How do I use aspen trees in the foreground to create depth in a mountain painting?

"Autumn Attire Near Fish Creek Road"  9x12 plein air oil
“Autumn Attire Near Fish Creek Road”
9×12 plein air oil

Cover the three large aspen shapes with your fingers and see what is lost in this painting! Without the large shapes in the foreground, you lose a lot of depth and interest in the painting. Also, the warm yellow helps to contrast against the cool gray greens of the distant pines on the mountain and the gray mountains. Click on it to enlarge and notice the soft edges on the yellow foliage. Tree foliage does not have hard edges, unless you want it very close-up and to show individual leaves. Even in this case, you would want to paint most of it softened and be selective about bringing out too many hard edges.

Now that you have large shapes in the foreground, how do I get back to the background?
Now that you have large shapes in the foreground, how do I get back to the background?

The zig-zag pattern of the yellow grasses and bushes helps get from the foreground to the background. Notice how the yellows in the distant part of the zig zag are not as intense as the foreground portion. The ground is also warmer in the foreground than in the distance. Think!

“Autumn Attire Near Fish Creek Road” was juried into the Plein Air Artists Colorado exhibition at Mary Williams Fine Arts in Boulder, CO. www.marywilliamsfinearts.com

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