Bring Together the Outdoors and Indoors In Your Landscape Paintings

8 Oct 2013

Distant Echo Nocturne by Alice Dalton Brown, 2009, oil painting on canvas, 52"x30".
Distant Echo Nocturne
by Alice Dalton Brown,
2009, oil painting on canvas, 52"x30".
Whether I’m landscape painting or painting interiors, I’m always drawn to the curious, in-between places where the outdoors and indoors meet. This could be an ivy-smothered barn that almost looks like it is disappearing into the landscape, or an ocean view from an open window. The places where architecture and the natural world collide make a composition eye-catching and compelling because they integrate elements that we usually think of as distinct and separate. Bringing them together creates a tension that some of the landscape paintings I like best have in common.

Contemporary realist painter Alice Dalton Brown is a pro at finding and painting this kind of composition. She’ll paint an exterior view of a house with a hint of shrubs and grass against an open door casting a shadow on the wall. I’m instantly transported to this dual space—where the cool, dim interior of the house and the warm, summertime atmosphere of the landscape meet right at the door.

Ohio Shed by Alice Dalton Brown, 1978, oil painting on canvas, 30x48”.
Ohio Shed by Alice Dalton Brown,
1978, oil painting on canvas, 30x48”.
Brown also creates mesmerizing views of the ocean and sea from the vantage point of a window or doorway that make the viewer feel like he or she is all but floating in a house that is right on the edge of surging waters. But Brown doesn’t need much to achieve this effect. She paints a window frame or even just a curtain as the indicators that you are inside a house. The outdoors are brought in to the painting through the view out the window and through the way the curtain is manipulated so that it looks like a breeze is blowing. The sunlight seems white hot, and the water is an unbelievable deep blue, but the interior spots that Brown creates are equally inviting because they offer shade and relative coolness.
 
Aegean by Alice Dalton Brown, 2008, oil painting on canvas, 48x48”.
Aegean by Alice Dalton Brown,
2008, oil painting on canvas, 48x48”.
Landscape art doesn’t just have to be about the natural world. Signs of a human presence, if subtle, can be incorporated in interesting ways, like in Brown’s paintings. But what allows Brown to succeed in her works is a strong attention to detail and command of her chosen medium. When she paints with oil on canvas, she manipulates the pigments in such a way that the fine weave of a curtain, its seams, and how it moves in the breeze are all convincingly reproduced. The foundations of these successes are Brown’s plein air studies and photo collages. The former are especially worthwhile because they allow the artist to see and paint almost simultaneously. There's no hesitation or deliberation—she just does it.

That surety is something I strive for every time I paint a landscape watercolor painting, which is a challenge considering how deft your strokes have to be to make it come out right. I am always looking to improve my skills and the Chinese Watercolor Premium Palette is a great place to start if you are looking to gain confidence in your abilities to paint with watercolors. In this artist's kit, you'll learn how to improve your brushstrokes and mix colors with accuracy, how to create the right perspective and capture a range of moods in your landscapes, floral still lifes and more, plus gaining insight on the centuries-old traditions of Chinese painting. And most of all you will learn to problem-solve as you work at a rapid pace, so when you paint your next watercolor painting you have a command of the medium that will allow you to create the work you envision.    


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