Starting Your Landscape

These painting examples are done by Red Dot students, except for Phyllis Shafer.


Start at the top

This will keep your hands out of wet paint.


Strokes in all directions

Keep your strokes mottled. Don't smooth too much.


Atmospheric Perspective

Things in the distance will be bluer and more faded, and will have less contrast than things in the foreground. Click here for more details.


Skies are not too dark

Even if a photo shows a very dark blue sky, it tends to look like nighttime in a painting. Use white to keep your skies subdued. Usually!

Kay+Lindsey (1).jpg

No Straight Green

Almost never use green straight out of the tube. Even with brighter greens, in a landscape painting the color will look garish and distracting. Add ochres and umbers (at least) to neutralize a straight green. You can mix just any color with green and get a different version of green. (See Phyllis Schafer’s work below.)


Broaden your Palette

Use a large variety of hues. Use the work of Phyllis Shafer to inspire experimentation with lots of colors.


Light source

Objects will usually have a dark and light side, just like the spheres and the fruit. They may be rendered with different textures.


Soften your edges

Like with the fruit painting, smooth or blur the edges slightly between objects.


Grass perspective

Grass or foliage is larger and more detailed in the foreground, and gets smaller and more general as it recedes toward the horizon.


Straight line horizon

A large body of water (or sometimes a big field) has a very straight line on the horizon.


Contrast layers

Make an effort to clearly show contrast between sections or layers through color and value differences. More examples.