How to Oil Paint Landscape Scenes

The first thing in painting a landscape painting is your subject. Choose a scene that you like such as a lake view or a field of flowers or even a cottage set in the woods. Once your subject is chosen then it is time to decide your canvas size.

If you are sure of your ability to paint your landscape scene, then choose the size of canvas that you feel will do the scene justice. I find that most any size will do, but it often depends on the 'mood' I want to create. However, for scenes that have a subject that I want to experiment with, I will choose a smaller canvas such as an 8x10 primed cotton. Choosing a smaller size enables me to quickly do a study and if it looks good enough, there is the option of doing the scene over again and with more detail on a larger canvas allowing me to enhance what I wasn't able to achieve in the smaller canvas.

The next step is to set out your palate. The colors that you choose are often dictated by the season of the painting as well as the light. Is the scene bathed in sunlight? Is it a foggy morning, a winter scene with snow on the ground and barren trees? As you can see the colors will be dictated by the scene that you choose to paint.

Once you establish your palate, then it is time to sketch the scene on your canvas. I will sometimes use one of the colors on my palate or a charcoal pencil. The main point is to sketch in the major shapes, don't worry about the details at this point.

After you have sketched in the general shapes of your landscape you will want to block in the lights and the dark areas of the scene with an under paint of color. Generally speaking I will use a wash of burnt umber and fill in the major shapes. More color of the wash is used for the darker areas and less color of the wash is used for the lighter areas. This is sometimes referred to as a 'value wash'. Once this is done, step back and compare the lights and the dark areas on your canvas with the scene. If you need to define some darker or lighter values, this is the time.

The next step is to mix the color for your sky. The choice of the color of course is dependent on your landscape scene. For instance, in a typical blue sky I often choose cobalt blue, cadmium yellow light and little cadmium red light. To these colors I will add titanium white to get the different hues of the colors. Working from the top of the sky down to the horizon lay in your sky. Then take your greens and mix color for your foliage. Along the horizon line lay in the foliage to blend with your sky.

So far you have put your sky and your horizon line in. The next step would be to paint in your background trees and work your way forward in the painting from the horizon line to the foreground. As you work the foreground you will need to pay more attention to the detail of the landscape and bring out those factors that excited you about the scene. Once this is done, step back and take a look. This is the point to refine any areas of the painting that you feel are lacking. Once that is done...well you are done!

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