Here are a few examples of structure in a painting. Notice that the gate of the arbor recedes back from the front archway. I have painted it a different color (greener) compared to the pure color of the archway (bluer and purer in color which makes it come forward). I have organized my lights and my darks so they are consistent. The trees in the distance recede because they are neutral, have less contrast and are cooler. Look at the window to the right. I have painted it in sunlight and shadow so it gives the illusion of being in light. If I had painted the panes in light as dark as I saw them, the illusion of light on the side of the building would not be as strong. Sometimes I have to paint what I know, not what I see. This comes from years of painting on location and developing a good painting memory.
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