In this detail of the photo above, the layers of leaves compress into a jumble of shapes. The blue sky bleaches to white and burns out the openings of the leaves.
Such a scene would look different to an observer. With our stereoscopic vision, our focal accommodation to depth, and our incredible tolerance of differences in brightness, our eyes interpret the scene with far more nuance. Let's see what we can learn by looking at painters who specialized in this very challenging subject.
Look at the warm shadow side of that tree in the center right, catching reflected light from the ground. Shishkin offers some detail on the bark of that tree. Just to the left of that, he uses soft painterly suggestion to create the illusion of further depth, as he does with the broad handling of the young saplings at the lower right. Things can move in and out of focus, even in relatively distant forms.
Tomorrow we'll look at the secrets of another master of foliage and forest interiors: Peder Mork Mønsted.
Thanks to Heritage Auctions and Tim Adkins for the art images.
Photo is from the University of Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture
Posts so far in the foliage series: