It’s no secret I love nature, whether it’s spending time with the plants in my yard or hiking through the local nature preserves and parks. Nature speaks to me. It reinvigorates me.
That’s why I’ve been experimenting with landscape painting. It’s not only a way to pay homage to the natural settings I love so much, but it also allows me some freedom of expression. I’m a fan of the schools of abstract, abstract expressionism, and surrealism, and I’m leaning in that direction with my own compositions. Obviously, I have a long way to go, but I find this exploration educational and illuminating.
For what it’s worth, I feel like painting is a natural path for me to follow. I’ve always had an affinity for painting. I love art galleries, wandering through the exhibitions and immersing myself in the various styles and themes hanging on the walls.
So here are a few recent practice canvases I’ve finished.
This first one is a tree with wildflowers. I went with a simple approach, using a minimal color palette and focusing on the tree and foreground. Probably one of the brightest paintings I’ve done so far.
The next is a scene of trees along a lakefront. I’ve been experimenting with different brushes to create the trees, so this one shows that I still need to practice. Again, I went with a minimal color palette, just two shades of green, a little blue, some gold, and white for the trunks and water ripples. After this painting, I changed how I do the tree trunks and branches.
On a positive note, I like how the reflections in the water turned out. Not perfect, but it was progress.
The next painting I tried a seriously abstract angle. I’ve watched some interesting painting tutorials on YouTube that showed abstracts done by utilizing tape on the canvas and was inspired. Most of my attempts have been, to put it succinctly, shit. This one, however, turned out close to how I envisioned it in my head.
Basically, I tried to deconstruct the landscape into its components and used variations of four colors to add some depth. I think it turned out okay for an early attempt. Taping the canvas isn’t as easy as it sounds. There’s a balance between getting the tape down well enough to avoid painting seeping under it (thus, ruining the straight edge) and getting it stuck so well it peels up the white paint I used to prep the canvas. Practice, practice, practice.
In this last one, I feel I started to make real progress, particularly with the reflections of the trees in the water. I did most of the painting using a piece of old sponge. I found – or at least, I feel – that it gives the trees a more natural look. Still not happy with how the trunks turned out, but I’ve corrected that in my latest attempts.
The reflections are what I’m most proud of here. I think they look natural. I take a lot of photos when I go hiking and I used them as reference to try and capture that look.
I try to work on a painting every day. It’s like writing, or any art form, in that I have to do a little bit every day in order to feel I’m making progress. Doesn’t matter if I paint an entire canvas or simply add a few brush strokes, every drop of paint counts. Also, I think experimentation is important. I switch back and forth between different types of brushes and different techniques, using tape and other items I have around the house to create different shapes and textures. It’s fun to see what works and what doesn’t.
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my amateurish canvases. Feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, or advice below.