How To Paint A Landscape – Step By Step (Part 1)

How To Paint A Landscape – Step By Step


In this series on how to paint a landscape I will take you step-by-step through one of the projects in our online course Painting Landscapes – Level 2.

Painting landscapes is one of the most rewarding challenges an artist can have as it gives us the opportunity to capture a moment in time in a way that a photo will never be able to. Landscape painting allows the artist to highlight that which he /she connects with in the landscape. Traditionally landscape painting has been the focus of most artists however true landscape painting has been on the decline in recent years.

In this two part article I want to give you a step-by-step overview of how I approach painting a landscape.

Note: The best way to learn to paint landscapes is from life. In this particular painting I had been to the location, walked around and taken lots of photos that I was using as reference for the painting. So make sure you are either painting on location (plein air) or working from a real life subject. Trying to paint landscapes from your imagination can only lead to imaginary looking paintings.


I start out every landscape painting by doing a quick sketch. Using a mix of Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin Crimson I outline the main shapes in the landscape. The key here is to simplify everything you see in the landscape into a hand full of large shapes. When you do your drawing as above the goal is to place these large shapes on the canvas in a pleasing composition. At this point I will use some artistic license if need be to move things around so that I end up with a composition that will be pleasing to the viewer.

When I am happy with the sketch I start to work on the sky. I am using a pastry brush (thanks to Robert Hagan) as the main brush I use for most of the painting. The sky is painted with Cobalt Blue and a little Titanium White and just a pin head of Alizarin Crimson. Notice that my brush strokes are random and I keep the brush moving to give the feel of movement to the sky.

In the lower part of the sky I add more Titanium White to the mix to lighten the sky as it gets closer to the horizon. I also start to work in some clouds. These are Titanium White with some Yellow Ochre to warm the clouds up. I rough them in initially and will come back to work on them some more later on. At this point the sky is quite wet as I have used a fair amount of thinner in painting in the sky … so now is the time to move on to another area to give the sky I chance to dry off a little.

Now I work on my most distant mountains. In order to have these look like they are in the distance you want to get the value and colour right. The value needs to be darker than the sky at the horizon but light enough to keep them in the distance. Using mostly blue helps to keep the mountains looking distant. Notice I take some time to work around the foliage of the middle distance trees. This can be a little tricky to do so you need to be patient.

Next comes the layer of mountains that are closer to us. Notice that it is a darker value … more Alizarin Crimson is used to darken the mix. You can see how it has pushed the first row of mountains back into the distance. Remember that all painting is about creating the illusion of three dimensions on a two dimensional canvas.

Moving forward I start to paint in the fields behind our center of interest which is the farm sheds and buildings. This is just Yellow Ochre with Titanium White. I also grey down the colour by using some of the mix that I used to get the initial sketch in. When you grey the colour down it helps to make it look more distant. Objects that are closer to us have increased colour saturation and as they go into the distance the saturation decreases (ie they grey  down).

I am now about to start on the middle distance and foreground fields. Notice I am still using the pastry brush at this stage as we block in the main shapes with the correct value and colour.

With the middle distance and foreground fields I start off with a light mix and low saturation. As it comes forward towards the viewer I strengthen the mix and saturation of colour. I also warm up the foreground more by introducing some Burnt Sienna and some Cadmium Orange. A good rule to remember is that warm colours come forward and cool colours go back into the distance. Notice the shadow of the main trees now plays an important role for a number of reasons … first it is a cool colour which contrasts nicely against the warm fields, and secondly it just breaks up the larger shape of the fields to keep it more interesting.

Now I move to a key part of the painting which is the farm sheds and equipment. I am now using the small flat brush. The key here is that I am just making marks to indicate the farm sheds etc. I am not actually trying to paint them directly. By giving the impression that these buildings and equipment are in the landscape the eye of the viewer and the mind fill in the blanks. Importantly around the lighter colour farm buildings I am adding in shadow colours of trees and bushes at the back. Again this is to create contrast in this focal area.

It is time now to move on to our middle distance and main trees. First thing I want to do is mix up a strong dark and strengthen all of the darks. This includes the tree trunks and branches as well as the foliage. For the middle distance trees we do not use as strong a dark as the foreground trees.

Well at this point we have blocked in all of the main shapes with the right colours and values. You will know if you have this right because you should already be seeing some depth in the painting.

Next week we will finish off the painting with the refinement and finishing touches.

If you want to learn more about landscape painting then please take a look at our online courses Painting Landscapes – Level 1 and Painting Landscapes – Level 2.

