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Painting Landscapes with Acrylic Paints

Updated on February 22, 2020
Tricia Deed profile image

Tricia Deed enjoys and relaxes with her hobby of painting portraits and landscapes with acrylic paints.

Bluebell Woods, UK

Acrylic painting of Bluebell Woods in the UK countryside.
Acrylic painting of Bluebell Woods in the UK countryside. | Source

What is Landscape Painting?

Drawing, sketching, or painting elements of nature that do not include human beings or animals. There are three categories of this art form.

  • Mountains including creeks and rivers, winding roads, hills, lakes and ponds. The ocean, sunset, and sunrise. Flat land areas such as a desert or plains.

  • Vegetation including trees, shrubbery, assorted plants, flowers, and grasses.

  • Land usage and objects. This would include buildings, highways, and crop farming. Structures such as windmills and bridges.

Painting landscapes is very relaxing and calming. Whether you are painting in the outdoors or copying a photo while painting indoors, the effects are tranquilizing. There are feelings of comfort and well-being. It adds to our quality of life. I would add history. Paintings from hundreds of years ago and into the present show how landscapes have changed throughout the years.

The landscape may be real or imagined.

City Outdoor Painting

Man painting a body of water locted  in front of a  business location.
Man painting a body of water locted in front of a business location. | Source

Landscape Ideas:

Paint a landscape from personal photos and experiences located in your neighborhood or a vacation spot. Everyone has a favorite park, lakeside, beach, or special place for pleasant memories. Your current residence is a good place to start.

Tips and Ideas:

  1. A popular method of capturing the outdoors is to take photos during different times of the day or use photos from your travel adventures. This can be more time saving than sitting outdoors for long periods of time or venturing out on different days hoping to capture the right light effect.

  2. Look around your immediate environment, do you have exceptional scenery that you would like to capture on canvas?

  3. Set up your easel at the beach, your favorite lake site, a mountain site, or a neighborhood park.

  4. Sit by a home window which presents beautiful scenery from the lawn or flower beds.

  5. Review magazines for landscape pictures.

  6. Meditate; then draw and paint a landscape picture from your memory.

Yes, you can add people or animals to your landscape. This is not always easy for some people to do. It can be tricky in certain situations.

The Human Figure:

  • Scale and size of the figures are important.
  • The figures may be detailed or free form.
  • Clothing and tints to suit the environment
  • What is the figure doing?
  • Is it essential to the painting or distracting?

Painting landscapes is very relaxing and rewarding. Artists can capture nature’s beauty and reproduce it on canvas with a variety of painting tools and techniques.

Acrylics dry very quickly and this is the disadvantage of using these paints outdoors. Use an atomizer bottle to spray both the paints and the canvas with water or purchase a Stay-Wet Palette. This is one reason that oil paints are preferred for outdoor painting. They are slow to dry.

Sketch Before Painting

Drawing a sketch before painting. Use either a black and white drawing or use colored pencils.
Drawing a sketch before painting. Use either a black and white drawing or use colored pencils. | Source


You may or may not wish to sketch before starting to paint. I have done it both ways.

Sketching will allow you to make corrections and see the final product in the penciled form. When sketching with a pencil use very light strokes. The acrylic paint may not cover your pencil marks or may require several layers of paint to cover the exposed markings. Using colored pencils will help with coloring choices and is easier to cover up with paint.

Painting without sketching is freedom to be challenged by errors and happy accidents. You will be placed into the unknown. Your colored creation will take many twists and turns as your landscape painting is born on canvas.

Sketching may involve preparing your acrylic paper or your canvas to receive a layer of background paint. Use a soft brush to make a series of horizontal, vertical, or interweave strokes with a soft brush for the intended mental sketch and physical color guidelines for trees, plants, and other vegetation that is planned for the landscape.

Cottage Blue Door, UK

A yellow flower vine arches over cottage doorway from an outdoor planter
A yellow flower vine arches over cottage doorway from an outdoor planter | Source

Painting Principles

There are seven items to consider when drawing, sketching, or painting.

