Painting Landscapes and the best approach!

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What's the main point an artist is attempting to achieve within painting landscapes?  Well, let me try to answer that.  There is no true right or wrong answer, but at least allow me to give you my perspective. 

Like any painting (still life, portrait, landscape) you, as an artist, are bringing a freshness, a depth of vision in what you see, and placing them in terms that are more meaningful and more significant to the viewer than what would be readily, and commonly apparent. 

Another way of saying it, you want to make something, (that in nature is already beautiful), better!  To punch it up a notch, so when someone who has seen that bridge every day for um-teen many years, will stand back and take notice. 

Maybe even have that little suck of breath intake when recognition takes place, and marvel at the "not so apparent" beauty YOU have brought to their attention!

The 3 approaches to painting landscapes.

There are 3 ways to tackle painting landscapes.  Here's the short list:

  1. The direct approach (Plein-air painters use this one)
  2. The indirect (or layered) approach 
  3. A combination approach in which the majority of the work is completed in one sitting, then highlights, details, minor adjustments, are done back in the studio when the work has dried. This is by far what most professionals use.

Paintings can be done in a realistic manner, or a more abstract manner.  They can be Surreal, (marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream, unbelievable, fantasy) or purely imaginative. 

Within the genre, you have

  • seascapes, 
  • cloudscapes, 
  • skyscapes, 
  • cityscapes (urban). 
  • interiors (inside a room)

So many variables!

So where do you start?

Well, at this point start thinking on whether you want to go direct or indirect. 

If you go direct, you will be using the Alla Prima technique.  A technique in which the painting is usually done at first attempt and in one sitting. 

A lot of Plein-Air, (French term for "in the open air") painters use this technique.  But you can also use an indirect approach with the help of photography.  You can paint on site, then shoot pictures, take a few notes, and head back to the studio to begin your layering processes.

Most pros use a combination of both! 

They get a really good study with the color matching the most important part.  Then taking several photo's for reference, notes in the journal, then a trip back to the studio to finish a larger canvas.

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