How to Paint a Landscape in Oils

Lean how to paint a landscape in oils with  “Wilderness Stream”  This would be a good starter project for you. Read and study how I did it then, try it on your own. The basic principal is to break down and define the various shapes and forms. This applies whether you are painting from life or from a photo. In this case, a photo.

In this example we will be painting a landscape on a white ground.  Yes, I know, the canvas doesn’t look white. Sorry,  I’ll try to fix it at a latter date.


So, using a pencil or vine charcoal sketch in the main shapes. I like to use vine charcoal because it is so much easier to make changes, and once you have the main lines sketched in,  you can dust them off to a lighter value.  Now, these lines are just to give you an indication of where you will be placing everything. I do get into more accurate drawing if I’m painting structures and defining perspective. As you observe the scene, whether it is from life or from a photo, try to break the scene into it’s basic forms /shapes. Remember to squint your eyes if need be, to eliminate the details.

The next step is to color in these shapes using paint thinned with just enough solvent to help you apply the colors thinly. If you use too much solvent your paint may run and you may have to wait a while before continuing. Remember, at this stage you will be painting shapes only.


Now that you have the shapes painted in and the canvas covered, you can start painting in the shadows.


After the shadows are painted in, you can add the middle ground colors and highlights.


Here I have added more detail and reworked the shadows. Also, I used a stippling effect to create the texture of the rocks.


As you will notice, this painting has no sky. However, if you want to learn how to paint a landscape in oils with a picture that includes a sky, check back, I will be doing one at a later date.

Also, I have a suggestion for a website to visit.  It is  It is here that you can submit your works for critique and also visit the various forums.

You might check out Rex Art for some good prices on art supplies.

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