Landscape Painting Tips
After the last post Landscape painting tutorial, I thought I’d show you a few more studies that I’ve done recently to get you inspired. I’ll also offer a few suggestions on specific issues in landscape painting. With summer coming, it’s a great time to get outside to paint!
In these studies, I’m using a very simple color palette that consists of:
- cadmium red light
- cadmium yellow
- lemon yellow
- yellow ocher
- titanium white
- ultramarine blue
- cerulean blue
- burnt umber
This palette works extremely well, and you can mix an extensive range of greens with it. I suggest that you practice mixing a variety of cool and warm greens to get a feel for it. There are no strict rules for color mixing. It is best to observe what you see and respond. Nevertheless, I’ll give you a few tips to help get you started.
While I’m using oil paints, you can use the same palette in acrylic. Try to consistently set up your palette in the same way. That way, it will become second nature, your brush will know where to go, and you’ll be able to easily find the color you’re looking for.
Medium & Surface
For a painting medium, I’m using a 50/50 mix of odorless solvent (taltine) and linseed oil, with a few blobs of liquin mixed in (this isn’t necessary but it helps speed up the drying time). Add more or less oil depending on how glossy you want the final product to be.
These paintings are done on masonite panels. In some, I’ve used a colored ground, whereas in others I started with a white surface. I generally use acrylics to paint the ground since they dry faster.
Direction is important for painting reflections in water. Generally, when painting water, it looks most realistic if your brushstrokes are horizontal. What I like to do is start off by painting the reflections (of trees, land, etc) using vertical brushstrokes, then pulling them gently across horizontally with my brush in some areas. I then put in the water using horizontal strokes, and pull across and into some areas of the reflections. This creates that glassy, flat surface quality that water has.
In small paintings, detail is minimized. Much information can be edited out. You don’t need to include every twig, leaf, and blade of grass. Just go for the essential. Trees are general forms of light and dark. Flowers in the foreground are just a small stroke or patch of color – we don’t see characteristics like petals. The same goes for the foreground – we don’t need to see every bump or divot. Once you start working on larger paintings you can include more detail.
To get blue sky color a good place to start is a mix of titanium white, cerulean blue, a bit of ultramarine blue, and sometimes a touch of red. The sky appears lighter on the horizon than overhead. To get this effect, add slightly more ultramarine blue to the overhead portion, while near the horizon your color should have more cerulean and white.
To get cloud color, I mix a chromatic gray (do not use black and white). To do this, mix a dab of ultramarine blue, cadmium red light, and cadmium yellow into your white. Let the edges blend with the sky color to get that soft cloud effect.
Generally I paint the sky last. This allows me to carve around the outline of the trees and mountains, refining their form, and to add in sky holes (the spaces in the trees where the sky shows through).
Distant hills, trees, and mountains have very little detail and contrast. When they are far enough away, we perceive them as just a single color. Atmospheric perspective means that the color is lighter (paler), bluer, and more toned-down (grayed) compared the middle and foreground.
Happy spring and happy painting! Let me know how your landscape studies are turning out and if you have any questions!