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Landscape Painting Tips

Learn to Paint with Landscape Painting Tips on the Oh She Paints Blog ohshepaints.com
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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!

Color Palette

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.

My color palette for landscape painting, oh she paints
My color palette for landscape painting – cool colors are aligned on left and warm colors on right. I mix in the middle.

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.

Landscape painting, river reflections, by Christine Henderson at ohshepaints.com
“River reflections”; landscape painting, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. There is a pink colored ground which you can see peeking few in a few places.

Reflections

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.

Landscape painting, wildflowers by the sea by Christine Henderson on ohshepaints.com
“Wildflowers by the sea”; landscape painting, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. This one is on a white panel, but I did my initial sketch in red paint and left a few spots showing through.

Detail

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.

Landscape painting, "summer road", by Christine Henderson at ohshepaints.com
“Summer road”; landscape painting, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Here I’ve used a bright red ground color.

The Sky

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).

Landscape painting, golden fields and far off hills, by Christine Henderson at ohshepaints.com
“Golden fields and far off hills”; landscape painting, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.  This was on a white panel.

Atmospheric Perspective

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.

Landscape painting, river in summer, by Christine Henderson at ohshepaints.com
“River in summer”; landscape painting, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in. Again I’ve use the red colored ground.
Landscape painting, wildflowers in the field on a breezy day, by Christine Henderson at ohshepaints.com
“Wildflowers in the field on a breezy day”; landscape painting, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.
Landscape painting, by the river's edge, by Christine Henderson at ohshepaints.com
“By the river’s edge”; landscape painting, oil on panel, 8 x 10 in.

Happy spring and happy painting! Let me know how your landscape studies are turning out and if you have any questions!

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14 Replies to “Landscape Painting Tips”

  1. Love the bits of red peeking through. I assume you primed yr canvas? With what? Speak to me more about this effect. I love it when I see it but haven’t figured it out. Nice site. Just subscribed.

    1. Hi Karen, thanks for your comment. Yes, I ‘stained’ the canvas. I used a thin layer of acrylic paint (on top of an already gessoed canvas). I used cadmium red light watered down a bit. You can actually paint with oil paint on top of it (just make sure the acrylic is dry first!). You can even do an underpainting in acrylic if you like. Just note that it doesn’t work the other way around: you can’t use acrylic on top of oil paint. Sometimes, if I want a more pastel color (for example, a pale pink), I will actually mix a bit of acrylic in with my gesso to stain it for the top coat. Afterwards, when you’re painting you can leave little flecks of color showing through and it has a magical effect – like little sparks – that unify the painting and add some life. You can decide how much you leave showing through and where to get different effects. Try it out! Let me know if you have any other questions. And thanks for signing up!

  2. would it be possible to start painting landscape with only 4-5 colors from those you suggest? i’ve never painted before and not sure i’ll like it so i don’t wanna spend to much to start. which colors would they be?

    1. Yes, Edmund, you can definitely start out with what is called a “limited palette” (just a few select colors). It is actually a great way to unify your painting. I will have a post on this to go into more detail. There are several different variations you could try. For now I would say titanium white, cadmium yellow (light, not deep), cadmium red (light), ultramarine blue, and burnt sienna.

    2. Just recently i found out about cobalt blues. really magnificent. Probably not good for green but best for grey. 🙂 Used only three pigments plus titanium white.

    3. Thanks for the suggestion Tarmo! Cobalt is beautiful. What other pigments do you use?

    4. For grey i use raw sienna and cadmium red deep apart from cobalt. The cobalt should be the best, then it’s working right. Two not so wonderful things about cobalt are that the opacity isn’t greatest and you really shouldn’t look what it costs. 🙂

    5. Interesting, I’ll have to give it a try and see how it works. I do have a cobalt blue (it was a birthday gift 🙂 ) Thanks!

  3. I am still learning how to tweak my landscape painting. This helps a lot thanks.

    1. Thanks Robin! Just keep at it. The more practice the better!

  4. Do you have any recommendations for other colors to add to the palette? Ones that should be part of any palette and not just for landscape?

    1. Hi Sam, I suggest a cool red. I have alizarin crimson in my palette (as well as permanent rose). I also have sap green and burnt sienna. Cobalt blue is also nice. This is a very versatile palette. I use it for all kinds of painting!

  5. Great post! Will you be offering any full courses on this?

    1. Hi Shariyf, thanks for your interest. I suggest signing up for my newsletter – that way you’ll be updated if I do offer any courses. Cheers!

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