Creating a deep interest in landscapes
James McNeil Whistler, the famous landscape painting was right when
he said, "Seldom does nature succeed in producing a picture". What he
meant was that a scene which is breathtaking to the naked eye may appear
less exciting when it is translated into paint on a square sheet of
Often, it is not enough simply to copy the subject in front of you
sometimes you may have to add, subtract or re-group some of the elements
in the scene to create a more balance image.
It simply the means of arranging the parts of your picture so that
they add up to a harmonious whole. A badly composed picture will look
disjointed and faintly irritating. A well-composed picture fits together
in a satisfying way and pleasing to your eye.
Just as a play or film often has one main character and a supporting
cast, so a picture should have one focal point that is, one spot that
draws the eye and which carries the main theme of the painting -
supported by shapes and colours of secondary interest.
Balance and unity
This is what gives balance and unity to the painting. When planning
the composition of a painting, always ask yourself, "What do I want to
emphasise and how should I emphasise it?
Contrasting dark and light tones
There are many ways to draw attention to the focal point which is a
must. There may be something in common to generate excitement in the
area. Choosing the focal point of your painting and planning ways to
accentuate it are the keys to a good design.
To capture and hold the attention of your viewer, always try to
design rhythmic lines that flow into the centre of interest from the
edges of the picture.
If the composition presented by nature is not always ideal, you
should choose your viewpoint carefully and be prepared to alter the
arrangement of things in the interest of making a more balanced and
Observe the painting I have done here. First the focal point, the two
huts placed by the side of a terrace paddy field, thus creating a
balance without boredom. Note how everything is designed to lead the eye
to the focal point while heavy trees give shade to the huts from behind,
and on the right terraced paddy fields give an impression of depth.
The whole picture is beautifully choreographed to guide the eye
without being obstrusive. Figures can make or mar a landscape. It is
always a big decision as to whether to put figures in a landscape or
Be sure that whatever figure you do put in is an integral part of the
picture. They can be used in different ways to give life, movement and
scale to a scene.
Notice the tiny figure on the left a man carrying a basket on his
head and another man in silhouette climbing towards the huts. When you
put figures, be sure they're in the correct scale to each other. The
mountain range at the distance completes the picture as a magnificent
stretch of scenery.
The most dynamic way to create a deep interest is by contrasting the
lightest is by contrasting the lightest and darkest tones to suit the
panoramic view of nature into a striking picture.
The scene here shows how to contrast the darkest and lightest tones
attracting the eye. Harmonious colours and tones give clarity and
strength to the image. The light tone of the road with a bend present
one of the grandest imaginable example of bold mountain scenery.
Light and dark
The trees with dark shapes echo and provide a link between the blues
of the sky and the greens of the landscape.
A flat plain wash gives prominence to the sky. Painting a watercolour
landscape requires patience, constant practice and a high degree of
planning and fore thought. Since watercolours are transparent you cannot
paint a light colour over a dark as the darker colour will show through.
To start painting a watercolour you have to know in advance which
areas of the picture are going to be light and which are going to be
dark and to be prepared to work methodically from light to dark.
If you do not plan things carefully, you may lose control of the
If you make a wrong move, you will find yourself in big trouble. It's
for this reason that so many people are reluctant to take up this medium
to work, only to end up frustrated and disappointed when things do not
work out quite well as they had planned.
The difficulty with watercolours in a hot country such as ours is the
speed of drying even in the shade. the easiest condition to work under
is a bright but overcast light.
Do not be a slave to your subject, break loose from it and let your
enjoyment of it come through in you painting.
We must learn not only the techniques of applying the paint to the
paper, but also we must learn how to look at things with a keen eye.
Constant practice is the only way to get good results.