Whether it’s a serene forest scene or a majestic mountain vista, landscapes can transport us to another place and time. If you’re looking for some landscape painting ideas, we’ve listed 20 different ideas for different abilities and mediums.
So if you’re looking for some landscape painting inspiration, read on for some ideas to get you started.
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Paint a serene forest scene
There’s something so magical about forests. The tall trees, the dappled light, and the peace and quiet all combine to create an unforgettable atmosphere. When painting a forest scene, try to capture some of that magic. Pay attention to the colours and textures of the trees and leaves, and try to convey a sense of tranquility in your painting. AWE art paints this landscape in layers, starting with the light streaming through the trees in the background. The grass textures are made with a stiff brush, using the dry brushing technique to achieve the appearance of blades of grass.
Or create a simple forest scene with watercolour and acrylic, in this Skillshare class taught by Kate Jerry. In the class, learn how to create fog and mix different tree tones to create a striking final piece.
Paint a beautiful mountain vista
Mountain landscapes are some of the most popular subjects for paintings, and it’s easy to see why. The grandeur and scale of mountains is breathtaking, and their rugged beauty is unlike anything else. When painting a mountain landscape, be sure to capture the size and majesty of the mountains. Use bold brushstrokes and strong contrast to convey their power, and don’t be afraid to go big!
Get a large brush to paint the sky and large mountain peaks. You don’t need too many colours for mountain landscape paintings, a couple of different blues, black and titanium white will mix to make a variety of values. If you want to stock up on some acrylic painting supplies before getting started, check out our review of the best acrylic supplies!
In this mountain painting Skillshare class, learn how to create misty snow capped peaks with some easy to learn techniques.
Paint a calming seascape
Painting a seascape is relaxing and the process can feel simple when you break it down. Capture this tropical breaking wave with oils. You can paint along with this tutorial if you’re using acrylics too, but make sure to get a medium to slow the drying time so that you can blend the paint. Create a blue sky gradient by mixing transitional tones and using a soft brush to blend them together.
When painting a seascape, try to capture that feeling of peace. Use soft, gentle brushstrokes and calming colours.
If you’re an acrylic painter, practice painting these simple acrylic waves with this Skillshare class. Learn about the materials, colour mixing and how to paint a glittering ocean from start to finish.
Paint a stormy sea
Paint crashing waves and create a sense of drama to add unique and exciting stormy ocean painting to your portfolio. When painting a stormy sea, use expressive brushstrokes and dark colours to convey the power of the waves. And be sure to add in some whitecaps for an added sense of tension!
Paint a tranquil lake scene
Lake scenes can be simple and easy to paint, try this tutorial with acrylics or with gouache. Use light pastel colours to capture the calm of the water. And don’t forget to add in some reflections and lush greenery for a pop of colour!
In this painting tutorial, learn how to paint a beautiful mountain lake scene step by step. You’ll start with the sky, then work your way down to the distant mountains. Make sure to use some painters tape to mask the lake outline to get a clean line. Use a palette knife to quickly dab the lightest reflections on the water
Paint a rugged desert landscape
Paint vast expanses of sand, and towering dunes. Great reddish pigments to use for sand colours include red ochre and mars red. Mix with yellow ochre and burnt umber to achieve earthy red tones. Don’t forget to add in some cacti and other desert plants!
Paint a idyllic countryside scene
One classic landscape painting idea is a charming and quaint countryside scene. Paint rolling hills, rustic buildings, and farm animals. This tutorial shows you how to paint the rolling hills of the English countryside, a thatched roof cottage, a bridge and a babbling brook.
Paint a cloudscape
A cloudscape scene is one of the most beautiful and interesting landscape painting ideas. This is because depending on the time of day and type of cloud, they can take on such different appearances and atmospheres. In this tutorial, learn to paint fluffy cumulus clouds at sunset, with beautiful orange and purple tones. This exercise can form a great basis for future landscape studies. Choose to paint the clouds on their own, or divide the canvas up so that the sky takes up two thirds of the composition and paint a landscape beneath.
Nocturne landscape painting ideas
Night scenes can add an edge to a painting, creating a sense of mystery and intrigue. The shadows, the lack of colour, and the sense of stillness all combine to create a unique painting. When painting a nocturne landscape, use muted colours and soft brushstrokes. And be sure to add in some stars for an extra touch of magic!
Create this wonderful nocturne with a deep blue sky and a pop of light and colour with a campfire, in this tutorial by Jessica Henry.
Some great nocturne landscape painting ideas are: silhouetted trees against a starry night sky, a moon rise over the ocean, a car on a winding road through a forest. Use these prompts and put your own spin on it to create a unique piece.
Sunset landscape painting ideas
Sunsets are fun to paint, with bright, warm colours, the golden hour can completely transform the landscape. Ryan O’Rourke shows viewers how to paint a sunset ocean scene and how to mix colours too.
Some other great sunset painting ideas are: a sun setting over a mountain range, a field of flowers with the sun setting in the background, or even a cityscape with the sun shining through the buildings.
Paint whatever you like, but be sure to use warm colours to capture the feel of the soft light and the glow of the horizon.
Check out my tutorial on how to paint an ocean sunset. I mix pastel oranges and yellows with Cranfield Artists’ oil paints, then use a blending brush to create soft edges in the ripples of the water and clouds in the sky.
Paint en plein air
One of the best ways to capture the beauty of nature is to paint outside in the fresh air. This process is called plein air painting and it’s a great way to connect with your surroundings. Make sure you bring along all the supplies you’ll need, including a portable easel, canvas, paints, and brushes. Once you’re set up, take some time to really soak in your surroundings. Notice the colours, the light, and the textures. Then start painting!
