Old Masters Academy

Top Tips – How To Paint a Landscape

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How To Paint a Landscape

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Art Techniques

Step 1: Choose your paint

Choose if you want to work in oil, acrylic or watercolor. Whatever you decide, choose the appropriate paints for your medium.

Step 2: Get a filbert brush

Leave all of your brushes at home except for a single filbert brush. As you progress in landscapes, add and experiment with other brushes.

Step 3: Bring water and rags

Bring lots of water and rags.

Step 4: Set up your easel

In the middle of the day, go set up your easel In a comfortable location that has a good view.

The light changes the least over a given number of hours in the middle of the day.

Step 5: Sketch your drawing

Using the pencil, sketch your painting on your sketch pad. Make only very rough shapes — triangles, arcs, blobs —to give it a general look and feel.

Painting is less about the medium (paint, pastel, pencil) and more about how you create the image. Drawings use lines. Paintings use shape.

Step 6: Work out values

When you’re happy with the composition, it’s time to work out the values, or lightness and darkness. On a scale of 1 to 10, choose a key object with a middle value.

Step 7: Eye the composition

Eye your composition, or structure. What’s lighter than the object you chose? What’s darker? What’s in between and by how much?

Step 8: Choose values for all other objects

Using that value as your key, begin choosing values for all of the other objects in your composition.

Step 9: Color your key object

Once you’re done, turn to the canvas and select a color for the key object.

You will probably need to mix paints to get the value you need.

Step 10: Paint the rough key object

Paint the rough shape of your key object.

Wash your brush thoroughly between colors in your jar of water. Dry on a rag.

Step 11: Paint another object

Choose an object touching your key object. Choose a color and assign it a middle value. Paint its rough shape. Stick to the middle values, avoiding highlights and shadows at this stage.

Step 12: Keep painting

Keep working around your composition until you’ve blocked off the whole piece.

Step 13: Appraise composition

Step back and look at your composition. Does it feel right?

Step 14: Assign and develop contrast

Now go back in to your piece and begin assigning and painting colors with more accurate values for ever-smaller shapes around the piece. Your contrast will begin to develop.

Start with lighter values, then move toward darker values.

Step 15: Add shadows

Add in your shadows in. Generally, you’ll want a cooler color. Avoid pure black.

Step 16: Add highlights

Finally, add the highlights. These will be something in the family of the color of your light source, but avoid pure white.

Step 17: Sign and date the painting

When you’re satisfied with your painting, sign the front, and, when it’s dry, use a marker on the back to identify the title, place, and date.

Color theory is the practice of picking and identifying colors for specific situations, like in advertising or design.

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