Landscape Original Paintings N

12 August 2014

 A landscape original painting that lacks a good foreground is like a house without adequate foundations. Its function is to lead the eye into the picture and such details as plants, fencing, a gate, path, grassy bank or patch of shadow all serve to do this. Features of this kind provide something by which the middle distance may be judged and this helps to give the subject matter a three-dimensional quality and adds to the feeling of recession, as does the use of strong color tones in this area. If foreground detail is missing, the painting gives the unfortunate impression that something has dropped out of it, so that the eye tends to wander down to the lower edge of the frame instead of into the picture.

A common mistake is to use only one shade of green when painting grassy foreground areas. Observation will confirm that not only are many greens present but other colors as well. Patches of bare earth, flowering grasses and the foliage of wild plants, tend to break up the surface of such an area into a number of colours and textures.


original paintings autumn

There are several ways of tackling such foregrounds and each artist will discover, in practice, the method which suits him best. A good way to start is to lay on a very pale wash of yellow ochre, light red or burnt sienna. When this wash is dry, paint in the grassy areas with a mixture of viridian and cadmium yellow, leaving some of the first wash free of color to represent the soil. When the second wash is almost dry, melt in some stiffer, darker color here and there to represent shadows and darker vegetation.

Where tall grasses or clumps of plants are present in the foreground their form may be rendered simply by dipping a flat, dry brush into a wash of an appropriate color and painting them from the base up with a quick stroke of the brush with the hairs spread out. A hog bristle brush of medium size is ideal for this purpose.

The dry brush technique can also be used for such areas as bare earth and ploughed fields, either direct on to the paper so that the white shows through, or over a wash of a paler tone or another colour. You can capture the crumbly texture of earth very effectively in this manner.

Sometimes a wild plant can be made a feature of the foreground, in which case more detailed painting is required and a preliminary sketch is then useful for reference.

Middle Distance and Distant Areas

Interpreting the color in landscape is a hurdle to be overcome as soon as possible. There are so many colors to be seen in such a bewildering variety of shades and tones that a palette of a dozen pigments may seem quite inadequate. It is very necessary to simplify what you see in terms of color.


original paintings woods tree

It is not easy to judge color and tone accurately at first. Pieces of black and white paper of postcard size with apertures of approximately 3 inches by 2 (77 X 51 mm.) cut from the middle are useful aids by which to judge tone. Trees often look quite black against the skyline, but a glance through the black bordered aperture will soon confirm whether or not this is so. Such a comparison will probably reveal that they are a dark greyish-green and not black at all.

Cornfields are not as yellow as they appear at first glance. Close at hand, a tinge of green may be detected among the yellow stalks. At a distance, the same field will look greyish-yellow.

White objects, if compared with the white card, will be seen to be tinged with yellow, grey or blue.

Land is rarely completely flat. Ground has form as well as color. Even in a seemingly level meadow, certain undulations in the ground will be apparent. Look out for these when you are sketching. Small and what may seem unimportant details make all the difference between an original painting which succeeds and one that does not.


trees original paintings park

A distant group of massed trees may be depicted very convincingly merely by laying on a flat wash of color in the general shape of its outline. Little detail will be visible and any indication of light and shade would destroy immediately the illusion of distance. If you feel it would be better to have a guideline for your brush, then indicate the shape

very faintly either with a soft pencil or charcoal before applying the wash.

When rain is on the way, the silhouette of distant trees is usually well defined. The wash should be applied to dry paper so that a crisp outline is obtained. On hot days, heat haze or mist may blur distant areas and then the wash should be applied after the paper has been slightly dampened.

More detail will be evident in trees in the middle distance. The light and shade of the foliage will need to be shown and some attempt made to indicate the species.
In beginners’ paintings the trees tend, all too often, to resemble clouds of bright green cotton wool and bear little resemblance to any known species. It is well worth taking the trouble to learn to identify the commoner tree species by their characteristic shape.

Make up your mind that there will never be any doubt as to what kind of tree you have painted. Each species has a basic shape by which it can be readily recognized. Although individual trees vary to a certain extent, they will always display the characteristics of their species, e.g. the sturdiness of the oak, the daintiness of the silver birch. 


birch trees original paintings birches

If you are working out of doors, then your first step is to draw in the overall shape of the tree, bearing in mind the proportion of trunk to foliage or bare branches and the spread or width of the tree in proportion to its height. If you can get this basic shape right, then you are well on the way to painting a really convincing tree.

The trunk and branches of a tree are not the rich chocolate brown  some beginners are tempted to paint them. There are some tree species where the bark does appear to have a slightly brownish hue in certain lighting conditions, but these are few. The majority have bark that is greyish in tone; some are almost black, notably the horse chestnut and copper beech.

To avoid making foliage areas too green, a wash of a very pale tone of light red can be applied initially. This will have the effect of greying the subsequent application of green. Sunlit or light areas can be made warmer with a wash of cadmium yellow to which a little cobalt blue has been added. Indicate the shadowy parts with a deeper tone of green, to which a little grey or blue has been introduced.