  1. Proportion-The sizes of the objects should be scale-appropriate. It uses perspective techniques.
  2. Order-Begin the landscape outline moving from the background to the foreground.
  3. Repetition-many items will repeat, but their size, frequency, and coloring will vary.
  4. Unity-The painting needs to make sense.
  5. Organization-Be prepared for basic and creative painting techniques and ideas. Art supplies should well stocked and within easy reach.
  6. Balance-There is order in nature. The size, color, and other issues to help enhance your work should complete the visual story.
  7. Texture-The artist creates flat surfaces,smooth, rough, course, silky and more to bring the art piece to life.

The person looking at the painting needs to be in the scenery and experience sensations of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.

Acrylic paints create texture by either thinning with water, layering, or using thick paint directly from its container. Hint: The acrylic paints which are thick in consistency like oil paints have more pigment and are more expensive. ..

Painting Tools

Acrylic painting techniques for painting landscapes is an adventure onto itself. Using different techniqes will produce various results. However, the painting tools and your brush stroke style will create many variables.

How you use your painting tools is critical for creating beautiful landscape art. You may use brushes, palette knives, towels, fingers, paper towels, sponges, craft sticks, and other notions.

The acrylic paint itself will also create interesting textures from watery transparency to thick oil textures. Acrylics are very versatile which will match your artistic style of traditional through experimental.

Horizontal Sky Layers

Paint horizontal strokes across the canvas to map out finished colors.
Paint horizontal strokes across the canvas to map out finished colors. | Source

Brush Stroke Techniques

Horizontal strokes is one technique which has been explained to be used as color sketching which serves as a guideline for freelance landscaping. There are many other techniques which can be used.

Are you preparing a sky?

Horizontal Strokes of tint will prepare the canvas for your sky. As you layer colors of white, blue, lavender and pink you will begin creating a sunrise, sunset, or a beautiful blue sky with light fluffy clouds.

Layering is one of many acrylic painting techniques. It is a brush stroke application which artists may use in painting on their work surface of paper, canvas, fabric, wood, glass, and many other surfaces. Layering can create the illusion and the tactile feel of a rocky road or tree bark.

Thinning paint with water to create a see-through appearance. See-through windows, sheer curtains, rain drops, water from its many sources, and much more.

Blending is an acrylic technique that is wonderful in creating a sunrise or a sunset. As you apply the acrylic layers it will become evident how the colors blend. You will not see where one color begins and where another ends.

Vertical strokes can be utilized to create a lake scene with its reflective look by pulling down the edge of the coastline with your brushstrokes into the water. Your strokes can be as short or as long as your wish.

Use vertical strokes for tall and upright structures. Fill gaps and surface areas where texture is desired with interweaving strokes. I have also found this painting technique fills background paper peek-a-boos and sets a background for shrubbery and other vegetation.

Scrumbling is placing paint on the tip of the brush and then tapping the paint onto the canvas. This technique is excellent for creating clouds, bushes, and other types of foliage.

Fantasy Landscape

Having a problem with reality? Try painting a fantasy landscape.
Having a problem with reality? Try painting a fantasy landscape. | Source

Acrylic Painting Techniques

Acrylic painting will require practicing different types of techniques.

Practicing is our path to understanding how to work tools to create effects desired on canvas. The advantage of working with the acrylics is its versatility.

Do you enjoy water coloring?

These paints can be applied as water coloring, oil painting, or as itself. Thin your tint to the watery consistency you wish; apply to canvas. It is important to use textured paper designed for water coloring. Have a sheet of a paper toweling handy to wipe and stop bleeds as needed.

Do you like the texture found in oil paintings?

This is easily done by layering acrylic paint to desired thickness. Less paint will be needed by purchasing a higher pigment content. As the layers build it will create texture and lifelike dimensional quality as seen in oil paintings. There is acrylic paper and canvases designed for this type of application.

Painting with acrylics

Apply the paint to the selected paper or canvas and start. The versatility of this paint will allow you to use all three methods to create any illusion. Adding water for more transparency, using the paint as it, or layering to create more texture. Acrylics open a world of choices for texture. Have fun with it.

3 Easy Steps to Painting a Mountain with Acrylics

Types of Paints

Do you have a favorite paint?

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    • AbsorbArt profile image


      4 years ago from United States

      Cool hub! The image using the vertical technique with the waves and the surfer is awesome! The color of the waves was a good choice!


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