The Beauty of Landscape Painting and How to Paint it Better

Landscape painting is derived from the Dutch word “Landschap”. It depicts the natural world around us. This genre is commonly associated with majestic mountain scenes, gently rolling hills, and still water garden ponds. Landscapes, on the other hand, can depict any scenery and include subjects such as buildings, animals, and people.

While there is a traditional viewpoint of landscapes, artists have turned to other settings over the years. Cityscapes, for example, depict urban areas, while seascapes depict the ocean and waterscapes depict freshwater, such as Monet’s work on the Seine.

Landscape as a Format

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The term “landscape” has another meaning in art. The term “landscape format” tends to refer to a picture plane with a width that is greater than its height. It is, in essence, a piece of art in a horizontal rather than a vertical orientation.

In this sense, the landscape is derived from landscape paintings. The horizontal format is much better suited to capturing the expansive vistas that artists hope to depict in their work. A vertical format, while used for some landscapes, tends to limit the subject’s vantage point and may not have the same impact.

Landscape Painting in History

Landscapes, as popular as they are today, are still relatively new to the art world. When the emphasis was on spiritual or historical subjects, capturing the beauty of the natural world was not a priority.

Landscape Paintings in 17th Century

Landscape painting did not begin to emerge until the 17th century. Many art historians agree that it was during this period that scenery became the subject rather than just a background element. French painters Claude Lorraine and Nicholas Poussin, as well as Dutch artists like Jacob van Ruysdael, were among those represented.

Landscape painting has ranked fourth in the French Academy’s genre hierarchy. Paintings of history, portraits, and genres were regarded as more important whereas the genre of still life was regarded as less important.

Landscape Paintings in 19th Century

This new painting genre took off, and by the nineteenth century, it had gained widespread popularity. It frequently romanticized scenic views and came to dominate painting subjects as artists attempted to capture what was around them for all to see. Landscapes also provided many people with their first (and only) glimpse of foreign lands.

Landscapes became less realistic and literal when the Impressionists emerged in the mid-1800s. Though realistic landscapes will always be popular among collectors, artists such as Monet, Renoir, and Cézanne demonstrated a new perspective on the natural world.

Landscape painting has grown in popularity since then, and it is now one of the most popular genres among collectors. Artists have interpreted the landscape in a variety of ways, with many sticking to tradition. One thing is certain: the landscape genre has taken over the art world’s landscape.

How to Improve your Landscape Painting

Here is a list of 5 useful and practical tips to help you improve your landscape paintings. Excellent for beginning artists, but also useful for those who have been painting for some time.

1. Know the Value Distribution in Landscape Painting

Composition is an important aspect of landscape painting. But it is often overlooked. It is critical for a successful landscape painting composition to create believable darks and lights.

I’ve been to a lot of art galleries where there are landscape paintings for sale, some with exorbitant prices and bad compositions. Some of the compositions I’ve seen have been so bad that I wonder to myself that I’m missing something. Is it possible that I missed a meeting? It’s a shame because I’ve seen many potentially good paintings ruined by poor composition.

Only by having a clear value definition will the viewer be able to tell what is in light and what is in shade, what is darker, and what is lighter. If the value is incorrect, our brain can quickly detect that something is wrong, even if we have never seen that scene before.

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Landscape Value Distribution: From lightest to darkest:

The sky: The sky should be the lightest shape in the painting during the day.

 Horizontal: Any flat and horizontal surface is the second lightest because it almost completely reflects the sky.

Diagonal and slanted: The inclined surfaces, such as slopes and roofs, are a little darker.

Upright: The darkest shapes are usually vertical elements, such as tree trunks. This is because the reflection of the sky’s light is limited.

2. Atmospheric Perspective Influences Both Colors and Values

A landscape painting of a waterfall

Some objects in landscapes are very far away, so the amount of air, or atmosphere, between us and the objects, can be enormous.

Humidity and floating particles in the air create a filter that influences how we perceive the intensity and value of colors.

The farther away something is, the grayer and lighter it becomes.

When driving on a highway, you can see this. Closer-to-you trees and shrubs are crisper and darker, while those closer to the horizon are grayer and lighter. This is the atmospheric perspective that I was talking about earlier.

3. Include in The Painting Only What Works

An oil painting on canvas of nature

When looking at a landscape, it can be difficult to decide how to crop the image to paint.

When you start drawing your subject on the canvas, you make a lot of important decisions.

  • What exactly is the focal point?
  • What size canvas would be appropriate for this scene?
  • How do I position the focal point on the canvas?
  • What elements do I include, and, more importantly, what elements do I leave out?
  • Reduce the number of steps. Remove all distractions. It doesn’t matter if you’re painting on location or from a photograph; the bottom line is that you don’t have to paint every single bush, electric pole, street sign, and so on that, you come across.

4. Simplify Busy Elements When You Paint a Landscape

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Sometimes a scene is stunning. But it is overcrowded. It is the artist’s responsibility to simplify.

By grouping shapes together, I learned to simplify.

Connect darks by removing small and unimportant lighter shapes. To maintain color variety, vary the color mix slightly with each brushstroke while staying within the same value family.

Don’t worry about small defining strokes until the very end. Add them only if they are necessary to render the object; otherwise, trust the viewer’s eye to interpret the item and leave out unnecessary details.

Starting with a value sketch is a good way to simplify the scene.

5. Enjoy the Painting Process and Learn from Your Mistakes

landscape painting of a flower field

Every painting presents its own set of challenges, and many of those challenges can turn into fantastic opportunities for experimentation and self-improvement.

The results may not be visible in the current painting, but the next ones will undoubtedly benefit from the struggle and problem-solving that you went through today.

Continue to paint.

Enjoy its every step.

Learn from your mistakes.
and Have FUN!!! 😉

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