Leave your comments and questions below and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


My Art Anniversary

This month brings up the two year mark since I started painting in oils and taking my painting more seriously.

Up until November 2010 I had dabbled for a couple of years in watercolour but mostly ended up frustrated 🙁

In November 2010 I decided to have a go at oil painting. Mostly because I wanted to do a painting for my father for Christmas who was very ill at the time … that’s what my motivation was at the time. This later led to passion which became an obsession 🙂

What a ride it has been over the two years. In that time I have learned a few things about painting in oils, became the only Australian certified teacher of the Alexander Art Method, started Moore Art School and helped lots of beginners paint their first ever paintings, sold my first paintings, was involved in the Double Door Studios project with Made In Geelong where I met some great people including Killian Mulcahy who together with the beautiful Sue Moore we started a TV show Plein Air Painting TVwhich was initially broadcast on C31 Melbourne then nationally around Australia, took part in my first exhibitions, found a mentor in Robert Hagan Artist who has helped me improve greatly … and a whole lot more.

Two years in I feel like I am making some progress with my painting and starting to get a handle on it. I am looking forward to the next two years.

So to everyone who has supported me during this time, bought a painting, liked one of my Facebook posts, been to an art class, watched the TV show, given me tips and lessons to improve or shared some words of encouragement … a huge thank you!

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Episode 3 – The Artists Journey “Lesson From A Master”

Welcome to the third episode of the podcast The Artists Journey.

In this third episode of The Artists Journey I talk about a recent lesson I received from a master painter Robert Hagan. We all need mentors and teachers who are right for us at our current level of development as an artist. I have been learning everything I can from Robert … but this one lesson really struck me. I discuss this in our podcast this week.


Download Episode 3 Here (Right Mouse click and save to your computer)

Here are the seagull photos I took. You are free to use these if you want to take up the challenge.

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The Joy Of Painting

The Joy Of Painting was a TV show hosted by Bob Ross. In The Joy Of Painting Bob Ross would complete a painting using the wet on wet oil painting technique.

Here are some videos of The Joy Of Painting by Bob Ross:

Moore Art School is founded on the wet on wet oil painting technique taught by Bob Ross in The Joy Of Painting.

If you want to learn more about painting in the wet

Free Painting Videos

Here is some more information on Bob Ross from his website:

Bob Ross, Television’s Favorite Artist

You’ve seen him before. He’s the soft spoken guy painting happy clouds, mountains and trees in about twenty-six television minutes, using big housepainting-type brushes and cooing soothing “you can do its” to the audience. His Joy of Painting program is the most recognized, most watched TV art show in history.

The artist – Bob Ross – a virtual cult-like figure among varying age groups all around the world, is about more than just painting, however. Millions of viewers agree that his quiet, nurturing disposition is a form of therapy for the weary, and his respect for nature and wildlife (popular guests include lovable baby squirrels and birds) has helped environmental awareness.

A native of Orlando, Florida, Bob Ross began painting at the age of 18 when he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Alaska. He took various art courses at universities and colleges, and after seeing Bill Alexander on television, he developed and personalized his very own quick and unique Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet Technique ®.

In 1981, Bob began touring the U.S. to teach his painting style, when one of his students was profoundly struck by his charisma in the classroom. “I saw and felt magic happening,” Annette Kowalski explains, “and asked myself, was there a way to share this joy with everyone?” A business partnership was formed – the Bob Ross Company – an active, thriving behind-the-scenes organization that today celebrates over 25 years of operation.

The first of his low-budget, unrehearsed and unedited “Joy of Painting” programs aired in 1982; twenty-five years and 403 shows later, “The Joy of Painting” is still the most popular, most watched art show, if not “how-to” program, on television.

“The Joy of Painting” is carried by nearly 450 public television stations throughout the United States, accessing more than 93.5 million households, and is broadcast in foreign countries as well; Japan, Mexico, The Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Turkey, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Costa Rica and Canada, with inquiries emerging from other countries too.

The response is overwhelming; literally hundreds of letters and email messages pour in each week from viewers of all ages, from around the globe. The rehabilitating powers of the Bob Ross method of painting have been put to use in many programs for youth, senior citizens, handicapped persons, and the like throughout the country. Bob is proud of the fact that while art has traditionally been accessible to only a select few, his technique is for everyone.

The paints, brushes and other equipment for this technique was devised by Bob Ross, and there is a wide range of instructional materials, including books (over 5 million in print), packets, videos, an art club and interactive web site. A new Ross-style flower painting technique was launched based on giant public demand, followed by a wildlife technique in keeping with the Ross “easy-does-it” approach. Almost 3,000 traveling certified instructors teach daily local Bob Ross painting classes in the United States and in other countries.

