Landscape Painting Ideas to Help You Stay Inspired

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landscape painting ideas

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When seeking out inspiration for landscape painting ideas, there are a rich variety of elements to consider. As landscapes can be grand or intimate, naturalistic or stylized.

How you approach your landscape painting will likely depend a lot on your personal aesthetic. Along with, the time and place you are painting and what you want to achieve.

In this article, you’ll find several different themed landscape paintings for inspiration. As well as helpful tips (and resources) to get started with a landscape painting of your own!

Landscape Painting Ideas with Close-Up Subject Matter

One of the simplest landscape painting ideas is to choose a single element from the scene and focus on it. This could be a tree, a building, or even a person. By isolating your subject, you are allowing yourself to zero in on a specific subject matter in the landscape. This can help to create a more focused and intimate painting.

close up landscape painting ideas that focus on trees in the landscape
Camille Corot, Fontainebleau: Oak Trees at Bas-Bréau. This Corot painting is an example of a landscape painting focused on a smaller more close up section of the landscape. This way of working with close up subject matter can be a great landscape painting idea for working with more cropped sections of the landscape.

The above painting by Corot is an example of a close up view of trees in a landscape painting. Although this painting does not focus on one single tree, it does focus on trees as the painting’s main subject.

You can explore many different ways of creating more close up landscape paintings. What you choose will largely depend on what kind of outdoor environment you paint in.

antonio lopez garcia city painting idea with buildings and a street
Painting a city scene has great opportunities for focusing on close-up subjects as well as numerous other painting ideas (including people, doors, statues and more!).

If you’re in an urban setting, you may want to focus on painting streetlights, storefronts, or other cityscape elements. If you’re in a more rural area, you could focus on painting a barn, a field of flowers, or even a winding country road.

Landscape Paintings with (Spacial) Depth

Landscape painting ideas with depth of space
Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, London 1775–1851 London) The Lake of Zug, 1843 British, Watercolor over graphite; 11 3/4 x 18 3/8 in. (29.8 x 46.6 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Marquand Fund, 1959 (59.120) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/337499

Another landscape painting idea is to focus on creating a sense of depth in your painting so that you have a vast expanse of space. This can be done by using a variety of techniques, including perspective, layering, and atmospheric effects.

One way to create depth in your landscape painting is by using perspective. This is the technique of creating an illusion of distance by making objects appear smaller the further they are from the viewer. You can create perspective in your painting by using a vanishing point. Which is a point on the horizon where all of the lines in your painting seem to converge.

landscape painting reference idea with great depth
In this landscape painting reference photo, you can see how the lines of the hills receding away help create that expansive space.

Another way to create depth in your landscape painting is with value and color temperature. Lighter values tend to recede back in space, while darker values tend to come forward. In addition, cooler colors tend to recede back in space while warmer colors tend to come forward. You can use these techniques to create a sense of depth and distance in your landscape painting.

Dark Landscape Paintings with High Contrast

Another landscape painting idea is to focus on creating a dark and moody painting. This can be done by using high contrast light and dark values, as well as cool colors. If you want to really lean into the dark moodiness of your landscape painting. You can paint a dark grey overcast and/or stormy sky.

A Summer Night at Tyresö, Prince Eugen Duke of Närke. Here is a beautiful example of a dark landscape painting idea with high contrast values. You can see how bright the light values are against the dark landscape.

In the painting above by Prince Eugen Duke of Närke, we see a dark landscape painting with high contrast. The land area of the painting is quite dark in value, while the sky is much lighter. It has very high contrast values and stands out quite strongly because of this.

The next time a storm comes rolling in or you have dramatic weather. You can take the opportunity to observe the outdoors in your area and paint a dark high contrast landscape!

Light Landscape Paintings with Low Contrast

This Seurat painting, Landscape at Saint-Ouen, is a perfect example of a light value low contrast landscape depicting a sunny and colorful outdoor scene. It is a great landscape painting idea to find a similar lighting situation to paint from.

In contrast, you could also focus on painting a light and airy landscape. This can be done by using a low contrast of light and dark values, as well as warm or cool colors.

A light landscape painting is perfect for those days when the sun is shining and there’s not a lot of clouds in the sky. The light values will help to create a sense of space and airiness.

You can also create a light value landscape in cloudy weather conditions like the John Constable painting below. The key is to not have a lighting situation with high contrast values. Autumnal seasons are great for seeking out fall painting ideas that often contain these types of conditions.

A View on Hampstead Heath, Early Morning, Attributed to John Constable. This painting is a very low contrast piece and easy landscape painting idea when you find yourself in a situation with a narrow range of values.

Night Scene Landscape Painting Ideas

Another idea for painting landscapes is to focus on painting a nocturnal scene. This can involve a number of different elements such as, painting stars in a night sky, streetlights, silhouettes and more!

Landscape at night painting ideas
Learning how to paint a night sky is a great place to start getting inspiration and the techniques necessary to create nighttime landscape paintings.

