How to get started with painting landscapes

Longing for a landscape print to hang in your home is very common, but why not dig out your paint palette and have a go at creating a self-made illustration?

If you’re familiar with painting landscapes but want to improve your style, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve decided to round up our best tips, so you can learn additional methods to heighten your quality of work and enhance your painting techniques for the future.

Simply read on to discover our different suggestions for how to paint watercolour landscapes and more. You can improve your painting style and create masterpieces with added oomph in no time.

What is landscape art?

Landscape artwork is the portrayal of natural scenery by an artist. Despite landscape paintings being prominent over the ages, an official independent genre in the Western world wasn’t defined until the 16th century Renaissance period.

When painting landscapes, your muse can be anything from the emerald forests you wander through on a picturesque walk, to the beautiful bodies of water you’ve discovered at the end of a hiking trail. Paintings of this kind won’t always include man-made structures, but they may well feature them; it just depends on what setting the artist wants to depict.

Landscape artwork can differ dramatically depending on the location you are envisioning. Take the UK, which boasts grassy fields and wonderful woodland to paint a picture of, whereas hotter countries such as Spain showcase golden, sandy beaches and cascading turquoise waterfalls. This means there is plenty of scope for you to create a unique piece of artwork.

First, dismiss any clutter 

When it comes to creating simple landscape paintings, you must include only the focal points of a setting to truly get the best out of your artwork.

For instance, if you are painting a picture of a golden beach with the sun shining down, be sure to include these key sights, but avoid including the more realistic elements of this setting, such as litter dotting the sand or straggling pieces of driftwood and seaweed.

It’s also quite easy to fall into the trap of defining each feature with extra detail. Of course, detail is an important part of the process when creating these designs, but don’t overcompensate. The beauty of landscapes is their overall impact, after all, so add detail only as a small, finishing touch to the setting you are painting instead.

You can achieve this by:

  • Using brighter colours to lightly accentuate each feature of your chosen setting
  • Introducing sharper brushwork
  • Using a palette knife to add further texture and detail to your piece
  • Adding intricate fine lines to your landscape painting

    Painting watercolour landscapes: Our advice

    Designing your own watercolour landscape is such a relaxing process. Both the end product and the process of capturing the subject matter is slightly freer and more unpredictable, which allows you to more deeply connect with your creativity.

    If you’re hoping to improve your landscape paintings using watercolour, we’d first recommend you take a few pictures of a set space before you put paintbrush to paper. As much as the imagination can take ‘snapshots’ of a scene you’ve seen and loved, taking a picture of said landscape guarantees that certain details and structural elements are shown as nature intended them.

    You’re likely familiar with how to paint watercolour landscapes, but to improve on how you create this type of artwork, you can:

    1. Be playful with the surroundings

    If a tree has a half-fallen branch in the park you’re painting, include this instead of eradicating its imperfect, but still beautiful, form. This adds true character to ensure your landscape painting stands out from the crowd.

    1. Incorporate a variety of edges

    It’s all too easy for a watercolour painting to feature hard edges across the piece. However, a piece will be much more pleasing to look at if you mix both soft and hard edges together.

    Introduce harder edges by adding wet paint to dry paper. Once the paint has dried, you’ll notice how each edge has become more exact. Whereas to achieve softer edges, apply wet paint to wet paper, and initially soften the paper with water at the start of your painting process.

    To soften a harder edge, wait for the paper to dry and start brushing it with water, using a stiffer brush to achieve the best results. If you’re hoping to achieve different edges before you’ve completed the specific detail you’re painting, instantly paint water next to it to soften the edge.

    1. Tie contrasting colours together to add depth

    You may have chosen a particular colour to outline the focal point of your painting, which will work wonderfully. You should also ensure you blend a variety of colours together throughout the painting process, even the one that you’ve chosen as the showstopper.

    Simply layer different colours on top of each other, back and forth, to achieve this, so that even the smallest fragments of colour are prevalent throughout. This can be done by adding lighter coloured paint first, such as white, and adding colours that are furthest away from hues like these.

    Painting landscapes with acrylics

    Using acrylics to paint a landscape is a brilliant method because they’re such adaptable paints to work with. Acrylic paint also adds texture to your artwork, which is really useful when your subject is filled with varying surfaces.

    If you’re hoping to improve your technique when painting landscapes with acrylics, we’d recommend doing the following:

    Paint the mid tones of your landscape painting first

    Starting with mid-tones, which are neither dark nor light colours, allows you to build up the darker colours of your artwork later on. You’ll likely be using these for shadowing. Afterwards, add highlights using lighter paints, which are brighter than the actual colour of the subject you are painting, such as using a bold, bright white to portray clouds in the sky.

    Use a coloured ground to begin with

    A coloured ground is the colour you use as the base coat for your painting, which you can then build on. Simply choose the background hue you want to add and paint. This works especially well to later portray the different colours of water. For instance, you can paint lighter coloured blues on top of the original, darker blue background colour.

    Take breaks to step away from your painting

    Landscapes are filled with contrasting features, and when you’re painting them, it can be all too easy to become engrossed in the piece. Take a few steps back now and again to re-establish your focus, and spot whether or not certain angles and colours you’ve introduced are creating what you initially envisioned for the piece.

    Start painting landscapes for yourself 

    Since you now know some extra tips to ensure you can paint landscapes to the best of your ability, now is the time to try these innovative approaches and methods.

    You could perhaps paint one for your loved ones for a special occasion, or if you’re not quite ready to let it go, you could keep your latest masterpiece for yourself and purchase a pre-prepared landscape painting for others instead, created by one of the many talented artists we work with.

    Simply discover our diverse selection of prints and paintings and introduce this genre of art to their home, or your own in between painting your creation!