People Magazine, USA Today, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Far Side, TV Guide, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications have printed stories about Bob Ross. He’s been the guest on the Joan Rivers Show, the Phil Donahue Show, Regis and Kathy Lee, CBS This Morning, The Today Show and others.

But there may be more to “The Joy of Painting’s” enormous popularity than meets the eye. Many of Bob’s most faithful viewers are not painters at all. They are relaxing and unwinding with Bob’s gentle manner and encouraging words, captivated by the magic that takes place on canvas.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Just what is the Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet Technique ® ? “Wet on wet” refers to the method of applying wet paint on top of wet paint, omitting the traditional wait for each layer to dry. Using special firm oil paints and starting with a wet-based canvas, paints are glided across the canvas with a large brush or palette knife – making clouds, mountains and trees appear in seconds.

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Episode 2 – The Artists Journey “Wet On Wet Oil Painting”

Welcome to the second episode of the podcast The Artists Journey.

In this second episode of The Artists Journey I talk about the wet on wet oil painting method made popular by Bill Alexander and Bob Ross. I will discuss both the pros and cons of the method and explain how the Moore Method of Painting adapts the wet on wet oil painting method to make it more flexible for beginners.


Download Episode 2 Here (Right Mouse click and save to your computer)



Oil on Canvas – 16″ x 20″ Framed

By Rod Moore

This is a recent painting I completed partially using the Wet on Wet oil painting method.

This painting is for sale so contact me if you are interested.

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Wet On Wet Oil Painting – Tropical Hideaway

Here is a new video demonstrating the wet on wet oil painting technique.

Many of you will be familiar with the wet on wet oil painting technique as taught by Bob Ross and Bill Alexander. Moore Art School was founded on the wet on wet oil painting technique and Rod Moore is Australia’s only Alexander Certified Instructor teaching classes in this technique.

At Moore Art School we have taken the wet on wet painting approach and modified it creating what we call the Moore Method of Painting.

Enjoy this painting demonstration of Tropical Hideaway in the wet on wet painting method:

Click Here To Watch Part 2

Click Here To Watch Part 3

Here is the finished painting:

This painting is currently being taught at some of our 1 day workshops … check the Calendar of Events

Leave your questions, comments and feedback below.

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Step By Step Painting Demonstration – Alpine Mountains

The following is a step-by-step demonstration of a painting of an Alpine Mountain scene.

The painting was created for the May DVD of Month Club members and we filmed the entire process discussing each step in detail. The DVD of this painting will be about 2 hours in length. Along the way I took progress photos of the painting and thought it might be of value to explain the steps to you.


The painting itself was inspired by a quick twenty minute sketch from one of the DVD's on composition from the Get Started Painting – Home Study course. The sketch was to illustrate the S type composition. So I decided it was a great exercise as it also demonstrates ariel perspective and a number of other key compositional elements.

The outline drawing is completed using Ultramarine Blue & Alizarin Crimson mixture. I loosely sketch in the main shapes looking mostly for correct placement and to make sure the composition works.

I start the painting with the distant mountain range to get the value right. It needs to be light enough to show its in distance yet still contrast against the light sky. Both are done with varying mixtures of Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White.

I then add snow caps onto the distant mountain on the light side and some shadow colours on the darker side of the snow capped mountains. This gave these mountains a greater sense of distance. The next two mountains are added in getting darker in value the close they get to the viewer. The closest mountain has Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre in the mix.

I start blocking in the distant fields and the base colour for the river. The fields are just various mixes of Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ocher and Cadmium Yellow.

I continue blocking in the fields getting darker as they get closer. I have started working on the distant trees putting a dark value on the trees closest to us. In the distance I have added highlights to the trees surrounding the house giving them more shape and volume. I have added rocks into the foreground water using Burnt Umber.

The final steps are to finish off with details … all of the trees get highlight colours added. I have varied the colours to keep the trees interesting. The house is painted in and smoke added to create a sense of life. White water is painted into the river especially in the foreground, cows added in and the fence line is used to create even more depth in the painting.

The process we have used is one we call the Moore Method of painting. It is following 3 simple steps:

1/ Drawing – Focusing on big shapes and ensuring you have the right composition and perspective

2/ Blocking In – Establishing base values and blocking in base colours

3/ Highlights & Details – The finishing touches bring the painting to life

If you would like to see the complete film of the painting where I talk you through every step and brush stroke then join the DVD of Month Club and you will receive the DVD of this painting in May.

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