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Landscape Painting

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by Nicole Mills (subscribe)
Journalism graduate from Melbourne
Published March 9th 2011
There are any number of possibilities when it comes to painting, and often deciding what to paint is the hurdle that many amateur painters never overcome. There is a whole world of untapped potential as the next generation of Picasso's and Monet's stare idly at the television, unaware of their untapped genius.

Well here is a step by step guide to get you well on your way to creating your first of many masterpieces. It is the easiest painting formula you will ever learn and it has an infinite number of possible uses (depending on the colours and size of you painting).

Let me introduce you to the landscape painting. Keep in mind there are artists from every corner of the globe who have mastered the art of landscape painting and almost none of them look the same. There is never a right way or a wrong way to paint, but what I will describe to you here is simply one of the ways to structure a landscape painting - that just so happens to be incredibly easy.

First you need a canvas which can be bought from any art supplies shop or cheap versions can be found at bargain stores. Obviously the more money you spend, the nicer the canvas and the better your finished artwork will look, however for beginners there is no harm in practicing on cheap canvas, wood, paper or cardboard.

Take a roll of masking tape and decide where you want your horizon. It doesn't necessarily have to be in the centre of your canvas, but by playing around with the composition, you can create a quite dramatic effect.

The more contrast you have between land and sky, the better. So when you are deciding what colours to use, don't be afraid to paint a striking red desert landscape against a pale blue sky, or a fluorescent pink and purple sunset over dry paddocks.

Once you have selected which section you will paint first and have selected the colours you want, start dolloping on big lumps of paint in different sections of your canvas. If for example you are creating a pinky sunset, about 60 per cent of the paint will be red, another 25 per cent white, and the rest made up with small dashes of yellow or blue. The idea is to blend all of these colours with varying degrees of white and yellow, starting with a lot of white and yellow at the horizon, and blending less and less towards the top which will remain a darker tint of red-blue.

There is no exact formula I can prescribe as to how much or how little paint to use, but the beauty of this method is you can simply keep adding more of whichever colours you need to achieve your desired effect. Remember, white will neutralise too much darkness and deep colours will neutralise too much white.

It is important to keep in mind that any colour in the world can be created with the three primary colours (red, blue and yellow) combined with black and white. Red and blue make purple, blue and yellow make green and yellow and red make orange. Any variations of these can be created by adding white or black. For example, blue and red make purple, but then by adding more white it becomes lighter and creates lilac.

Remember to paint using wide, long brushstrokes that blend all the colours together, but still leave streaks of yellow or white to create texture. You don't need smooth soft monotone, especially when it comes to painting the land which will naturally have more texture than the sky.

What is most important though is don't get frustrated when things don't turn out exactly as you envisioned. They rarely do. Just embrace it and work with it and you may be surprised to find you are more artistic than you thought!
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Why? Display your own paintings around your house
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