It’s an Excuse to Paint Umbrellas

Landscape Artwork That Isn’t Boring

The Coming Storm by George Inness, 1879, oil on canvas, 27 1/4 x 41 3/4.
The Coming Storm by George Inness, 1879, oil on canvas, 27 1/4 x 41 3/4.

Are you as bored of pretty landscape painting scenes as I am? My eyes just seem to glaze over when I see landscape artwork that all looks basically the same: perfect sunlight over an idyllic countryside. I’m just not inspired. Give me a little atmosphere; throw in an unexpected color, or use an unusual compositional element–and then I’m hooked.

Looking outside my window right now, it definitely isn’t a scene worth writing home about–overcast, rainy, and a little grey. But it just might be a scene worth painting. Here are a few of the ways I could turn this bad weather scene into a landscape artist’s best friend.

Landscape Painting Improvements

Well, first I’d tackle that sky. For a while I’ve been wondering how to paint clouds with more impact, and then I realized that I’ve been thinking only of the airiness and transparency of clouds. But I’m shoving that off to paint titans of the sky–massive cloud formations! Clouds can look like giants, formidable and weighty. So instead of painting just an overcast expanse, I could make it seem like a massive cloud cluster that is looming on the horizon.

Red Coat Blue Mood by Bev Jozwiak, watercolor painting.
Situating a figure like this in your landscape painting can
enliven a composition. (Red Coat Blue Mood by Bev Jozwiak, watercolor painting.)

Everywhere I look the trees are one of a kind. Trees offer a great opportunity to paint the unique architecture of their forms. Plus, not every tree grows straight and tall–something that is easy to forget when they are covered with verdant foliage. In fact, they grow at some pretty dramatic angles with interesting lines.

Another way to take full command of this would-be landscape painting is by adding elements that aren’t there. What about a person walking along with a bright blue umbrella? Or, if you are painting water or a seascape, a cluster of boats moored offshore? I’m all for letting my imagination run wild and infuse a painting composition with more liveliness.

Landscape painting is not about a gorgeous landscape–or at least it’s not all about that. It is about creating a sense of place or a moment in time. And a really skilled landscape art painter can make any kind of weather or terrain work to her or his advantage by eking out what makes the scene unique. One skilled artist we all know and love–Johannes Vloothuis–is having a Paint Along to Establish Moods for Successful Landscape Paintings. Join in with hundreds of other painters for three sessions of painting from the convenience of your home or studio. Build a painting together with an expert instructor, learning the methods and strategies Johannes uses to create a dynamic work of landscape painting art in oil, watercolor, and pastel. 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.   

7 thoughts on “It’s an Excuse to Paint Umbrellas

  1. When I saw the title, “It’s an Excuse to Paint Umbrellas,” I thought the article would be about painting umbrellas. I thought that was a really neat idea for those dabbling with paint or painting. What a great feeling I would get from receiving a handpainted umbrella from a friend! I know I would be delighted to receive one.

    I wonder what type of paint might be best for painting on umbrellas to insure that the design would not run or fae away. Any ideas?

    Sara from Glen Ridge, NJ

    1. Would suggest (if Artist’s colors) Acrylic paints for outdoor murals. Another idea would be to obtain Fabric paint from an Arts & Crafts store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. My only concern with Acrylics would be perhaps a tendency for the finish to “stick” to itself when the umbrella is folded.

  2. Courtney—

    Another fun and inspirational article. If you don’t mind, I’ll pick up from the title and paragraph five of your article.

    Umbrellas can be a great elements to add to an urban scene. They have interesting shapes and bulk that can tie figure groups together—or frame figures. From a design standpoint, they are a lot of fun to work with. During the design phase of a picture, they can give you powerful—almost abstract—forms to work with. And they can add an “of the moment” feeling to a picture, accenting any atmospheric qualities.

    I have been getting to be something of an umbrella kook. My last three painting have involved umbrellas. I completed a detailed composition for another umbrella painting in December but I decided to put it aside for the moment. You can have too much of a good thing. But, I’ll get back to it.

    Paul

  3. I have started a series of umbrella paintings. I have done 4 so far. I do not do them one after another but every so often as inspired. Don’t know what started it but it is lots of fun. That’s it “UMBRELLAS ARE FUN”

  4. Sara. Acrylics or fabric paint will work fine. I have clothing that is 20 years old, been washed many times and still looks new, Once dry water will not harm it, and if you accidently get an unintended splotch ammonia will take it out of acrylics. I am not sure about fabric paint. I have painted lots of different fabrics. An umbrella would be fun!

  5. Sara. Acrylics or fabric paint will work fine. I have clothing that is 20 years old, been washed many times and still looks new, Once dry water will not harm it, and if you accidently get an unintended splotch ammonia will take it out of acrylics. I am not sure about fabric paint. I have painted lots of different fabrics. An umbrella would be fun!

  6. Hi, great article. The umbrella thing is a bit of a distraction from the main message about painting different, atmospheric landscapes. I am with you about lots of accomplished and pretty landscapes. I like mine atmospheric and loaded with colour, depth and texture…..but will give due thought to umbrella too…paintingwetweather scenes is challenging
    Thanks for prompting more creative thoughts.

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