Feeling Moody: Your Guide to Creating Mood in Landscapes

From misty lakes to dramatic sunrises, here’s everything you’ll need to establish a certain mood in your landscape painting.

Blue Evening (oil on canvas, 36 x 48) by Anne Packard

The Magic of Mood

The late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat once said of his transient self-doubts, “Some days I can’t get an idea, and I think, ‘Man, I’m just washed up,’ but it’s just a mood.” That phrase, It’s just a mood, represents quite well the fleeting nature of these particular feelings — and moody landscapes can be just as elusive. But when done right, establishing a certain mood in a landscape painting infuses your work with emotion and enchantment, increasing the relatability and appeal for all viewers, regardless of who they are or what genres they might be drawn to at first glance.

Whether you’re trying to depict the drama of a sunrise or the wistfulness of a foggy evening, translating a landscape’s mood to canvas requires nailing techniques for painting depth, atmosphere, the sky, and more. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find a collection of our best articles and videos to get you inspired and equipped to capture the essence of the scene before you — whether you’re painting en plein air, with a reference photo, or from memory and imagination.

Happy — or should we say moody? — creating, friends!

Crystal Light (oil, 30 x 40) by Erin Hanson

Inspiration Jumpstart

Creating Mist by Pouring and Lifting, final step, by Catherine P. O’Neill | watercolor techniques
The Hornbeck (watercolor on paper, 19×27) by Catherine P. O’Neill

Getting Misty

The Road Less Taken (pastel, 12×16) by Richard McKinley

Finding New Depths

Headlights (watercolor on paper, 26×40) by Susan Weintraub

Exploring Atmosphere

Last Light (pastel on paper, 9×12) by Nancy Silvia

The Sky’s the Limit

Check out this preview of Watercolorist’s Essential Workshop: Atmosphere & Drama with Gordon MacKenzie

In-Depth Videos

And to take your knowledge of mood to the next level (and beyond), here are a handful of videos you can purchase for download, or stream immediately if you are an Artists Network Member!

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