Anselm Kiefer is not a landscape painter by any stretch of
the imagination, and yet his incredibly powerful work is based in and of the
land. Observing his mixed media paintings and sculpture has taught me a lot
about what a truly impactful landscape painting can be-and one thing that I
realize it doesn't have to be is picture
Perfection does not equal a powerful or moving piece of art.
Perfection can sometimes be arid, lifeless, and a bit boring. Kiefer's works incorporate
many time-honored approaches on how to paint and how to create dynamic
landscape painting compositions, but he doesn't use beauty as a crutch.
Strong angles: The aspect of Kiefer's work that I puzzle
over again and again is how obvious he is about using strong angles, and yet it
all seems to slip under the radar once you are actually in front of the work. The
lines can be furrows in a barren field, levels of a step pyramid, train tracks,
or tree lines, but they all give a forceful sense of movement wherever they
|Einschusse by Anselm Kiefer, oil, emulsion, and acrylic with mixed media.
Color: Kiefer is not one to go wild with color. He tends
toward muted pigments, but that doesn't mean they aren't faceted and interesting.
A white in his hands can contain blue, grey, and even black, and yet it looks
realistic and engaging. And when he does use color, it is like you've stumbled
upon something amazing because the colors seem so saturated and jewel-like.
|Let the Earth Be Opened and Send Forth a Savior by Anselm Kiefer, mixed media painting.
Large shapes: Notice that in almost all of Kiefer's
paintings, he doesn't go small-ever. He works with large shapes, big forms, and
accentuates bold gestures. To me, this shows that the artist has a distilled,
focused vision. He's winnowed away all the excess and frippery, and works with
what really matters in each art piece.
|Osiris and Isis by Anselm Kiefer, mixed media painting.
But no matter how much I admire Kiefer's work, he is not
alone in my art "hall of fame." In fact, our Step-by-Step Landscape Painting Instruction eBook features several
artists whose works I also can't get enough of. Step-by-Step Landscape Painting Instruction is our newest eBook and
is devoted entirely to the power of Mother Nature and how artists and
instructors all over the world harness it in their work. I don't have a better
starting point for taking all the inspiration from Kiefer and all the rest than
by "flipping" through it. I hope it is the same for you!
I've also created a bonus blog of more tips for good
landscape paintings based on Kiefer's work for you all! Enjoy!