Foreground, Middle Ground, Background

“The Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Can you identify the foreground, middle ground and background in this painting?

Here’s an Art concept that applies to many 2D projects from still lifes to landscapes. You can teach and/or review it no matter what medium you’re working in. This is the spatial concept of foreground, middle ground and background.

The foreground refers to the area closest to the viewer, which will almost always be in the lower section of your picture. This area will contain the most detail and brightest colors. Detail and color intensity will both diminish as you move away from the viewer and toward the background, further up the picture plane, closest to the horizon. This dulling of color and decreasing of detail creates the effect of “atmospheric perspective”.

You can start explaining these basics of composition to students as early as Kindergarten and keep reviewing and reteaching them every year. Composition is one of our “bread and butter” concepts as artists and we can use it to our advantage when we understand it and skillfully apply it!

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