Why Learn Realism?

Most of the world’s greatest artists were trained in the art of realistic rendering. There’s a good reason for that: If you have the skills to paint realistically, if you can mix any color you want, and create the effects you desire, then you can paint ANYTHING whether it’s realistic or not.


The basis of realism is acute observation. It is analyzing what you’re looking at, asking yourself why things look the way they do, and coming up with answers. Example? Why are distant mountains purple? Why are tropical lagoons aqua green? Why is the midday sky lighter below and darker above?


Here are some answers I came up with:


  • Mountains look purplish sometimes because moisture particles in the air reflect the surrounding sky, which in most cases is not just blue but bluish purple. In the morning, the air is especially full of moisture particles because the sun is warming the dew produced in the coolness of the night before. The farther a mountain is from us, the more colored moisture particles are between us and the mountain. That is why mountains are more sky-colored, or purpler as they get farther away.


  • Tropical lagoons with sandy bottoms produce aqua green water because the sand color is generally whitish-yellow and the sky is generally blue. And these colors: yellow, white, and blue come together in the water to make aqua green.


Are these explanations scientifically correct? I don’t actually know. But these are the answers I came up with and they make sense to me. The correctness of the answers you come up with is not as important as the process it takes to achieve the answers.


So why is the sky lighter below and darker above? At the moment I have no idea. I just thought of it as I was writing this. You can bet I’ll be trying to figure out the answer starting now. Maybe you already know it. In your quest to figure it out, you will be seeing the world through the eyes of an artist.

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