Steps in Painting Landscapes (with video)


  • An easel
  • A canvas
  • Paints
  • A filbert brush
  • Water
  • A jar
  • Rags
  • A palette
  • A pencil
  • And a sketchpad


Step 1

Choose your paint

Choose if you want to work in oil, acrylic or watercolor. Whatever you decide, choose the appropriate paints for your medium.

Step 2

Get a filbert brush

Leave all of your brushes at home except for a single filbert brush. As you progress in landscapes, add and experiment with other brushes.

Step 3

Bring water and rags

Bring lots of water and rags.

Step 4

Set up your easel

In the middle of the day, go set up your easel In a comfortable location that has a good view.

The light changes the least over a given number of hours in the middle of the day.

Step 5

Sketch your drawing

Using the pencil, sketch your painting on your sketch pad. Make only very rough shapes — triangles, arcs, blobs —to give it a general look and feel.

Painting is less about the medium (paint, pastel, pencil) and more about how you create the image. Drawings use lines. Paintings use shape.

Step 6

Work out values

When you’re happy with the composition, it’s time to work out the values, or lightness and darkness. On a scale of 1 to 10, choose a key object with a middle value.

Step 7

Eye the composition

Eye your composition, or structure. What’s lighter than the object you chose? What’s darker? What’s in between and by how much?

Step 8

Choose values for all other objects

Using that value as your key, begin choosing values for all of the other objects in your composition.

Step 9

Color your key object

Once you’re done, turn to the canvas and select a color for the key object.

You will probably need to mix paints to get the value you need.

Step 10

Paint the rough key object

Paint the rough shape of your key object.

Wash your brush thoroughly between colors in your jar of water. Dry on a rag.

Step 11

Paint another object

Choose an object touching your key object. Choose a color and assign it a middle value. Paint its rough shape. Stick to the middle values, avoiding highlights and shadows at this stage.

Step 12

Keep painting

Keep working around your composition until you’ve blocked off the whole piece.

Step 13

Appraise composition

Step back and look at your composition. Does it feel right?

Step 14

Assign and develop contrast

Now go back in to your piece and begin assigning and painting colors with more accurate values for ever-smaller shapes around the piece. Your contrast will begin to develop.

Start with lighter values, then move toward darker values.

Step 15

Add shadows

Add in your shadows in. Generally, you’ll want a cooler color. Avoid pure black.

Step 16

Add highlights

Finally, add the highlights. These will be something in the family of the color of your light source, but avoid pure white.

Step 17

Sign and date the painting

When you’re satisfied with your painting, sign the front, and, when it’s dry, use a marker on the back to identify the title, place, and date.


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