Part 4 – Exercise 4 “Aerial perspective”

The brief:

Aerial perspective is a device used by many landscape artists. An illusion of distance and
receding space is created in three ways:

• Controlled loss of focus (in terms of sharp delineation between different tonal areas)
and fading outlines are rendered through progressive loss of contrast into the distance.

• A loss of colour saturation, i.e. a fading out of bright, saturated colours going into the
distance towards more muted, faded shades.

• Distance can also be achieved by colour temperature. Warm colours painted in the
foreground will automatically achieve a sense of closeness against colder colours in the

Paint a simple landscape in which you exploit these three devices of aerial perspective. Which
device did you find most effective or is it necessary to combine all three to achieve the
desired effect?

The journey and the process:

I chose this sketch of an east Harris landscape to form the basis of my study for this exercise:

Part 4 - exercise 4 "Aerial perspective" - sketch (click image to enlarge)

Part 4 – exercise 4 “Aerial perspective” – sketch (click image to enlarge)









I was fascinated by the skyscape, the skyline of distant mountains, closer hills, lochan and the single-track road in with its ‘passing place’ at the foot of the brae.

Back in the studio I made a 40.6 x 50.8 cm canvas board ready with a light acrylic wash of sap green onto which I sketched out the composition using a blue-violet underpainting to help pick out the tone, form and temperature:

Part 4 - exercise 4 "Aerial perspective" - underpainting (click image to enlarge)

Part 4 – exercise 4 “Aerial perspective” – underpainting (click image to enlarge)










 The finished study:

Using Sennelier soft oil pastels I started to mark out the sky and cloud formations with blues and light greys/white; and the more distant mountains in tones of blue and field colour yellows. The near distant hills and undulations were marked with browns, greens and blues. The lochan was left as is with the background underpainting. The foreground blues, greys, greens and browns are of a slightly darker hue.

The road could maybe be a little bit darker/greyer (less blue) in tone. I wanted to make a motif of the iron gate on the left and used a fairly striking red to pick out the form. The road signs and road ‘white lines’ are striking. This is a single-track road with ‘passing places.

I could do more with this study, maybe using oil thinners and brushes on top of the oil pastels to wash out and smooth the transitions more between the landscape land masses – seeking for better controlled loss of focus, more subtle fading, and balanced colour temperature, but time is against me here.

So, all in all, this is not a ‘work in progress’ for now, but rather the finished study – “Passing places – east Harris”:

Part 4 - exercise 4 "Aerial perspective" - finished study (click image to enlarge)

Part 4 – exercise 4 “Aerial perspective” – finished study (click image to enlarge)









This painting was done, start to finish, in three days overall (with a maximum of 4 hours each day). I’m not quite sure about the relevance of this bit of information (good or bad).

Part 4 Exercise 4 – aerial perspective  ← click the link to download a .pdf version of this page

Stuart Brownlee – 512319

21st July, 2014