More ways to lead the eye in an aspen tree painting

 

I decided to use this painting as an example because I have some very exciting news about it. “Autumn’s Peak at Wild Basin” just won Best of Show in the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters Centennial Celebration Plein Air Fine Art Show in Rocky Mountain National Park. Part of the proceeds from the sales (and this one sold minutes before the opening reception began!) benefit the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. I am so honored to have won this! So…I must  have done something right here, and let’s discuss: There is a small log on the left, partially buried by grass, that helps as a lead-in (click on image to enlarge). Then when you get to the big aspen, the bright foliage behind it (which is brighter than the foliage behind the aspen trees on the left) curves from right to left and almost connects you to the foliage on the left, which completes an “arc” and leads up the two aspen trees on the left. Then, at the top, you are stopped by more foliage, which almost connects with foliage from the “main actor” aspen on the right and has you look at it again. You come back down it and hopefully the arc leads you around again (instead of leading you out of the picture and on to the next painting)!!!

"Autumn's Peak at Wild Basin"  Plein Air Oil  12x9
“Autumn’s Peak at Wild Basin” Plein Air Oil 12×9
How to plan leading the eye around the painting
How to plan leading the eye around the painting

Many times in my preliminary sketch, I’ll use arrows to remind me how I want to lead the eye around. Also, as in the above foliage, things don’t have to actually connect – they can almost connect, as in this painting, and the eye automatically connects them! Hope you’ve enjoyed, and please feel free to tell your friends about my blog!

How do I lead the eye into the painting?

Here I rearranged the logs while painting this on location. The bottom one “swoops” you right into the picture and immediately points you to the major aspen. Then the log to the left of the “main star” aspen allows your eye to travel to the group of aspens to the left, and the  log on the extreme left points you back in to the picture. Notice how the log on the left is highlighted nearest the aspens and more “lost” as it goes out of the painting for less contrast there.

"End of Summer Greens - Endo Valley" 11x14 Oil has an obvious lead-in.

“End of Summer Greens – Endo Valley” 11×14 Plein Air Oil

Plan how to lead the eye into the painting!
Plan how to lead the eye into the painting!

I see a lot of paintings where students have set up a “roadblock” to the eye instead of planning how to lead into and around the painting. Think of a zig-zag or S-curve (I think these are the two easiest ways) and set it up yourself, even if it isn’t already there, which it probably won’t be. Next blog will explore other ways to lead into and around the painting. Hope you have enjoyed my blog, and, remember that you can click on the painting to enlarge it.