Painting a night scene can be quite challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. To get started, you’ll want to look at other artist’s depictions of nocturnal scenes. This will help you to envision what you might want to paint.

Because we are much more accustomed to landscape paintings portrayed in daylight. It can be more challenging to know how to approach a night time painting…

Nocturne – Swans in the Saxon Garden in Warsaw by Night, Józef Pankiewicz. NIght time paintings can be a very fun landscape painting idea especially if you have never tried it before!

To start out, above is a beautiful nocturnal landscape painting scene by Józef Pankiewicz. It is so dark that you can barely make out what is depicted in the painting. The subject matter truly is the darkness of the night. We can make out water reflections and the title helps us to understand that the three white masses in front are swans.

The night landscape painting below by Whistler is very different from the one above. As it isn’t as dark and has a more romantic and lyrical depiction of a nocturnal landscape. It has a beautiful range of different blues and a soft night sky.

Nocturne: Silver and Opal – Chelsea, James Abbott McNeill Whistler. You can create nocturnal landscape paintings that are abstract and poetic.

Landscape Tutorials to Help You Get Started

The most important part of painting is to put your thoughts and ideas into action. Once you are inspired by a landscape painting idea then get started painting!

Landscape painting guides for you:

To get further ideas, take a look at good landscape paintings by others. This will help to further stimulate your mind to generate more landscape painting ideas!

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    Hi! I am Elisabeth

    Art Studio Life exists for you to be able to stay inspired, learn, and improve your skills.

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    16 thoughts on “Landscape Painting Ideas to Help You Stay Inspired”

    1. Thank you Elizabeth for this article on landscape painting ideas. I am very much drawn towards the painting of landscapes and seascapes as opposed to any other themes. In your article under the ‘Painting with Spacial Depth’ section you mentioned layering as a technique. I am assuming you are referring to different depths of layers of paint to create an effect. Would you be able to clarify that for me please?

      1. Hi Ann, That is wonderful that you are drawn to landscapes and seascapes. Good eye for catching that word 🙂 Layering paint itself can help to create a sense of space. Thicker paint as well as large brush strokes will come forward in space. While thinner paint and smaller brush strokes will tend to recede back.

    2. I will start with a landscape. But since I wish to do also the pictures of the roses & the sunflowers, that I am putting aside at the mom. I hope you are not mad at me. You have been very patient and I thank you so much. I

      1. Hi Gianfranco! That is wonderful that you will start with a landscape. Sometimes it is helpful to put certain projects aside for a certain amount of time. I think it is good that you will take a break from the flowers and work on something different. Since it is summer it is the perfect season for landscape painting!

    3. Abbianne George

      My favorite landscape to paint is the beach I so enjoy going laying in the sand getting a tan, almost as good is painting that and I try to include my happy feelings of going to the beach in my paintings!

    4. Marilyn Keating

      I need to learn how to paint water spray. For instance painting a waterfall and painting the spray it creates on the way down. I am painting in acrylics.
      Thank you

    5. Good Morning Elisabeth,
      You offer to copy landscapes that it would be impossible for me to attack in this period of learning. Camille Corot executed the oaks of Fontainebleau at Bas Bréau between 1832-33. He was 36 or 37 years old and had at least 16 years’ experience. He had had Michallon as a master, himself a pupil of the famous Jacques-Louis David, the official painter of Napoleon Bonaparte !
      I started painting 4 months ago. Acrylic then oils and for fun watercolor and India ink. I copy simple themes with various colors. I thus force myself to learn to mix the colors but also the perspective and what must be painted at the beginning (the background) and then the other planes. Mistakes (and I make a lot) are easier to correct with oil paint than with acrylic. I would have liked to send a couple of paintings I did to show what I’m talking about, but it is impossible to include a photo with the text.
      Have a good day.

      1. Hello Paul, Yes, Corot can be intimidating however he also started from somewhere. Not only that, he didn’t start learning to paint until he was 27 – so it is remarkable (and inspiring) to see what he accomplished in a relatively short period of time. He definitely hit the ground running once he commenced his studies.

        That is great that you are learning by copying simple themes and learning how to mix colors. If you would like to send some photos you may send to my e-mail at [email protected]

    6. Warren Petherbridge

      Thanks for the info Elisabeth, as usual very helpful, myself living in a rural village in central NSW, near an extinct volcano, many landscape opportunities are there for the taking. Some old buildings, shearing sheds and many trees are available for painting. I particularly like including a tree/trees and an old building and sometimes a path to give perspective. I will post some on the facebook page.
      regards and thanks
      Warren

      1. Hi Warren! Wonderful to hear from you. Your location sounds like it is rich with landscape painting opportunities – complete with an extinct volcano! Please do share in the facebook group – would be wonderful to see!

    7. Just what I needed today! It is 55F and heavy beet air being blown around by cold NW wind—may have a bit of sun late afternoon and tomorrow. More rain next week!!
      Completed outside food & flower gardening knowing this. So…will be adventuring into more of these varieties in the few weeks ahead! Thanks for the creative nudgs, Elisabeth!

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