How to Paint a Landscape Background in Your Figure Painting

William Bouguereau, was a 19th Century French Academic painter. His technique was the zenith point of representational painting. He was able to catch the very nuances of light shifts and color changes to create breathtaking, life-like figure paintings.  Mr. Bouguereau’s realism is unsurpassed, before or since, in all of art history. With that being said, let’s learn from the best, just how do we paint the landscape as a background to our figure paintings?

Bouguereau’s work, “Breton Brother and Sister“, is the perfect example of a very effective way of using the landscape to create a background in a work of art. Notice that in this piece, the stars of the painting are the two figures in the foreground. Their colors are well saturated and vivid with a full dynamic range of values. Their warm skin tones and red skirt leap out of the painting. Light and dark tones are next to one another to attract your attention.

The background, or “supporting actor”,  is much more muted with an abbreviated range of values. The colors of the foliage are less saturated and cooler in temperature.  All of these elements push the landscape much further into space while pushing the figures even closer to us.  Everything is done intentionally; much as a movie director composes a scene in a film.

Remember that the background needs to be painted as a backdrop and never to compete with your figures. Keep this in mind next time you work on your figure painting’s composition.

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What is the best Air Pressure for Airbrush?

The Best PSI or Air Pressure Revealed

Since I have been blogging and posting videos on YouTube I have been asked this question a lot. It has always been a big mystery.  Some airbrush artists say 15 PSI while others say over 45 PSI. That is quite a disparity!  I was even more confused than when I started my quest for the best PSI, years ago.  I am going to share my own answer from what I have learned with the countless hours of painting in airbrush and much experimentation.

If you are not airbrushing t-shirts, you always want to reduce your paint to the consistency of skim milk or thinner (ink is already perfect out of the bottle). Since you are working with thin paint or ink, set the PSI on your compressor to 30 PSI. This will help you if you need to shoot out a rich opaque like white.

Make sure that you have some kind of micro adjustment valve on your airbrush. With the MAC valve you will be able to adjust the air pressure at the airbrush that works best with your paint and the amount of detail you are desiring.

Remember to always try and find the sweet spot, fine tune the MAC valve while you are working and don’t worry too much about the exact PSI. If your paint or ink is spidering, lower the air pressure on the MAC valve or increase the airbrush’s distance from the surface. Play around with it. Much is to be learned through experimentation.

If you follow my advice, you won’t need to worry about PSI again. If you are working with t-shirts, that is a different story.