landscape painting class.


Landscape painting class

Our oil painting class meets on the last Wednesday of every month, but the weather has been so bad this spring it is only now we are able to work outside in the landscape.


lesson peinture à l'huile

Fields at Salvazou.


This week the morning was cold and dull, but the the forecast was fine for the afternoon and we were able to take the paints and easels up to Salvazou, one of our local villages.

In the centre of Salvazou there is a view over the fields towards the distant houses and trees, I thought it made a fair composition and a chance to deal with the colour issues of distance.

In the studio we looked at the construction of the composition, considering the problems that it might throw up. The horizontal can be particularly tricky for the landscape painter. To achieve an interesting and balanced composition in can help to lead the eye in other directions away from the horizontal through line and colour.

In his excellent blog, Mitchell Albala, the American landscape painter, talks about ‘Notan’, a Japanese word which translates as ‘dark-light harmony.

This is the simplified arrangement of dark and light masses which served as the foundation of our composition.



When working on in the landscape it is well worth taking the time to do a small thumb nail sketch in order to block in the dominant shapes and see how they can fit together as if they were pieces of a puzzle. This assessing of tonal values is easier  to do when you squint at the scene through half closed eyes.



I used photo-shop here to pick out the colour in the background trees (bluer) and in the middle field (yellower) to compare them with the grass in the foreground. It’s not that I think it is necessarily a good idea to try to faithfully mix in oil the colours we see, somehow we need to find equivalents, but it is good to be aware of the variations of colour even in a scene with such evidently vibrant greens.

Exaggerating colour changes in the landscape can help to give balance and interest.

cours de peinture à l'huile
landscape painting class

landscape painting class

cours de peinture à l'huile

Our oil painting class at work.

peinture à l'huile


I worked on a 20x20cm primed hardboard with a wet coat of salmon oil paint slightly rubbed down; The wet paint undercoat forces me to use light and rapid brush strokes to avoid the oil paints becoming laboured and muddy.


detail. Fields at Salvazou.


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