How to Paint a Landscape

Landscapes don't move and they have natural lighting, so painting one is easy and fun for beginners.

You will need

  • A pre-stretched and gessoed canvas
  • An easel
  • Paints
  • A filbert brush
  • Water
  • A jar
  • Rags
  • A palette
  • A pencil
  • And a sketchpad

Step 1 Choose your paint Choose if you want to work in oil, acrylic or watercolor. Whatever you decide, choose the appropriate paints for your medium.

Step 2 Get a filbert brush Leave all of your brushes at home except for a single filbert brush. As you progress in landscapes, add and experiment with other brushes.

Step 3 Bring water and rags Bring lots of water and rags.

Step 4 Set up your easel In the middle of the day, go set up your easel In a comfortable location that has a good view.

Step 5 Sketch your drawing Using the pencil, sketch your painting on your sketch pad. Make only very rough shapes — triangles, arcs, blobs —to give it a general look and feel.

Step 6 Work out values When you’re happy with the composition, it’s time to work out the values, or lightness and darkness. On a scale of 1 to 10, choose a key object with a middle value.

Step 7 Eye the composition Eye your composition, or structure. What’s lighter than the object you chose? What’s darker? What’s in between and by how much?

Step 8 Choose values for all other objects Using that value as your key, begin choosing values for all of the other objects in your composition.

Step 9 Color your key object Once you’re done, turn to the canvas and select a color for the key object.

Step 10 Paint the rough key object Paint the rough shape of your key object.

Step 11 Paint another object Choose an object touching your key object. Choose a color and assign it a middle value. Paint its rough shape. Stick to the middle values, avoiding highlights and shadows at this stage.

Step 12 Keep painting Keep working around your composition until you’ve blocked off the whole piece.

Step 13 Appraise composition Step back and look at your composition. Does it feel right?

Step 14 Assign and develop contrast Now go back in to your piece and begin assigning and painting colors with more accurate values for ever-smaller shapes around the piece. Your contrast will begin to develop.

Step 15 Add shadows Add in your shadows in. Generally, you’ll want a cooler color. Avoid pure black.

Step 16 Add highlights Finally, add the highlights. These will be something in the family of the color of your light source, but avoid pure white.

Step 17 Sign and date the painting When you’re satisfied with your painting, sign the front, and, when it’s dry, use a marker on the back to identify the title, place, and date.