Further into the Blue Yonder…

Folks, I want to offer a correction to my last post about skies . . .

As I was returning home this evening from a niece’s graduation party, and looking at the beautiful sky and trees in the valley I was driving through, I realized may have mislead some of you regarding the rate at which a blue sky transitions from a greenish-blue to a reddish blue. It’s important to understand that if we want to achieve a naturalistic effect in our painting, that we don’t introduce the red in too abruptly.

And I think my lone tree against the sky in my last post may have implied that. So here is is again for the purpose of comparison:

Same sky, same tree…

By simply changing the scale of the same tree (…and nothing else about the sky!) I can completely alter the transition we see between green and red in the sky, and make the scene more convincing. Again, the only thing which has changed in the illustration below is the scale of the tree, not the sky. Now that the tree is smaller you sense you are looking at a higher swatch of sky, which makes the transition from greenish blue to a reddish blue more believable.

Same sky, smaller tree…

And just to further illustrate, next I have added an assortment of ‘trees’ and bushes’ cloned from the first to further strengthen the illusion. I know I am being redundant by repeating this, but I feel it is important: the only thing which has changed in any of these three illustrations are the trees!  Nothing about the sky has been modified. All I’ve done with the supplemental greenery is generate a stronger sense of a ground plane and added some atmospheric perspective in the farthest vegetation – and voila! A credible world is born. With a credible sky. The same dang sky.

Same Sky, manipulated trees…

Of course, it can be a little more taxing to accomplish this in paint, but not really if you already grasp the principle. Heck, I wouldn’t be able to make it happen on the computer unless I had first directly observed it in nature. So in the end, that’s the important thing. Go outside and look at what you want to paint.

After all, that’s what plein air painting is about, right?

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