How to Paint Landscapes

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When painting a landscape, being with a charcoal sketch of the basic shapes, mix a palette of colors and begin with the background to produce a foundation. Paint a landscape using any variety of artistic styles with advice from an experienced art supply store employee in this free video on painting.

Part of the Video Series: Painting Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Laura Pace. I'm here today at Asel Art Supply, and I'm going to talk to you about how to paint a landscape painting. I started out with a photograph that I have from Alaska. It's a landscape of a bay. I thought it had a good amount of contrast in it, and I also like the oblong shape. So I took my photograph, and I made a little sketch like this. I made it with charcoal on drawing paper. And in this sketch, I didn't try to be too detailed. I just indicated value areas. And by value, I mean how light or dark something is. So I established that I wanted these background mountains to be the darkest thing in my painting. I wanted these mountains back here to be the second darkest thing. This foreground area to be a middle value, and the water and sky to be the lightest value in the painting. Next, I took a canvas. And again, using a charcoal pencil, I sketched in just outlines of the different value areas. I made a really simple sketch. The reason I like to use charcoal on canvas is that it's really easy to get rid of charcoal powder. Once you've sketched in, you can lighten it by just brushing over it with a dry brush. Or if you make a line or a mark you don't like, it's really easy to take a kneaded eraser -- a soft eraser -- and just take out that area. So the next thing I did after that was squeezed out kind of a limited number of colors onto my palette that I thought would be good and appropriate colors to make mixtures. So from that number of colors, I can mix just about all the colors I need in this sort of muted landscape. After I mixed my colors, I blocked in big areas of colors -- very general kind of colors and shapes, nothing too specific. But I made the shape of my mountains here, put in some sky colors, my blue mountains in the background, my middle tone areas of the foreground and the beach and the water. Something I used here to make this landscape look more realistic was linear perspective and atmosphere perspective. And my linear perspective, I'm talking about making a horizon line in the painting, which goes right along here at the level of the water. It's really kind of an abstract concept, but it's a way of finding an area where all the lines in the painting are going to converge to give the impression of distance. I also used atmospheric perspective in this painting, and that's something that Leonardo da Vinci wrote about in his writings on treatise on painting. He talked about how colors get bluer and lighter and seem to fade out as they recede into the distance. So I used my lightest, bluest colors in the objects that are farthest away from me in the landscape -- these mountains back here in the background. My warmest, boldest colors are going to be in the foreground, and it's going to have the effect of making things in the foreground seem closer in space, and things in the background are going to recede into the distance more. So once I had all of those colors sketched in, I came back and put more details into this painting. Like, I made the mountains have a little bit more dimension by using light areas over the dark paint I had put down. I put more details into the clouds and let the clouds kind of spill over these mountain areas that I have in the background. I went back into the foreground and begun to detail some of the grass and weeds that are growing. And I started to work on the texture of these big rocks and pebbles that are on the beach here. Now, I'm going to continue to detail this painting more by putting in more grassy, rocky textures in here, but this painting is just about finished. And you can see, while it's not exactly like the photograph I worked from, it's pretty close. It gives you an idea of distance and perspective. And that's what I have to tell you about landscape painting.

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