Did you know that you can paint a landscape just by using a few easy techniques?
Of course you can!
More creative encouragement to read:
I’ve been painting forests, mountains, floral fields, oceans and beaches since I started painting because I love nature and it’s so satisfying to paint different landscapes. Though I struggle with painting water sometimes, forests and mountains are my thing.
[Question: What do you find the easiest to paint?]
When being on a budget and can’t afford art school or art lessons, you have to learn the painting techniques by yourself. Thankfully, there are a lot of free videos and courses to teach you the basics.
I watch videos and read articles all the time about the steps of painting but never sit to paint with the computer in front me. I don’t follow the tutorials strictly. I just watch them all the time and when I sit to paint I just try to remember and use everything I’ve watched [in most cases I have only a reference image opened]. Maybe not the best example but this is how it works for me. This is how I learn everything [not only about painting but pretty much everything].
Probably the situation is like this because I get too frustrated when I try to follow a tutorial at the same time I decide to paint and things don’t happen as they should. And by experimenting on my own, I learn a lot more.
However, I’ll repeat myself – I watch videos and tutorials all the time. And when I find a reference image of what I want to paint, I have the techniques and colors I’m going to use outlined in my mind.
Recently I started using baby wipes. They make miracles especially for making [and blending] the background [at least I use them mostly for this]. And the technique is very easy – you just apply paint and then wipe it off. And you do it any number of times you need to get the effect you want.
I love painting nature landscapes, in a more abstract or in a more traditional way [and colors], because they give you freedom. You have the freedom to create your perfect forest or the perfect mountain view, or the best ocean waves. I love using vibrant colors and make things look a bit more strange, or unrealistic, or mystical [like the mountain on the right which is available for purchase and you can find it the shop here or in Etsy shop].
However, I wanted to show you the steps of how to paint a forest [even though you can use the steps for painting other landscapes, just the elements will be different]
First, before you start with the whole process, you have to decide what you are going to paint on – canvas, canvas panel, paper, something else. I was going to tell you to choose what paints [acrylics, oils or watercolors] but I’m using acrylics, so I don’t know how it will turn if you use oils [and I’m pretty sure half of the techniques won’t work for watercolors]. Also, mix your colors. You can use them directly from the tube if you wish, but mixing and making your own colors will help you have deeper and solid colors [+ it’s satisfying when watching the mixing process]. I used gray for the background and green for the bushes but you can make it as you want. [For the gray, I mixed blue, white and black; for the light green – green and yellow; and for the dark green – green and blue]. Choose your brushes. For this one, I used one flat and one round. Keep in mind that the sizes of the paintbrushes depend on the size of your painting. I think that’s it before starting. Now let’s paint!
The easy way to paint a forest landscape
Outline it [optional]
I don’t always go with this one but in many cases, it helps you stay focused on what you are doing. To do so, you can use a regular graphite pencil, a charcoal pencil or even oil pastels to mark not only the composition but also the colors. It’s totally okay if you decide to skip this step and go directly to the next one.
Do the background
With the flat brush paint the background first and don’t freak out if it doesn’t look perfect. You are just starting. Backgrounds on their own look messy and not-so-pretty but when you add all the details later, everything will look perfect. Start with adding the color want from the edges and mix with more white in the center. Use a baby wipe to wipe off some of the paint and blend it better. Do it a couple of times until you like how it looks. I usually make it lighter in the center because somehow it stands out and gives the painting more depth.
Paint the background elements
Start with painting the elements [in this case – the trees] which further away from you. Use the round brush with more water on it so the color isn’t so solid and make thinner lines. Imagine [or look carefully if you have a reference image] how the trees, which are far from you, look. The lines will be different – some of them will be thinner, some of them will be darker – and that way you’ll catch the depth of the forest. With the flat brush make the leaves of the trees by just touching the brush [again, use more water on the brush] to the surface.
Paint the front elements
Now that you are ready with the background elements, it’s time to paint the ones that are closer to you. Use a drier brush and make few thicker and more solid trees. If you think it’s needed, make some leaves with the same method as above but use a thicker paint.
Paint the bushes
Use darker green when painting the ones on the background and lighter green for these on the front. When painting this kind of elements, I usually apply the paint by dabbing – apply thick layers of paint with quick dabs [actually this is the method I used for making the tree leaves above]. That way it gives more texture to the painting. Use dark green for the background bushes and add some dark gray to give it some shadows. When painting the front bushes, apply light green and add some white and/or yellow to make the highlights. You’ll feel it when it’s ready.
You have painted a forest landscape in 4 easy step [5 if we count the outlining]. I’m so proud of you! Now it’s time to hang it on the wall and be happy with what you did!
I accidentally made it with two sides. One as it was the idea but if you turn it upside down the bushes become the crowns of the trees and what I painted as leaves become the bushes.
How did your painting turned out? Have you discovered something new?