How to create landscape art on canvas

Creating landscape paintings can be a rewarding and enjoyable artistic endeavor. Painting on canvas is a popular choice for artists due to various practical, aesthetic, and historical reasons. Canvas is a versatile material that accommodates various painting styles and techniques. Artists can work with acrylics, oils, or mixed media on canvas, allowing for flexibility and experimentation.

Why on canvas?

Canvas provides a textured surface that adds depth and character to paintings. The texture of canvas can enhance brushstrokes and contribute to the overall tactile quality of the artwork. Canvas absorbs paint in a way that can contribute to the drying time of the artwork. This can be advantageous for artists who want to work with wet-on-wet techniques or build up layers over time. While canvas is a popular choice, it’s important to note that artists have a range of surfaces to choose from, including paper, wood, metal, and more. The selection of a painting surface often depends on the artist’s preferences, the desired aesthetic, and the intended techniques for a particular artwork. Nature is ever-changing, and landscapes provide artists with an opportunity to capture the fleeting moments of light, weather, and atmosphere. The challenge of capturing the transient qualities of the natural world adds a dynamic and time-sensitive aspect to landscape painting.

Why landscapes?

Painting landscapes allows artists to forge a deep and personal connection with nature. The process of observing, interpreting, and recreating natural scenes fosters a profound appreciation for the environment. Landscapes provide a versatile canvas for expressing a wide range of emotions. Whether it’s the serenity of a tranquil lake, the power of a stormy sky, or the vibrancy of a sunset, landscapes offer a visual language to convey feelings and moods. Nature is ever-changing, and landscapes provide artists with an opportunity to capture the fleeting moments of light, weather, and atmosphere. The challenge of capturing the transient qualities of the natural world adds a dynamic and time-sensitive aspect to landscape painting. Landscapes provide an excellent opportunity to study the effects of light and color. Artists can experiment with capturing the changing hues of the sky, the play of sunlight on various surfaces, and the interplay of colors in different seasons.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:


  1. Canvas or Painting Surface:
    • Choose a canvas or painting surface that suits your preferences. You can use stretched canvases, canvas boards, or even wood panels.
  2. Paints:
    • Acrylics, oils, or watercolors are common choices for landscape painting. Select a medium based on your comfort level and desired effects.
  3. Brushes:
    • Have a variety of brushes, including flat, round, and filbert brushes, for different brushstrokes and details.
  4. Palette:
    • Use a palette for mixing colors. A palette with a range of wells allows you to mix and experiment with various color combinations.
  5. Palette Knife:
    • A palette knife is useful for creating texture, especially in impasto techniques.
  6. Easel:
    • An easel can provide a comfortable and adjustable working surface.
  7. Palette Cup and Water (for acrylics):
    • If you’re using acrylics, have a palette cup for water to clean your brushes.
  8. Rags or Paper Towels:
    • These are handy for wiping brushes or creating texture in the painting.
  9. Reference Material:
    • Gather reference material, such as photographs or sketches, for inspiration. Alternatively, you can paint en plein air (outdoors) for a direct observation of landscapes.


  1. Choose a Landscape:
    • Decide on the type of landscape you want to paint. It could be a serene countryside, a coastal scene, a mountain range, or an urban landscape. Consider the mood and atmosphere you want to convey.
  2. Sketch the Composition:
    • Create a rough sketch of your composition on the canvas. Determine the placement of major elements such as the horizon, mountains, trees, and any focal points.
  3. Establish the Horizon Line:
    • Define the horizon line, which represents the separation between the sky and the land or water. This line is crucial for creating a sense of perspective.
  4. Block In the Sky:
    • Start by blocking in the sky. Consider the time of day and the atmospheric conditions, and choose appropriate colors. Blend the colors smoothly or use brushstrokes to create a sense of movement.
  5. Paint the Background Elements:
    • Paint the distant elements such as mountains or faraway trees. Use lighter and cooler colors to create the illusion of distance. Pay attention to perspective and size relationships.
  6. Midground Elements:
    • Move on to the midground elements, such as hills, closer trees, or bodies of water. Use warmer and more vibrant colors compared to the background.
  7. Foreground Elements:
    • Paint the foreground elements, which are the closest to the viewer. Add details and textures to create depth. Use darker and more intense colors for emphasis.
  8. Add Details:
    • Focus on adding details to enhance the realism of your landscape. This may include individual trees, rocks, reflections in water, or other specific features.
  9. Create Texture:
    • Use a palette knife or various brush techniques to create texture. This can be especially effective for depicting grass, foliage, or the rugged surfaces of rocks.
  10. Refine and Adjust:
    • Step back and assess your painting. Make any necessary adjustments to balance the composition, adjust colors, or refine details.
  11. Final Touches:
    • Add any final touches or highlights to bring attention to specific areas. Consider the play of light and shadows to add dimension.
  12. Allow to Dry:
    • If you’re using acrylics, allow the painting to dry completely. For oils, consider the drying time and any varnishing that may be needed.

Remember that creating landscape paintings is a personal and creative process. Experiment with techniques, colors, and compositions to develop your own style and capture the beauty of the natural world. Canvases are available pre-primed with gesso, a primer that creates a smooth and stable surface for painting. This preparation enhances the archival quality of the artwork and minimizes the risk of paint deterioration. Some canvases come with staple-free edges, allowing artists to paint around the sides or wrap the painting over the edges. This eliminates the need for framing and provides a contemporary and finished look.

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