If you have a lot of nature nearby, you could try hiking to a local beauty spot, or take your easel when you next get the opportunity to go on a trip. Artists are often inspired by the landscapes that surround them, so painting in different locations can be a great way to broaden your horizons.
In this painting tutorial, James Gurney shows you how to approach landscape painting on the field with gouache. From the blocking in stage, to the final details, learn how to paint efficiently before the light of the scene changes.
Paint a landscape diptych
A diptych is a painting composed of two panels, while a triptych has three panels. This is a fun way to experiment with composition and create a more interesting piece. You could paint two or three different views of the same scene, or you could use each panel to depict a different time of day.
Paint figures in a landscape
One of the best things about landscape painting is that you can include people or animals in the scene to create a more interesting composition. This can add a sense of scale, as well as provide a focal point for the viewer. When painting figures in a landscape, make sure they’re small enough so that they don’t dominate the scene. You could paint a group of people in the foreground, or a single person in the distance.
If you’re painting animals, you could depict them grazing in a field Just make sure they look natural in the setting!
Paint a landscape with bright colours
Experimenting with colour is incredibly fun, once you’ve had some practice at colour mixing. Watch the process of Bojidar Art, to get some inspiration for how to include saturated colours in your own piece. Sunsets or sunrises are a brilliant place to start, or paint a meadow of wildflowers!
And don’t forget that you can always experiment with different colour combinations until you find something you like. There are no rules when it comes to painting, so have fun and see what you can create!
Paint a landscape with bold brushstrokes
When painting a landscape, you can really experiment with different brushstrokes and techniques. You could paint with bold, sweeping strokes, and add texture to your painting with a large brush or palette knife.
One awesome way to add bold brushstrokes to a painting is by using the impasto technique. This is a way to create texture, with thick paint that holds its shape on the canvas. If you’re using acrylic paint, make sure to use heavy body paint and add a gel medium to thicken it. A great medium to use with oil paints is cold wax. Get a large stiff brush, or a palette knife to create your painterly, expressive marks.
Paint a landscape with an interesting perspective
One of the best things about landscape painting is that you can experiment with different perspectives. You could paint a scene from above, or from the perspective of low on the ground. Think about the composition of the piece before you start and make a few composition sketches so you can decide how to arrange the elements to achieve accurate proportions.
Try a new medium
Do you usually stick to one art medium, or have you ever felt like you wanted to branch out and experiment with some more? If landscapes are your usual subject of choice, why not mix it up and paint a similar subject, but with a new medium. Oil paints, for example, are a wonderful medium for painting seascapes and clouds. Because they dry so slowly, you can blend the paint for hours on end. Check out our oil painting ideas, which includes lots of landscape painting ideas! Alternatively, look to our watercolour painting ideas blog for more inspiration.
Paint a landscape with muted tones
If you want to create a more calming effect, try painting a landscape with muted tones. You could use a limited palette of just two or three colours, or mix different shades of the same colour to create a more subtle effect. Painting with muted tones often appears more realistic and elegant, it’s also much harder to neutralise colours than to paint with high saturation. To make colours appear muted in tone, mix in a small amount of the complementary colour, or mix in some burnt umber.
Create a colour scheme
One of the most important things to consider when painting a landscape is the colour palette. Nature provides us with an endless supply of beautiful colours, so take advantage of that! Think about the time of day and the season when choosing your colours. For example, warm oranges and yellows are perfect for a sunset painting, while cool blues and greens might be more suitable for a winter scene.
Create a colour scheme by using a limited palette. Select three colours on the colour wheel that you want to use and pick tubes of paint that roughly correspond to those colours. By choosing colours that are versions of the primaries, i.e. red, blue and yellow, you will be able to achieve a large chromatic range in the tones you mix from these colours. However, you can limit yourself even further, by choosing to use colours that are closer to one another on the colour wheel, such as an analogous colour scheme. To learn more about different colour schemes in paintings and the effects they can have on the viewer, check out our guide!
Gouache landscape painting ideas
Gouache is a wonderful painting medium for landscape painting, it’s has an opaque quality, but it behaves like watercolour. This means that it’s easy to transport and clean up, dries quickly and is perfect for taking on plein air painting trips. It’s also relatively inexpensive to start gouache painting.
Try painting a mountain lake, using washes of colour to begin, then slowly building up the layers, increasing the shadows and lastly adding highlights. One tip for painting mountain reflections is to increase the darkness of the shadow reflections, as they often appear darker reflected in water.
Landscape painting tips
When it comes to landscape painting, there are no rules, so feel free to experiment! However, here are a few tips which might help you to create a beautiful landscape painting:
- Use a viewfinder or camera to help you choose the composition of your painting. It can be helpful to take reference photos, but don’t be tempted to copy them exactly, use them as a starting point for your painting.
- Consider the time of day and weather conditions when you’ll be painting. The light can have a big impact on the mood of a landscape painting, so think about whether you want to paint a sunny scene or a more atmospheric one.
- Use a limited palette of colours to create unity in your painting. This doesn’t mean that you can only use three colours, but try to limit the number of different colours that you use.
- Start with a light wash of colour, then build up the layers gradually. This will help you to achieve more realistic shadows and highlight tones.
- Create atmospheric perspective. Artists make objects appear to recede into the distance by making them less saturated and more similar to the colour of the sky. For example, a distant hill at midday will appear more light and blue in tone compared to hills in the foreground.
If you’ve been inspired to try any of these landscape painting ideas for yourself, share your results in our Facebook group! Our Facebook group is a space for art lovers to share their work, share tips and techniques. Plus, get a free Drawing for Beginners ebook when you join, navigate to the guides section of the group to get your copy.