Painting Is Called "Passing Storm Essay

Pages: 6 (1692 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

¶ … painting is called "Passing Storm over the Sierra Nevadas" and was painted in 1870 by Albert Bierstadt. It is located in the American Art section of the San Antonio Museum of Art. The painting was chosen because of several different reasons. First of all, the artist's capacity to paint the natural landscape is impressive and very vivid, to the degree to which the viewer can almost feel himself present in the painting. On the other hand, the use of light and darkness in the painting attracts the viewer's attention, especially the way that the light reappears after the storm. Finally, the overall composition is very well balanced and worth paying attention.

Form and content interpretation


The first observation worth making is that the painting discussed is exclusively a landscape painting: there are no human characters, which will influence some of the characteristics of the picture. The picture presents the Sierra Nevada in a moment of the day between storm and sun, which allows the painter, as will be shown below, to successfully combine light and darkness in parts of his painting. The lake and water cover a third of the painting, mostly its lower half (or lower left hand corner), with the forest and mountain/sky covering the other two thirds.

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The painting seems to be thus divided into three relatively uniform and equal shapes, with their intersection somewhere at the end of the tip of the forest, towards the left from the center of the painting. This division is most likely a symbolical one in that the painter addresses the three elements of water (the lake), earth (the land) and air (the mountain and the sky). The three different areas are also relatively well separated. For example, the lake has clearly drawn shores, while the line of the forest is similarly well emphasized.

Essay on Painting Is Called "Passing Storm Over the Assignment

The lines in the painting are interestingly conceived. The painter uses curved lines to paint the shores and the margins of the lake, as well as parts of the forest. In fact, there seems to be a set of curved, concentric lines, that can be seen as the shore in the lower part of the painting, along with several similar lines on the shore on the sand and continuing into the lake.

This leads the discussion on the direction of the lines. These are rather horizontal, as one can see from the line of the shore (both the one in the lower part of the painting and the one marking the end of the lake towards the half of the painting are horizontal and almost parallel), as well as from the line of the forest, also parallel to the lines of the shore and horizontal. The horizontal lines tend to emphasize the calmness that follows the storm, a quiet and stable image that followed the bad weather.

On the other hand, the mountain is drawn with almost vertical lines, thus imposing on the rest of the painting. It is almost as if the mountain dominates the other elements of the painting, even if, compared to the lake and the forest, it is the part of the landscape which is least emphasized and is painted almost exclusively in transparent, white colors. As it will be explained later on, in the content subchapter, the mountain seems to be an intermediary between the skies and the land, but also between the light and the darker elements below. It is the mountain that seems the common denominator between things, as it is painted here, but also the one connected different elements.

The separation in the painting continues when it comes to the colors used as well. This time, it is a half-half mixture, split almost evenly along the middle of the painting. In the upper half, the painter uses lighter colors, to describe the mountain, the sky and the new light that appears after the storm. In the lower part of the painting, the forest and lake are painted in much darker colors, some of the nuances almost blackened (dark green or dark blue) or at least very dark.

Further discussing the colors in the painting, one notices that the painting is primarily formed of two colors, one primary and one secondary, with small additions of orange to paint the sand in the lower right corner of the picture. The primary color is blue and it is used to paint the sky and the mountain. The secondary color is green, used to paint the forest. It is difficult to say what the color the lake appears in. In the previous paragraph, it as been mentioned as dark blue, but it is a blue with certainly emphasized nuances of dark green, almost marine.

This brings the discussion towards what is perhaps the most interesting aspect in the painting: the combination of light and darkness and the contrast between the two main shades used. It is generally advisable for contrast to be located in a particular part of the painting rather than throughout the entire picture and this is a rule that the artist certainly abides by. The most contrast is achieved exactly in the middle of the painting, where the light from the hole in the clouds and the light from the mountain, as it is depicted here, meets with the dark forest. It is very important that this is thus depicted: the viewer is immediately drawn to that area of contrast in the middle of the painting.

Another element worth mentioning is the reflection of the forest into the lake. It is interesting how only the forest, not the mountain behind it, is reflected into the lake. Realistically, the viewer would feel that the reflection would also need to include the mountain, but the painter chooses not to. Perhaps this is to emphasize once again the bond between the forest and the lake, a bond that is expressed through several common approaches, such as similar nuances of colors.

II.2. Content

The most important way to convey meaning to this painting is given by the light vs. dark contrast that the artist uses as the main theme here. There are several meanings to be derived from this. First of all, it is the calmness that comes into the nature after a storm. Despite the lack of human beings in this painting, it is clear that this is a message that passes over the natural perspective and into the human dimension. In the relationships between individuals, calmness does indeed come after rage and it is often just like the painting that Bierstadt has created here.

On the other hand, the contrasts are also very clearly separated, with light in the upper half of the painting and darker colors in the lower part of the painting. It is difficult to interpret this message, but it most likely refers to the fact that opposites and contrasting elements very seldom combine. Again, this can be seen as passing over into the human dimension.

The light that penetrates the painting from the top is also important and interpretable. It can be seen as a divine light, pouring down over the forests and lakes, all elements of the Earth. It can simply be light without which life cannot exist on this Earth. It is also important to look at the way the mountain seems to pass down this light, as an almighty negotiator and mediator.

Without all these philosophical interpretations, it is important to see this painting as the artist's manifestation of joy as to how the wild, untouched nature can look. There is nothing as supreme as this landscape that has not been touched by humans and, as such, has not been altered by them. It is an expression of the most beautiful type of art, one which encompasses all the noble qualities of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Painting Is Called "Passing Storm" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Painting Is Called "Passing Storm.  (2009, August 5).  Retrieved February 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Painting Is Called "Passing Storm."  5 August 2009.  Web.  25 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Painting Is Called "Passing Storm."  August 5, 2009.  Accessed February 25, 2021.