve painted a low contrast area. Sometimes it’s after painting the highlights but I think that is a different process. Certainly highlights can trigger the reality illusion but I think that’s usually in association with low contrast areas.
I’m running a test at the moment with a painting that has a great deal of low-contrast area, at least the low-contrast area is obvious. The reality-illusion was just triggered with a shadow area that is relatively low-contrast hence this post. I’m going to continue working on low-contrast areas to see if it continues.
There have been several times that I’ve been surprised with the reality-illusion after painting backgrounds. The backgrounds were low contrast and really just area fill-ins. I didn’t give any real weight or significance to the area, nevertheless it triggered the reality-illusion. I’ve posted before about the reality-illusion and how it probably has something to do with the way we view reality. If the illusion happens when the painting starts to match our inner reality construct, then if it happens when the painting is composed mostly of low-contrast then perhaps reality is composed mostly of low-contrast.
As an artist if this illusion is my goal then I should be focusing on low contrast areas; or at least giving them equal time.
An added note with this image is that the perspective is off. I drew it on canvas and didn’t bother much with perspective since I could fix it later. I’ve decided to leave it as is. I always want the painting to be obviously a painting and not too realistic. So does the reality-illusion work when perspective is off? I think it will.