Saturday, May 3, 2014

Composing a Landscape Painting

Work in Progress
Here is my latest work in progress using oils on a linen canvas. The first layer is a base coat of transparent magenta.  I chose magenta over burnt sienna (my other favorite base coat), because I planned to use a more vibrant palette rather than earth tones. At this point, the painting consists of various warm and cool colors, with bold strokes and distinct masses dividing the sky, mountains, and field. Now I will wait for this thicker layer to dry for several days. We’ll see where it goes!

When mapping the composition, I loosely applied the rule of thirds.  As you can see, the tree lies at the intersection of the lower right portion of the canvas, causing it to become the focal point. I could have dropped the horizon line to obtain an even more effective composition, but this would have also decreased the amount of sky space with the elevation of the mountain, if kept proportional. Decisions, decisions... 

Although it is especially helpful when composing landscapes, using the rule of thirds is practical for virtually any subject matter, including portraits, flowers, and still life.
Here’s an excellent 2-minute video, further explaining this concept:

 Credit: Will Kemp/

"Even in front of nature, one must compose" ~ Edgar Degas


  1. I love how the magenta looks underneath! Great loose brushwork! :)

  2. Thank you, Jennifer! This painting is leaning on the colorful/ impressionistic side. Fun stuff!


Thanks for your comments!