3 Most Common Landscape Mistakes

I get sent many landscape paintings by readers. Unfortunately, I can’t critique all of them, but here are the three most common mistakes (or areas for improvement) I see:

– Painting something you’re not interested in. Many artists seem to struggle to find something to paint. Eventually, they just paint anything, even if they can’t see it as a finished painting. If the subject doesn’t excite or inspire you, then you will struggle to make the painting work.

That’s not to say everything you paint needs to be an inspired masterpiece. Sometimes, I like to just pick up my brush and paint whatever is in front of me. But for the most part, you need to spend time and effort looking for a great subject to paint.

– Overusing black or white. They are powerful colors, but they can so easily overpower a painting. Many aspiring artists reach for titanium white whenever they need a highlight, and black whenever they need a dark shadow. Branch out and use more color. Consider using blues, reds, greens, yellows, grays. If you need an example, look at any of the top Impressionist paintings up close. John Russell comes to mind.

– Poor composition choice. Objects cropped in half, focal points in the corner or smack-bang in the middle, repetitive or unnatural shapes. Remember, a poor composition won’t make a good painting no matter how well you paint it. You need to be thinking about composition before you even pick up a brush. Edgar Payne’s book, Composition of Outdoor Painting, has some great information on this.

Are you making these mistakes? No worries if you are. That just means you have an area to improve.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott