View Full Version : About Mountains

12-19-2013, 02:54 PM
I have not been around in awhile. I realize that I have learned more from you guys than I can on my own. I have an easy question....I hope. It has to do with painting mountains and rivers or large bodies of water. I believe that somewhere I read that you do not want to create the illusion of "floating mountains". Do I have that right and then how do you avoid floating mountains?

12-19-2013, 03:14 PM
Hi, Donna. I'm not altogether clear on what you mean by "floating", but this might help : Improve Your Pastel Painting: Mountains & Lakes with Arnold Lowrey (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K7kKu0V5m-A&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DK7kKu0V5m-A)

And here is Deborah Secor's chapter on painting mountains : http://landscapesinpastel.blogspot.com/2010/03/chapter-six-mountains.html

Hope this helps.


12-19-2013, 03:26 PM
Hi Jan. I am not sure what I mean by that either. It seems to me that a while back I painted a scene and posted it here and someone commented that the mountains looked like they were floating. I cannot find that comment and did some searches. I am now working on another view of the Columbia River with mountains and was thinking about that comment.

I guess I thought this was a common subject???

12-19-2013, 05:04 PM
This is probably the thread you are thinking of


12-19-2013, 06:08 PM
Thank you Mike. That is it. Oh, what an awful painting.....but the advice was great. Here is what Kathryn Wilson had to say.

...I am not sure what you mean about floating above the water...

It's hard to explain ... just that where the land and the water meet, if you don't ground the land, it appears to float above the water. Deeper colors in the water perhaps where it meets the shore?

12-20-2013, 05:40 AM
In real life, mountains and islands often do look like they float, especially when the water and the sky are close in value and colour.

But what works in reality doesn't always work in a painting, so we may have to change that, to "ground" the mountain/island. As well as bringing darker colours down into the water, the edge between water and land should not be a hard one.

12-20-2013, 09:36 AM
Generally speaking, I have only seen "floating" with much smaller objects - rocks or clumps of vegetation - in water. As has been mentioned, usually the problem happens when there isn't some sort of darker value indicated where object meets water. I honestly don't see any floating mountains in the thread indicated.


Donna T
12-20-2013, 09:57 AM
Hi Donna! That is not an awful painting at all! I wonder if the floating effect is more to do with the dark edges that surround the base of the mountain - they could be interpreted as the shadow from the shape above, as if the mountain/hill is hovering over the water. Would it work to create a landslide here and there to interrupt that dark band and connect land to water? Just a thought - you have much more experience with mountains than I ever will!

12-20-2013, 11:46 AM
Hello Don, Charlie! And Donna,
Yes, this is exactly what I wanted to know. At one of the workshops I attended the artist suggested bringing reflection down into the water even if you did not see reflection, and so that is what I have been doing. That would be the darker color along a shoreline.

Here in the Columbia Gorge where we get a constant wind we often do not see reflection and I was asked to critique a painting for a friend. I was struck by her floating mountains. I knew that there was a rule or suggested tool. The shoreline of my friends painting also did not have a single lost or found idea.

Thanks for the help, I know that critique helps both painters, the one giving the critique and the one receiving.