SAA PA Richard Holland explains how to paint a landscape in Oils.

To find out more about Richard, visit his SAA webpage.  here you will find some video's, artworks and details of how to contact him.

The subject matter used is a landscape, Youlgreave in the Derbyshire Dales. I try to use subject matter that is well lit and has strong contrast between light and shadow. This scene is looking from the river Bradford up to the church in Youlgreave, the path and in the foreground has been extenuated to lead the viewer into the painting along with the figure giving scale using a primary to add interest. I intend to make this painting a loose interpretation based on strong vibrant colours and considered but not to safe brush stokes along with paste medium brush strokes given an overall loose feel.

Materials needed

  • Pencil, softer mars Luna graphic pencil 8B, that doesn’t smudge as much, it will need to be sharpened several times
  • Putty rubber or Eraser
  • Winsor and Newton, Galeria Heavy Carvable Modelling Paste
  • A set four or five different size flat synthetic oil or acrylic brushes + small rounds for details
  • Sansodor

All Winsor and Newton (Winton colours)

  • Under painting colour: Raw Sienna
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Naples Yellow
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Cadmium Red
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Prussian Blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Burnt Umber (Green)

Hints and Tips
I sketch thumbnail sketches all the time, sometimes one would catch my eye and I would need to develop this further. A sketch book is just as important as a camera when looking for inspiration.First Sketch tip 1

When sketching, use a pilot pen rather than pencil, what you capture is more instantaneous, rather than spending time rubbing out pencil marks making sure its perfect.

Try to work from a location you are familiar with, preferably local so you able to re visit the location if you need more information.Medium paste and drawing step 1

Capturing the essence of a composition is important without spending large amounts of time working up an oil painting on location. I would usually do a quick watercolour sketch to capture this and use it as a primary source for my final work.

Watercolour sketch tip 1

Subject matter to be covered:
Youlgreave, in the late afternoon sunshine.

Step one
Adding paste medium and drawing

I will start the painting using heavy modelling paste and a large brush, creating thick wide random brush strokes in all directions over the canvas. I then draw the image out free hand keeping it simple a possible, as when the first block out colour goes on it will obliterate any fine details. I also shad in shaded and darker areas

Step two
Applying a base colour, in this case Raw Sienna

I apply this colour to tonally map out the painting using only using one colour, I rely on the pencil marks and shading mixing with the paint to give me the mid tones and darker tones with high lighted areas appearing from areas with little or no pencil marksMid tones step 3

Step Three
Blocking out with the darkest colours first

At this stage I will start to block out areas in the correct colours, but the darkest colours I can see within these areas. I generally screw my eyes up to make out these colours.

When Appling oil paint the terminology used is painting fat over lean, fat referring to the layering an application of neat paint once the under paint is done, lean referring to the application of the under paint itself. When Appling a lean layer of paint, make sure you apply this with thinner (not to much to make it watery, but not to little to be painting it almost neat to the canvas.

Step four

Starting to apply the lighter areas of colour

At this stage I will start to build up the lighter colours trying to make the most of the contrast between light a dark. During this stage I will start to use my brush slightly differently using a dragging motion and placing the paint in some areas, thickening this layer considerably to avoid muddying up the paint. Applying the paint this way allows a lot of the darker colours underneath to show through. I use a range if colours that I would consider not to be truly realistic to keep the loose feeling evident.

Underpaint tonal step 2

When apply a layer of paint to the canvas I use a range mainly flat ended brush of different sizes to achieve the desired object shapes, also to stop contamination of tones when applying.

Step five
Painting the sky

It this stage I have a base blue to work with and will then start to apply lighter whites, mauves and of blues using a very large flat brush in a random style not recreating a realistic sky but a loose plausible sky raging this occasionally to blend. With the trees still being wet at this stage I run the sky into these and then use my finger to blur the edge to not give the paint to much of a hard edge between sky and land.

Step six
This is the last stage that brings everything together

This final stage is when the brush is solely used and a placing device. I try not to play to safe at this stage using vivid bright colours and applying them not knowing what the outcome will be until the stroke has been applied. This tends to add an edge that being to safe and defined doesn’t achieve.

Youlgreve oil final step 6

I tend to add between 10 and 15 of these. Too many will overkill the painting dragging lighter colours over some of the medium paste marks applied at the outset also give some fantastic effect not achieved by just painting alone. Areas in which I have done this are the fields beside the church with lemon yellow.

In the trees areas, dragging the paint across the paste marks. I have used them in the fields to give light against the strong shadow area, also along the foot path and grass verges. One area that does work well is the single light brush stroke on both distant walls. The figure and the two dogs again are just positioned brush strokes, and even in the sky to finish it of there are large white and buff titanium strokes to simplify the clouds.