When you hear the term “mood” used to describe a fine art painting most often (at least for me) I visualize a grey, stormy emotional scene. Illustrators on the other hand always have to create a mood in order for their art director to please the client. This mood will sell the intended product.
But as fine artists we can choose the mood and decide how to execute it. We are in full control of the outcome. No art director hounding us at all. Creating mood can be achieved many different ways. For example: take a mountain scene you may have painted many times. But imagine the mood you could create if a quarter of the mountain was encased with fog or partially covered by a cloud. Or what if you played up a strong light source reflecting bright onto one side of the mountain or down low near the base each of these details would create a completely different mood.
What if your painting’s foreground was in full light or in complete shadow this would make the background sing even more. If the painting has an architectural structure what if appeared in half shadow. If you start experimenting with your ideas while keeping in mind the overall design so you don’t end up with chaos the possibilities could be endless. Those average reference photos could be made into exciting, mood driven, finished works.
The point here is to experiment and don’t always stick to the story portrayed in your reference. Create your own. Nature shows itself in many forms. There is no such thing as a wrong light source, only a misplaced light source in relationship to the overall design. Use technology like Photoshop to start putting ideas into action. I will tend to push and pull values and colors around on my computer before I even touch it with the brush if I am unsure of the outcome. You may have watched videos I have posted on my blog where I show you endless possibilities you can achieve while using Photoshop. Here is a great video post where I demonstrate how to play with shadow on shapes all while being on my computer.
If you are technically challenged, no problem. All of this can be done using pencil and paper. Once you feel and see you are in control of your own paintings mood the possibilities will hopefully excite you to be adventurous and create something new. These unknown paths I believe are how we grow as artists. So enjoy the journey!