Creating DEPTH and SPACE in your work

With the examples below I will illustrate simple ways to create depth and spatial reality in your paintings/drawings. Watch for them in your composition planning, avoid them while working, or revise them in existing works.

  • A graphic pattern tends to create a flattened space.
    Graphic = Bold outlines and hard edges on everything, even areas of color, no texture or detail difference.
  • Separate objects unrelated or not touching “floating” lessen the feeling of space/distance.
  • Similar treatment of the same objects in the distance & foreground flatten the space.
  • Ensure that background or distant “pattern” (waves, grass, mountains, leaves, clouds etc) continue right up to the edges and appear to continue “behind” the object. No gaps or halos.
  • Use the Negative space effectively with contrast to foreground objects (colour & value)
    ie: Light against dark, warm against cool.

a GRAPHIC pattern tends to create a flattened space.

Foreground objects :  (“More” than the background objects)
More details / More surface texture / More clearly defined edges   / More contrast (colour & value) More saturated color / deeper shadows / more complex shapes /

Background objects: (“Less” than the foreground objects)
Less detail / less surface texture / softer edges & blends / greyed, pale or less saturated color
Less information in general – softer shadows, simple shapes, blends / deepen Negative space with contrast to foreground objects (colour & value)

Create a RELATIONSHIP between objects:
Separate objects unrelated or not touching “floating” lessen the feeling of space/distance.

Making sure to maintain correct scale – move, or extend objects,
or lower background spaces to place them behind the foreground objects.
ie: grass in front of fence, fence in front of barn/cows, tree behind barn, trees above forest,
forest above distant hill, hill in front of mountains, clouds behind mountains.


Close up, florals or still life – place other objects “touching” or overlapping.
Use the negative space to add objects or background information of pattern and contrast.

ALWAYS make very sure the structural elements are continued consistently. Horizon lines, distant sky or coast lines, walls, surfaces, roads, buildings etc…or even the edge of a vase (with many flowers) or bowl (full of fruit) Although only small portions of the object/distance show – it MUST appear to continue behind and come out again in the right (structural) place.

 

Make sure that background or distant “pattern” (waves, grass, mountains, leaves, clouds etc) and negative fills continue right up to the edges and appear to continue “behind” the object. No gaps or halos.
Similar treatment of the same objects in the distance & foreground flatten the space.
Equally bold outlines and hard edges on everything, even areas of color, no texture or detail difference also flatten the space and reduce the feeling of distance.