Landscape, mood, quick oil sketches

I’ve been musing a lot on ‘the landscape’ over the last little while and what it means to me.
By ‘musing’ I of course mean ‘obsessing’.

I read a lot of art blogs and mags that talk about how to paint the landscape and how they go about ‘adding mood’. It has been confusing me for a while as to what they actually mean when they say ‘adding mood’ because often I get nothing from looking at the picture that is meant to be evocative in some way… and I finally figured out why it was i was unmoved – mostly they mean nothing when they say ‘add mood’ and there is in fact no mood.

Deepening shadows, adding figures, and adding a seagull to a landscape, does not equate to making a painting sing or mean anything more if it’s totally boring and the painter has just painted it for something to paint.

A lot of paintings out there are utterly without mood as they are utterly without soul (MINE INCLUDED). A painting that is painted so that one can just do a ‘scene’ and where the painter has no emotional commitment while doing  the painting, just doesn’t work, no matter how technically savvy the painter is or how many tricks they can pull out.

I tried to do a few of the tutes where they try and get you to paint a scene but I can’t do it cause I hate all the scenes they want me to paint, and I resent being told what to paint. This is also why I started an online arts course and gave up, I really disliked the entire curriculum and what we had to paint.

I’ve seen a number of paintings that are technically good but they are just nothing to look at, they leave you cold. A good rendering of a scene and cleverly done, does not make it a good scene.

I’m not going by specific genera here either – realism or impressionism or surrealism or portraits or landscapes or abstract art, they all have great pictures and naff pictures.

I saw the renaissance exhibition in Canberra a few years ago – hundreds of fat baby jesuses that left my skin crawling with unease – babies and Marys, badly drawn and badly rendered and out of proportion and creepy, and every now and then, something lovely that caught the eye and made you stare at it.

I went through the art gallery the other day and there are pictures that jump out and yell KAPOW! – and there are pictures that say ‘hey, I’m really well done…yeah I’d not bother looking at me either’.

It’s made me turn to look at my stuff and go ‘what am I and where am I after’. And what I want to get towards, is to do pictures that make people go ‘gosh, wow. I want that on my wall. I want to look at it’.  Every now and then I do this by accident and now it’s time to figure out how to do this now ON PURPOSE.

I wonder if all artists out there have no real idea what they’re doing until it’s done. This is what I always do – i start something and then make it up as I go. Actually this is also how I do woodwork, with some *interesting* results….

To me, I think my rules are :
I have to be committed to the subject and actually love it and want to paint it.

I have to enjoy the process. I’m a process painter more than a results painter.

I have to evoke something. If I do a dry landscape I want to look at it and want a drink of water. If I do a beach scene I want to think about the smell of the sea and want to be there jumping in the waves. I want the picture to evoke the thing. Mood is creating a feeling, not putting in some darks to ‘evoke mood’. You have to know what mood you want and paint that . I in specific need to be a bit more aware of what it is I’m trying to achieve.

That being said, I’ve been trying to do some quick (2 hour) oil sketches to get my hand in and just technically get better at landscape.

The first:lake at wyperfeld

This is a view from the middle of the dry lake at wyperfeld national park. there is a rim of trees. I like the sky. I almost like the trees. I’m not so happy about the ground.

The second:


Sand dunes, with a strand of mallee eucalyptus in the foreground. I’m happier with this one, it is more like the sort of thing I’m aiming for. it looks hot and bright as indeed the day was. There is more green in this shot too, though that’s artistic license.

Painting eucalyptus shouldn’t be so freaking hard.

Still not enough soul. 🙂

2 responses to “Landscape, mood, quick oil sketches

  1. Something I’ve found is a picture can “speak” to me yet it means absolutely nothing to njh. He’ll say “Yeah, it’s a painting” and I’ll be all ZOMG!!!! It’s the BEST EVAH! Can’t you SEE???
    So what has soul to one person may not to another.

  2. yeah, that is the way with most paintings. it’s like people too. you wonder how some people get friends cause you either can’t stand them or dislike them but they seem to have a bunch of folk who like them. like love too!

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