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Artweb Showcase – Contemporary Landscape Painters

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Landscapes have always been a source of fascination for artists. For centuries, the endless horizons of miles where light and weather conditions are constantly changing have attracted painters to the countryside. Even writing that sentence makes you want to run outside with an art easel and paints.

History offers endless examples — from van Gogh’s wheat fields to Monet’s flora and fauna and Constable’s English rolling countryside. There are also wetlands, forests and deserts to add to the mix.

Every artist sees the world differently. It is this endless variety that keeps us fascinated. In order to show how five Artweb artists approach such a vast subject, we selected five landscape artists.

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott, 1082 Big Moor Sunset #2

UK-based artist Steve Elliott is drawn to seasonal changes in one of England’s most famous national parks. “I feel very much at home walking in the Peak District and love being outdoors surrounded by the natural world,” he says. “My inspirations are seasonal changes, expressive skies and transient effects of light and color.

“Light in the landscape energizes and uplifts, and can convey a powerful sense of hope and renewal. Our environment is undergoing dramatic changes. I want to celebrate what we have.”

Gillian Gill

a painting of a dramatic navy blue sky across a sandy beach
Gillian Gill, South To Dunstanburgh

Gillian GillSunderland is a coastal city in the UK, located in the northeast. She spends most of her time photographing the beautiful beaches.

“My oil paintings are inspired by my walks along this coast, the wilder coast of Northumberland, particularly Lindisfarne, as well as visits to the Scottish Isles.

“The constantly changing light, reflecting in the wet sand, inspires me to paint either soft muted blues and ochres, or the dramatic lights and darks of sunshine in stormy skies and sea. The same scene can play out so many moods depending on the weather and time of day or season.”

William Swann

an idyllic painting of a lake with mountains in the background and a small white house in the foreground

Painting en plein-air is the way landscape painters absorb their environment. They do not just see what they are looking at. The work of a plein-air painter gives us a feel for the view, and the emotional qualities of the image.

The following are some examples of how to use William SwannTake on the challenges presented by the wilds of Scotland’s Highlands.

“There is a spiritual dimension to the places I paint and trying to capture that sense and feeling in my work is a challenge,” he explains. “My work is freely painted, much of it with a painting knife. I like working the paint with a knife to produce subtle blended effects as well as texture and broken paint effects.”

Christopher Witchall

realistic painting of a wave crashing on the sand

Christopher WitchallHe uses his camera to capture the details and minutiae that would otherwise be missed when framing a scene.

“My artwork is the result of two passions of mine: a love of traditional painting and drawing techniques and a fascination with the photographic image.

“Armed with a camera at all times, I photograph the world around me;  recording events, familiar and unfamiliar landscapes and seascapes, urban street scenes, observations that evoke memories and (as an artist) anything visually interesting that catches my eye. These are not art photographs but a personal visual journal.”

Some of these photos are used as inspiration for highly realistic paintings and drawings. “They are a marriage between the language and conventions of the photographic image and the processes and techniques of depicting reality in painting and drawing,” he explains.

Mark McLaughlin

en plein air painting of trees and green background that camoflauges into the real background

London-based artist Mark McLaughlin will often work with photography — and more unusually — video in preparation for his oil paintings.

“I work in situ as much as possible when painting in oils, I will make a sketch sometimes to work out the composition and size and record the light at a certain time of day. This is important if you ever want to return and continue the painting.

“I’ll have different-sized primed boards to paint on or make up a canvas to fit the composition especially if they are more panoramic views.

“I do take photos but as an aid and sometimes videos; it’s a great way of reminding yourself of the place and atmosphere when you are back in your studio.”

Mark works in both oil and watercolor mediums — a real challenge when it comes to working in the same space. “My studio is divided up between my watercolor commissions and my oil paintings. So it’s great to work within two different mediums.”


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