Thursday, August 4, 2011

Look to the Horizon

From the beginning of landscape painting there has always been one important lesson: The use of the horizon line to create interest and a focal point! This will be the main point of this lesson and discussion. I've decided to add the lesson right into the discussion of the horizon line, so lets start with what we need:

"Sorel, from Government House", 1821, Charles Ramus Forrest
Our tools used today are simply a pencil, paper and pencil crayons. I wanted to show you that the most basic of  tools can be used to create art. You don't need paints, or anything fancy, just pencil and paper will always work. I also apologize for the crappy camera work today, it's hard to photograph pencil on paper (especially at night when I actually get a chance to make the works), so I've done my best. (Hopefully I'll get my scanner set up soon so that I can scan the images as I make them instead)

My supplies!
What is a Horizon Line?? Well, simply put it's the line (or curve) where the sky meets the land... now this isn't always where the sky actually touches the land. For example, if you are looking at a painting with mountains the horizon line is usually below the mountain. So think of it this way, it is the place where you can create an imaginary straight line that goes across the canvas dividing land from sky. (I know I know, sounds complicated).

So let's look at our example above by Charles Forrest. I'm using this example to show you how long people have been using this concept... heck it was even used before Canada was Canada lol. In our example Charles places the invisible line just below the houses and across the top of the water. (In this example the line isn't really all that invisible). So let's create!

Horizon line is in Dark Green!
I'm my image I decided to place my horizon line high up on the paper. This creates an image with a lot of ground... or a LANDscape. I know, you are think... well duh! But think of it this way... if I was making sea under the horizon line it would be a SEAscape. If the horizon line was closer to the bottom of the page then it would be a SKYscape. Do you get the idea??

Large Grass at the bottom (you can quite see the colour variations in the land part)
So our land will be the main focus on this image. I've decided to colour it with a variety of greens, a little brown and some yellow for variation. When colouring this image I am continuing to make my marks horizontal across the page. This it so that my land doesn't look like it's falling (if you curve or slope your marks your eye will make the image feel like it's on a hill).

Grassy plains with a house added (See how tiny it is compared to the grass)
I've decided to keep this image simple so you get the idea of the impact of a horizon line. I've simply added some grass to the bottom and a house and trees at the top. Now you notice the grass is quite a bit bigger than the trees and house?? Well, this is all part of the joys of perspective. (I will go further into perspective in another lesson) In general perspective states... closer things are bigger where as things far away seem small.

Final product... nothing too fancy today!
So for now, have fun trying out different horizon lines. Try low placement, high placement. You will notice, the more you play with this idea and look at other works, that we never put our horizon line in the middle! Why? Because, high and low create interest for the eye (or as my mom says, "the middle is boring"). Try a few in the middle and you will notice that the image seems stale or missing something (most of the time, there are always exceptions).

So have fun Creating!

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