“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh
The foreground of a painting acts as an invitation to allow the eye to move comfortably to the focal point.
In a way, it is a promise that the viewer will enjoy the journey. An inviting foreground is like an eye-catching welcome mat against a front door. It makes one eager to ring the bell, gain entry, and explore the internal spaces.
If the foreground is out of balance or lacks harmony with the other planes in the image it can be compared to a home lacking curb appeal. If there is too much clutter upfront the viewer can get lost in the distractions and lose interest before discovering your intended feature of the painting.
Two Brights and One Dull
When choosing the color hues for this first visual field two bright colors and one dull color are blended, adding a little white or black (if needed) to match your reference scrap. This process ensures the foreground has the necessary intensity.
The foreground color choices are richer in value and intensity than the middle ground or background. The percentage of detail increases, too. Additional warmth can act as an invitation. Another option is even larger brushstrokes to suggest to the viewer’s eye the foreground plane is closer.
Too much detail in the foreground can also distract the eye from establishing an enticing relationship with the focal point.
Increasing Color Values in the Foreground
We previously learned the color’s scale percentages in the background are best between 20 and 35. In the middle ground, the range is between 40 and 55. In the foreground, we step up the percentages between 45 to 70 percent.
Some compositions may defer from the suggested values. They could be as much as 100 or as little as 10 percent which depends on the reference scrap.
Layering the Foreground
The painting’s foreground usually includes natural elements like tree mounds and roots, rocks and boulders, textured soil, varied grass mounds, water, natural vegetation like weeds, grasses, and flowers. Sometimes a man-made element like a swing, bench, or bicycle is added for interest as long as it does not take away from the focal point.
In our next post in this series, you will learn how to lay down a base foreground foundation to give the impression of texture, color harmony, shadow, and atmospheric depth. After this step, additional layers of detail bring the foreground to life.
Be sure and check back soon for our next tutorial lesson.
Table of Contents for the Perfect Palette Series
- The Many Hues of Color
- Best Palette Colors to Build Depth
- The Double Primary Palette
- Painting Blue and Cloudy Skies
- Mixing Colors for Painting the Background
- Painting Mountains
- How the Middle Ground Creates Harmony
- Stepping Into the Foreground
- Laying Down Foreground Foundations: Rocks, Tree Mounds, etc.