Tuesday, October 22

Capture Viewers' Interest with Contrast

Behind Couthouse Square
Acrylic on Canvas panel
6 x 8 in/15.2 x 20.3 cm
Copyright 2013
I did not paint today's image en plein air, which would have been nice, I suppose, except that I would have been painting on a cold, windy afternoon on a busy street with traffic whizzing behind me.

For me to paint en plein air, it has to be a near-perfect outdoor environment, which is rarely the case. That means moderate temperatures, comfortable humidity levels, preferably sunny, and no bugs. As I said, rarely the case, but I live in hope.

But I digress. I painted this from a pretty good reference photo I took, which allowed me the artistic license to make a few changes.

I edited several items from the scene, such as a scrawny, misshapen tree that looked as if it were dead and didn't add a thing to the motif, in addition to a trash bin in the foreground.

I also added greater contrast of value and color than appeared in the photo in order liven up the buildings, which are the stars of this painting. I darkened the areas in shadow and lightened the sun-lit sides of the buildings.

To capture viewers' interest, nothing draws you into a painting and keeps your interest more than contrast in my opinion. That change in value and color is why people keep looking.

Notice how successful painters use contrast in their work. Then use it wisely, sparingly, and in just the right places in your own paintings.

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