Landscape painting isn't about finding the perfect spot and turning it into a beautiful painting. It's about finding a spot and turning what you see into a beautiful composition by being selective.
|Two possible compositions for a landscape painting: one inspiring and the other decidedly not.|
I've chosen these photos as an extreme example to show what I mean, how it depends on what you choose to see, rather than simply taking in everything that's in front of you. It's the view from the little landing at the top of the outside stairs at Skyeworks Gallery, where I've been known to sit with my sketchbook and watercolors when I'm on gallery duty and it's quiet. If I stand up, the view is dominated by the tarred carpark and modern warehouse to the side of the old mill building I'm in. If I sit down, I no longer see this, only the green hills dotted with white houses and the sky above. (While some artists do great work with urban scenery, including Isle of Skye printmaker Emma Noble, I prefer not to!)
So once I've narrowed my focus, made a selection from the overall landscape, the next step will be to decide how much of this I'll include in my landscape painting. Might it be a long and narrow composition or a slice out of it, a rectangle or square? There won't be much detail, because what I'm seeing isn't detail but coloured shapes of varying size. (I've got good long-distance vision, but I'm kidding myself if I think I can make out windows in the distance houses, for instance.) It'll be a painterly piece, a sense of the overall feeling of the landscape, not depicting individual branches on trees or tiles on a roof.
First overall washes of color, then smaller mark making, most likely including some overworking with watercolor pencil and some splattering. Layers to give that sense of differences in color and tone I see, but without specifics.
What's the most unlikely spot you've found a great composition in? Leave a comment and let me know.