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Spring Landscape by Arthur Wesley Dow


Today’s painting inspiration is Spring Landscape by Arthur Wesley Dow.

Arthur Wesley Dow, Spring Landscape, 1892
Arthur Wesley Dow, Spring Landscape, 1892

Some key observations:

  • There’s a pleasant contrast between the intricate trees and the flat color shapes of the greenery, sky, and path. Notice how the trees inject clarity into the painting and command attention. They also give context to the flat color shapes. It’s similar to Childe Hassam’s Peach Blossoms-Villiers-le-Bel and my painting, Minnippi.
Childe Hassam, Peach Blossoms—Villiers-le-Bel, 1887-89
Childe Hassam, Peach Blossoms—Villiers-le-Bel, 1887-89
Dan Scott, Minnippi, 2021, 700W
Dan Scott, Minnippi, 2021
  • This is a great demonstration of one-point perspective. Notice how the lines of the path converge towards a vanishing point in the distance.
  • There are several subtle but important details: the house, the flowers, the highlights and shadows on the tree branches, stairs, and fence posts. These details don’t jump out at you; rather, they reveal themselves only after the painting has caught your attention. It’s a case of, the more you look, the more you see.
  • Parts of the trees shoot up across the sky. This creates a link between the sky and land and also adds a point of sharp contrast (dark trees across the light sky).
  • The line that separates the sky and land is a strong diagonal that anchors the painting. It also creates a perpendicular relationship with the other strong long: the path.
  • The house, stairs, and path are rigid and geometric. They play well against nature’s organic shapes and lines.

If you want to learn more about master paintings like this, you might be interested in Composition Breakdown.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

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