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Luminism: An American Art Style

Romantic Luminism: A bright spot in the world of art!

By Stefan Baumann
Example of Romantic Luminism by Stefan Baumann

Art collectors and galleries have classified my work as Romantic Luminism. This painting style is truly American characterized by including the effect of light in a landscape using aerial perspective (how atmospheric conditions influence our perception of objects in the distance.) They have said that I have the ability to focus light in my paintings in ways that captures the mood and splendor of the landscape and draws the viewer into the essence of the painting. I have used this method in my painting for years. I include a center of interest using the luminosity of sunlight blended with the softness of tone, and concealing some of my brush strokes to allow the subtle effects of light to infuse the local color of the subject.

Modern painters attempt to create paintings that impress the viewers with clever uses of the brush. Most paintings of these paintings look the same, with one stroke here and a stroke there, with palette colors that define the painting rather than effectively using the power of light in their work. These artists produce boring work that lacks inspiration and the feeling of life in their work. Remember, it is not what you do, but how well you do it. Spend some time everyday learning more ways to bring your paintings to life.

Creating Luminism in your paintings

If you want to create a luminous effect in you painting, key the painting to cool colors and darker values, The area of light is best positioned within the middle third portion of your canvas, or it can be anywhere in your painting as long as the viewer clearly focuses on the that spot of light. This spot should be warm and bright with paint applied thickly but not overworked. Direct all the detail and contrast close to the light but try not to highlight anything other than your focal point.

Here is an exercise to “see” differently. When you go for a walk or drive, look for the light around you, not the objects. Try not to see forms but focus only on the intensity of the infusion of light around you. Isolate the light that is the central focal point, and dull all other light by at least five values. This understanding of “seeing” will increase your ability to bring an infusion of light into your paintings. It may take some time to learn, but it will make a dramatic difference in your work.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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There is so much happening at The Grand View Ranch; spring is coming and we are introducing a completely new painting on-location workshop that promises an experience that will inspire and change the way you paint forever. Go to for more information.


The Grand View will air nationally on the PBS “Create” Station on February 20. Check your local PBS listings for the schedule of twenty episodes featuring yours truly painting live on location in twenty different National Parks. It is Amazing! you can also get more information at:

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