Whether you are a watercolor landscape artist, into landscape oil paintings, or want to create your first landscape painting in acrylic, the skills and insights you will need to excel all come from experience. That is, art landscape experts who can share their hard-won methods and unique ways of working with us.
John Singer Sargent may have been able to start painting landscapes in any location or during any hour of the day, but the rest of us need to select a contemporary landscape painting location based on the time of day, season of the year, and conditions that prevail. One spot might be inspiring in the morning and boring in the afternoon; or the location may require more time to paint than is available. It is therefore important to take into account what the landscape painting conditions are likely to be at the various locations you are considering. Most professionals take note of the locations they pass and try to remember the best vantage point and the optimal time for returning.
Artist Thomas S. Buechner says, “The older I get, the more attractive the subject matter that is closest to the bathroom becomes.” He was joking, of course, but he does try to avoid spending too much time searching for the “perfect” landscape artwork location because there are always a variety of choices available, some more convenient than others.
Artists Matthew Daub and William Hook had much the same advice when they cautioned against the expectation that the landscape would be greener or more picturesque on the other side of the hill, or down the road, or on the other side of the stream. Honored landscape artist Clyde Aspevig, a man of intense personal motivation, picks locations where he can create several good paintings without having to pack up and move his equipment.
If you are looking for more in-depth landscape painting approaches, consider the Oil Painter’s Solution Book on Landscapes, with answers on everything from materials, to brush techniques, and what to paint first.
A Crucial Part of How to Paint Landscape Artwork: Considering the Direction of Light
Most landscape oil paintings take several hours to finish, so it helps to consider what will happen to the angle and intensity of the light while you are painting at a particular site. Will the sunlight cross the painting surface and create unwanted glare? Will the clouds clear away and create a sharp contrast in the pattern of sunlight and shadow? Will the distinction between warm and cool colors become more pronounced as the sun begins to set?
Of course, a landscape artist needn’t be a slave to weather conditions. Once a good landscape artwork is underway, experiences can guide you to its successful completion. “Lie, cheat, and steal,” says contemporary landscape painting artist Jack Beal with a laugh. By that he means that artists are not obliged to paint exactly what they observe in their watercolor landscape paintings or landscape oil paintings. In fact, composition is all about abstracting the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface. “If Corot and Albert Bierstadt can help you, then by all means let them,” Beal advises.