Where branches are visible among foliage, such areas will be in shadow because they are near or at the center of the tree; that part of a mass of foliage which is nearest to you will be lightest in tone.

Study how other artists have painted foliage, noting the colors used especially. Patches of sky are frequently visible through foliage even in high summer. In spring and autumn when foliage is less dense this is even more marked, as is the color variation in leaves.

It is advisable to exclude trees from the foregrounds of original paintings until you have had considerable practice in drawing and painting them, and so gained a certain amount of confidence in handling this type of subject matter.

There are a number of things to consider when painting a tree in detail. Because the watercolor medium does not lend itself to very fine detail, it is necessary to simplify what you see yet still make it look convincing on paper. Look long and hard, therefore, before you begin to paint such a vast and complicated object as a tree. Observe the way it grows out of the ground; the texture of the bark; the manner in which the branches spring from the trunk and the twigs divide in a pattern peculiar to the species; the color and arrangement of the foliage. Often the individual leaf shape is a guide to the shape of the tree itself. Compare the oak leaf to the outline of an oak tree.

The thickest part of a branch is where it has grown out of the trunk or a stouter branch. Look at your own arm and you will see what I mean. It is thickest at the shoulder and tapers gradually towards the wrist.

If you find yourself daunted by the thought of painting masses of foliage, start by drawing and painting bare trees - not nearly as complicated a subject as may appear at first glance. Put in the trunk and outline of the tree lightly in pencil or with a fine brush. Establish where the trunk divides off into the main branches. Finally, put in the smaller branches and indicate the twiggy masses at their tips.

Architecture in Landscape

There are few stretches of countryside where buildings of some kind are not in evidence - perhaps an isolated cottage; a church steeple peeping out from the trees; a group of farm buildings. Each can provide a focal point in  original paintings. In depicting such structures, a sound knowledge of simple perspective is invaluable.

ciy landscape original paintings


We are fortunate in having such a wide range of domestic architecture in North America. Houses vary not only with regard to the period in which they were built, but also with locality. So you will find houses constructed of stone, brick or cob; ones that are half-timbered, tile hung or clap-boarded. There is therefore, plenty to interest and inspire the artist.

Brickwork is not always red and when it is, is far less bright in tone than one thinks. Bricks weather to beautifully soft, subtle colors and can be anything from ochre through pink, purple and brownish tones to rose and dull red. It is a good idea to give areas of brickwork a pale wash of viridion initially. This color will tone down a red wash painted over it and small sections can be left here and there to denote the mossy patches often present on old walls.

It is neither necessary nor desirable to attempt to indicate the individual bricks in a wall. A few courses of brickwork and several bricks picked out elsewhere should suffice even in the foregrounds of original paintings. The color may vary considerably from brick to brick in the same wall. The mortar between them will be much lighter than the

bricks themselves. One way of painting such an area is to take a piece of white candle and draw in the outline of the bricks with this. When a wash of color is added it will not take where the lines of candle wax have been drawn.

Stonework should not be made too cool in tone. As with brickwork its color is subtle and varied by the effects of weathering and the growth of lichens. Grey tones mixed from cobalt and burnt sienna to which a small quantity of yellow ochre or raw sienna has been added are useful for depicting stone walls and buildings.

But it is not only houses and farm buildings that provide inspiration for the artist. Bridges and churches are to be found in many different styles and building materials. Studies of these may come in useful for inclusion in a landscape painting.

Originality in Landscape Painting

There is plenty of scope for originality and imagination in landscape painting. Its composition needs as much thought as still life, a fact not always evident because the subject matter is on an altogether grander scale. Finding the best way to convey the textures of such things as bare earth and grass is something of a challenge, as is the need to capture the mood of a scene and a sense of recession.

Whereas still life and portraits have attracted the attention of modern artists, who have indulged in all kinds of experiments with their subject matter, landscapes still tend to be painted entirely realistically, so duplicating photographic work to a large extent. This does not mean that the amateur artist should introduce freak effects into his landscape original paintings merely for the sake of being different. However, it is always worth looking at familiar scenes with fresh eyes and finding new ways of interpreting what we see.

It may be that unusual weather conditions make a stretch of countryside look particularly striking; perhaps it is the pattern of bare trees against a sky dark with storm clouds; the design and detail of a group of farm buildings; the outline of fields and hedgerows or ploughed land seen as a pattern which impresses itself on your mind. All these factors can be emphasized so that someone looking at your painting will sense what it was that inspired the idea and treatment of the subject matter. Original and distinctive work in landscape can only be achieved by bringing one’s interpretive powers into greater play.

So experiment a little to see what you can produce by way of original landscapes. Try using a very limited palette, particularly if your theme is a wintry one, with bare earth and trees much in evidence.


original paintings trees by Marchella


At all times avoid using green as much as possible. It is a color much over-used in landscape. We think of the countryside at all seasons as lwing green and so it is the first color we reach for, whereas it should be the last. Shades of olive, yellow, brown and purple may be much more effective to express the color of ground areas and foliage.

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