How to Connect to the Landscape You Paint

It’s All About How You Mix Colors & Interpret the Details

Sometimes it is difficult to put aside real-world stresses and tasks when it comes time to pursue our art. To-do lists, family matters, and social obligations crowd in, making it almost impossible to concentrate. One of the ways I clear my head is to really sink into my subject matter, spending time on close studies in which detail is key. I mix colors of everything I see to inspire me later. Even if I don’t exactingly recreate everything in front of me, I still tend to focus really hard, and that helps quiet all the clamoring in my head.

Springtime Blues by Mark Haworth, oil painting.
Springtime Blues by Mark Haworth, oil painting.

The Work Comes Alive with Color

Concentration and close attention to detail can lead to the kind of connection artists need to make their work come alive. Artist Mark Haworth describes the seasons’ changes over the Texas landscape in such a way that his close awareness of the place is apparent. “In the springtime here in the Texas Hill Country we get magnificent wildflowers—called bluebonnets—that cover the countryside and, from a distance, look like a blanket of blue,” Haworth says.

“The sight of these flowers is always the first sure sign of spring, an indication that the thunderstorms earlier in the season washed away the winter grays into life-filled color. In this painting, I captured the first of the bluebonnets’ arrival using a more intense palette than I usually do, in an effort to convey the sense of growth and renewal inherent in spring.”

I’m inspired by Haworth’s way of working: he is drawn to a minute change in the landscape and lets that sink in. He then finds a way to convey the excitement of the moment through color. But he doesn’t rest there. He pushes color. Upping the intensity of the blue of the flowers, for instance. From there, the power of the work unfolds.

WaterColor by Mark Haworth, oil painting.
WaterColor by Mark Haworth, oil painting.

The Work Comes Alive with Detail

Haworth also does a commendable job of absorbing detail and depicting detail–but not overwhelming his paintings with detail.  His painting of a rock bed swirling with river water could easily have become a distracting, eye-crossing hodgepodge of color. But it’s not! He chooses to establish detail through color and form and through variance of both. The rocks sit like gems–glowing with color and light–and the uniqueness of each is showcased. Mother Nature would be so proud!

Land Lover

Haworth inspires me with his close study and love of the land. This proves to me that any landscape painting composition or work of art comes alive easily when an artist gives herself permission to notice the details and give the subject matter the attention it is due. Favorite instructor Johannes Vloothuis is sure to do the same in the upcoming Paint Along: Make Color Sing — Color & Value Lessons for Landscape Painting. Sign up now and enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

4 thoughts on “How to Connect to the Landscape You Paint

  1. I make time to work on artwork a little at a time. When I get home from work, I get busy. I always make sure something is waiting for me at home…something unfinished. It’s also extremely important for me to set goals. So, I’ll give myself a time frame (like 20 drawings in 20 days). This way I have a very clear and measurable goal.

    TheArtofMichelle.com
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  2. It can be difficult to find time to paint, but I have dedicated a room in my home as a “studio”. I receive news from Artist Daily here on my computer. I check my calendar in this room and photograph my work here. I can find inspiration in this room with all of my creative materials in one place.

  3. i always leave an unfinished piece on my easel and my paints available – my acrylics are in a compartmentalized box that i spray to keep wet and can use immediately or if i use oils i cover my palette with plastic wrap and keep them from drying.. even if they do dry out, i have the motivation to put out new paint once i start working.. never put things completely away..

  4. i always leave an unfinished piece on my easel and my paints available – my acrylics are in a compartmentalized box that i spray to keep wet and can use immediately or if i use oils i cover my palette with plastic wrap and keep them from drying.. even if they do dry out, i have the motivation to put out new paint once i start working.. never put things completely away..

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