Just over the Helshoogte pass outside Stellenbosch one is greeted with a stunning panorama of the Drakenstein mountains, with the quaint settlement of Pniel below, and the famous Boschendal estate in the distance towards Franschhoek.    I have painted different versions of this scene in all mediums, and the ever-changing energies of the panorama invite the subject to be re-visited by the artist time after time.

It is a good scene on which to hone what I call the perspective / distance tools.    On my courses I urge participants to make use of the following check-list of 5 factors in respect of distance illusion:

1. Linear perspective.   Use this wherever possible.   See how the receding railway-line effect of the contours    adds to the illusion of depth....
2. Size perspective.    Big things come forward, small things go back. Big trees and shapes in the front, small     trees and shapes in the distance.
3. Over-lapping techniques.    The creation of staccato notes in the landscape at prominent selected positions     helps to push-back the subservient shape. Notice how the figures walking along the road push the
    middle-distance fields back.
4. Tonal perspective.    Softer, quieter tones go back, whilst the harsher and sharper stronger tones come     forward.
5. Aerial perspective.    Cool colours go back, whilst warmer colours come forward

Test these 5 points against this, and any other, painting. Keep them at the end of your fingertips to apply in your painting when necessary.

Copyright 2003 iTDesign International.