Landscape Painting: Aesthetic Response of Artists

Wivenhoe Park, Essex John Constable  National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Constable had painted the English Landscape Garden in this painted. The photographic clarity had caught the harmony hidden in this pleasant natural scene. The painting was commissioned by the owner of Wivenhoe Park. It is believed that after getting the money from this painting, Constable was able to marry his year-long beloved.

The artists while painting a landscape know that nature has its own order. The paintbrushes, the colours with all of their tonal values and hues, and the blank canvases: these all try to enliven the embedded order of nature. It has seasons coming and going by turn; it has rain and snowfall as per the climatic timetable. Thus every natural event occurring on the surface of the land is more or less is an integral part of an ordered system of nature. While painting this beauty in its every shade and mood, the artist also tries to depict the hidden order embedded in the landscape.

The Technique of Painting A Landscape

Mount Etnafrom Taormina 1843.  Thomas Cole

Landscape painting has remained the most popular theme for artists. How to paint landscape, cityscape, or sea-scape, and the sky is independent fields of the art of painting. When an artist is a face to face with a beautiful view, there would be one and only thought in his or her mind. And the thought would be, “what a    spectacular painting this beautiful scene would make!” The art of landscape painting is as old as the art of paintings itself. But there have been certain techniques, which have evolved with the passing of time. Let us see how the landscape painting is painted, or how it can be painted in a better manner. Here are some of the techniques used by master artists. 

Painting in StagesUnlike other paintings, which can be done in one go, the landscape paintings should be done in three phases. In the first phase, start painting the objects which are at the far end, at a distance from the painter’s eyes. So the sky and the mountain peaks would come first. After painting the things lying at a distance, paint the objects which are closer than those things painted. Finally, start painting the things near to you. 

How to Choose a Colour Scheme: An artist's intuition would be a good guide. But there are certain rules for painting landscapes. The colour scheme would also follow this pattern, more or less. Rule one: paint the lighter objects first and then proceed onto the darker zones. The things lying in the near vicinity would be darker and attracting more details than the objects at the distance.  

The final stage would be to paint the additional details. For trees, consider painting trunks of the trees and shadows falling on the ground. If there are buildings, then try making them appearing solid, looking three dimensional. This could be done by painting the surrounding area of those building darker than the other objects. The nearest objects are to be done with smaller brushes and with minute details.

The summer Oil on Canvas -by Alfred Sisley
Oil on canvas   Petit Palais

The trees painted in the middle distance would require precise treatment regarding their shape, the colours to be used, the tonal values to be ascribed and the shades of colours, including the shades of the shadows that these trees create on the ground. However minute details like the precision in painting the leaves and branches would not be necessary. Here in the distance, the portion of the land would be painted with subdued green. A tint of transparent golden yellow would make the green subdued and look warmer. That would give a firm ground for the trees painted in the middle and in the distance.    

While painting landscapes, the prime object of some of the artists remains the depiction of beauty and harmony embedded in nature. The Vastness of land, seas, rivers and mountains are the ingredients of landscape paintings. But painting the sky in its various moods is the most essential part of landscape painting. It remains the prime attention of an artist to depict the sky in its every mood and proportion highlighting other aspects in a frame.

By the things painted, and for convenience too, the artists divide or call different parts of the landscape paintings seascapes, skycaps, moonscapes, river view, cityscapes, aerial view etc. Landscape art, nurtured by the masters and amateur artists, has developed to its present height and is still scaling further.

During the journey through the years, the art of painting, the landscape has undergone many improvements and experiments, the latest is the modern style of landscape painting. The invent of various ingredients of colours, the improving quality of oils, the various schools and institutions providing education and guidance have helped to popularise the art of painting in general and the landscape painting in particular.

The work of an artist who paints landscapes reflects our attitudes towards the natural world and our own place in it. It is because the recording of the material world, may it be by the brush of a painter or a pen of a writer, has hardly been wholly objective or neutral. The art of landscape paintings honours and celebrate the physical environment of Nature in a variety of ways. 

Anton Mauve Watercolour on paper
Riders in the Snow of the Woods  at
The Hague 
 Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

A desire to wage war against the traditions gives strength to an artist. Anton Mauve (1838 - 1888) revealed it in the form of protesting his parents. He left the traditional study to become an artist.  

The Artist: Anton was fond of painting in his unique style. In his initial period, he had preferred a highly finished manner of completing a painting, using a palate full of brilliant colours. Later in his life, he had changed this technique and adopted subdued colours. Many of his paintings done in this period would be in lighter blue and revealing the delicacy of grey. He would take his art materials, ride on the house, and go to rural areas of his country Netherland for painting the peaceful rural life. 

The Art: Known as a realist artist from the Hague School of art, Anton had to lean towards painting landscapes. Catching the colours of greenery clad or snow-covered land became his favourite subjects. He would paint the horses and other animals as the subject of his choice. One of the efforts catching the moods of live-earth is the technique of painting in the open air. The sketches and paintings, including oil paintings, done in the open air in front of the view being recorded often possess an immediacy not found in landscape paintings done under the artificial lights of a studio. Anton Mauve did much work of painting out-of-doors, capturing in paint the vitality of natural phenomena. In the above painting, Riders in the Snow of the Woods at The Hague, we can see his passion for painting. After putting masterly efforts and all the skills available, a landscape painter hardly can paint an accurate copy of a place. Such is the liveliness and changing moods of the surfaces of Mother Earth.

Painting the Landscapes: Turning the medium of landscape painting to their advantage, Anton often provided more information and sense of the place than it would be possible to capture in ordinary circumstances. The art of landscape paintings honours and celebrates the physical environment of Mother Earth in a variety of ways. The idea of considering the countryside as a delightful and relaxing place of retreat from the chaos of the city is an old one. Open grounds rich with long pastoral areas, the mountains, rivers, lush green vegetations and the down-to-the earth people: are the subjects that hold great importance for a landscape artist like Anton. He had painted such places turning them into the object of delights. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons].

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