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Exception to the Rule - Perspectives No. 362

Exception to the Rule

Perspectives No. 362

February Sunlight, John F. Carlson
February Sunlight (date unknown)                                                  John F Carlson

   The snowstorm that draped the Midwest last weekend gave us that wonderful opportunity to paint the exception to John F. Carlson's simple system of values called the Theory of Angles. (See Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting.)

   It is helpful to understand some important and consistent principles that inform the values in a landscape. An understanding of what Carlson calls “the four prime planes of the landscape” will help the artist to be authentic to the scene they are experiencing and ultimately to be able to add their artistry to a painting beyond what may be literally seen in the landscape.

   It’s a simple theory, but one that forms a strong foundation beneath any landscape painting:  1. the arch of the sky is the plane from which the source of light is coming; 2. that light is most directly hitting the flat plane of the ground below it; 3. those objects with slanting planes (mountains, etc.) are receiving more light than the direct verticals and less than the horizontals; and, 4. objects which stand vertically (such as trees) are receiving the least direct light from above. The less light an object receives, the darker it will be in value. Using this theory, Carlson simplifies the landscape into four distinct values: light, dark, half-light and half-dark.

Carlson's Four Value Planes

    The source of light, the sky, is almost always the lightest value, even under overcast conditions, but today's sun-bright sky and snowy landscape proved the exception. Snow creates the unusual condition of sometimes making the ground lighter than the sky. This reversal of values provides a wonderful opportunity to paint even a familiar subject in a whole new light. Don't miss it!

Photograph of the Snowy Landscape Behind the Studio
Photograph of the Snowy Landscape Behind Our Studio with Lighter Ground than Sky




Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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Filled with inspirational examples by the masters of nightime painting, this little book is sure to fire up your creative energies. Never tried painting at night? We show you how it's done with a step-by-step-oil demo and a tale of night painting in the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes is a 7 x 7" PDF download with 40 pages of text and images. It includes a gallery of paintings by masters of the nocturne, information to inspire and encourage you in your plein air nocturne painting, an illustrated step-by-step demo and tips for working in pastel and oil. Also available in a softcover edition. Check out the tools and other products that we use in our own art and travels in The Artist's Road Store. We only offer things for sale that we enthusiastically believe in.

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About Us

Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
We are artists, authors and teachers with over 40 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals.  You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
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 Hulsey Trusty Studios

We are also regular contributors to the Plein Air blog at Artist Daily.

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