Painting a Season in All Its Glory

Study for Gapstow Bridge in Sunlight by Bennett Vadnais, oil on canvas, landscape painting, 12 x 16, 2007.
Study for Gapstow Bridge in Sunlight by Bennett Vadnais, oil on canvas, landscape painting, 12 x 16, 2007.

Landscape Painting & Fall Colors

Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s my birthday season, so of course I’m partial, but I also just love the smell of autumn. It’s crisp and clean, and smells like rich earth.  More than any other time of year, I want to be outside during fall, hiking trails, exploring the woods as the leaves turn, and landscape painting.

When I imagine the ideal landscape painting situation, it always happens to be sometime during the fall, at least in my mind. But that can be tricky. Painting during autumn can mean a lack of vibrant colors if you happen to miss the leaves changing. In that case, you have to make the browns, beiges, blacks, and grays you see something worth painting. To me that means adding dimension to the colors. Reaching for deep blues and purples and reds for earth tones makes a painting come alive in a way that can be subtle but still visually exciting.

Cloudy Autumn by Bennett Vadnais, oil on canvas, landscape painting, 12 x 16, 2006.
Cloudy Autumn by Bennett Vadnais, oil on canvas, landscape painting, 12 x 16, 2006.

I’m also really hyper-conscious of the color that I do find in the landscape when I am in front of my easel. I’ll literally turn around in a circle and allow the landscape as a whole to make a color impression on me. Then, I’ll just jot down a few notes in my notebook about what I saw, or thought I saw. And I will pull color inspirations from a lot of sources–a bright red cardinal’s coloring, for example, could definitely play a part in a painting composition, even if it flits away and I never see it again during my painting session.

When painting landscapes during autumn, I can also focus on my line work in a way that I can’t when all of the trees and greenery are in full bloom. As the foliage thins with the change of the season, I feel that mark making becomes more important. I want to capture the lines of tree limbs, the jagged profiles of cliff sides, and the horizon lines of peaks or mountain ranges, and will use different brushes and different hand positions to achieve the effects I want.

Landscape painting during autumn allows me to deeply connect with nature in a way that I need, because I know soon enough I’ll be warm and cozy indoors as the elements change and grow harsher over the winter months. But that doesn’t mean I stop thinking about the colors of the season. Landscape Painting in Pastel: Fall Color is a DVD resource that gives me so many ideas to consider when it comes to the colors of autumn. And with the vibrancy of pastel, those colors will stay warm and glowing no matter how the landscape in front of us changes with the passage of time. Seize this moment and capture those colors! Fall Color is here to help! Enjoy!

What is your favorite thing to paint during fall? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

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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.   

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