Here are some tips to help you with your next landscape painting.
Landscape Painting Tip No 1:
Don't Put Everything In
You're not obliged to include everything
that you see in the landscape you're painting simply because it is there
in real life. (In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if you do this,
then you might as well take a photo and have it printed on canvas.) Be
selective, include the strong elements that characterise that particular
landscape. Use the landscape as a reference, to provide you with the
information you need to paint the elements, but don't slavishly follow
Landscape Painting Tip No 2:
Use Your Imagination
If it makes for a stronger painting
composition, don't hesitate to rearrange the elements in the landscape.
Or take things from different landscapes and put them together in one
painting. (Obviously this doesn't apply if you're painting a famous,
readily identifiable scene, but the majority of landscape paintings are
not of postcard scenes, but rather to capture the essence of a
Landscape Painting Tip No 3:
Give the Foreground Preference
Don't paint the whole landscape to
the same degree of detail: paint less detail in the background of the
landscape than you do in the foreground. It's less important there and
gives more 'authority' to what's in the foreground. The difference in
detail also helps draw the viewer's eye into the main focus of the
Landscape Painting Tip No 4:
It's Not Cheating to Buy Green Paints
You're not 'cheating' if
you buy green paints in a tube rather than mixing your own. One of the
main benefits of doing this is that it means you always have instant
access to particular greens. But don't limit yourself; extend the range
of 'ready-made' greens by adding blue or yellow to it.
Landscape Painting Tip No 5:
Get to Know How to Mix Greens
The variety and intensity
of greens that occur in nature is quite awesome. When mixing a green,
use the fact that green have either a blue or a yellow bias as the
starting point in determining the proportions you mix. (But remember the
shade of green something is in a landscape does change depending on the
time of day and what was a bluish green this morning may well be a
yellowish green this evening.)
Each different blue/yellow combination will give
a different green, plus the variations from the proportions of each you
mix. With practise it becomes instinctive to mix the shade of green
you're after. Take an afternoon to practise mixing your own greens,
making a colour chart to record which paints gave you what results. Also
experiment mixing with two blues and two yellows; and mixing blue or
yellow to a 'ready-made' green.
Landscape Painting Tip No 6:
Instant Muted Greens
Mix a little black with various yellows and
you’ll see that it produces a range of muted (or ‘dirty’) greens and
khakis. (Remember to add the black to the yellow, not yellow to black;
you need mix in only a little black paint to darken a yellow, but it
will take a comparatively large amount of yellow paint to lighten a
Landscape Painting Tip No 7:
Do a Series
Don't think that because you've painted a particular
landscape once, you're now done with it. Be like the Impressionist
Claude Monet and paint it again and again, in different lights, seasons,
and moods. You won't get bored with the scene, but instead you start to
see more in it. For example, the way a tree's shadow tracks around it
through the day, and how the different the light of the harsh midday sun
is to that of sunrise and sunset. For further inspiration for painting
the same scene again, take a look at the photos of landscape artist
of a particular scene taken through a range of light conditions and
Painting wet-on-wet makes for an effective sunset (or sunrise).
Work fast and loosely, don't try for detail in the sky/clouds section of the painting initially but rather focus on achieving an overall effect or impression.
1.Use a big brush, something at least 1.5" or 3cm wide, so you get the paint down rapidly (and can't try to paint details). Paint in long strokes, don't dab at small sections until you've created the overall effect of a sunset sky. Once you've got the overall impression of a sunset, then you work back into this to tighten up your cloud shapes if you wish.
2.Have the colours you want to use to hand. Depending on the sunset you've got in mind, you'll want a yellow, orange (or red and yellow), blue, purple (or blue and red), and white plus something that'll make dark shadows in the clouds such as burnt umber or Payne's Grey. The latter mixed in with your sunset colours work well for silhouettes in the foreground too.
3.Start by making the entire area where the sunset sky is going to be damp. This will help the colours you're going to be painting with spread easily and, with acrylics/watercolour, slow down the drying rate, giving you more working time. If you're using acrylic or watercolour, you can use clean water or liquid (fluid) white. If you're using oils, use a thin glaze of quite liquid white or a very thin wipe of the oil you use.
4.Work from light to dark, so you don't have to worry as much about getting your brush totally clean between colours. Also because it's easier to make a sunset darker than it is to lighten it. So start with the yellows and oranges, then add the darker colours.
5.If there are going to be any areas of blue, don't paint yellow or orange there -- if you do, you'll end up with a green mix when you add the blue.
6.Rather use too little of a dark colour initially than too much, but if you do find the sunset has gone too dark, wipe off the paint with a cloth and start again.
7.Blend the colours so you've got mostly soft edges rather than hard edges. Even the edges of clouds tend to be surprisingly soft.
8.Don't forget to consider tone, not just colour. Check the tone of the sky towards the top of the scene compared to the horizon. Watch for areas of light tone where the sun catches the edges of clouds (add a little white).
9.Any objects silhouetted in the foreground will be very dark in tone, but unlikely to be totally black and flat. Mix a chromatic black for silhouettes.
10.Once you've got the general feel of the sky working, then go in to refine the shapes of your clouds. Focus on the highlights and darkest areas rather than fussing with the middle tones.