How To Paint Landscapes With Acrylics

How to paint landscapes with acrylics – Embark on an artistic journey with this comprehensive guide to landscape painting with acrylics. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a novice with a passion for nature, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to create stunning acrylic landscapes that capture the essence of the natural world.

From understanding color theory and composition to mastering brushwork and creating depth, this guide will take you through every step of the painting process. Discover the secrets of painting realistic skies, water, trees, and mountains, and learn how to add finishing touches that elevate your artwork to the next level.


Painting landscapes with acrylics offers a unique blend of allure and challenges. Acrylics, known for their versatility, quick drying time, and vibrant colors, provide a compelling medium for capturing the essence of natural scenes.

However, the nuances of painting landscapes with acrylics require careful consideration. From selecting the appropriate materials to establishing an effective workspace, understanding these aspects can significantly enhance your artistic journey.

Choosing the Right Materials, How to paint landscapes with acrylics

Choosing the right materials is crucial for successful landscape painting with acrylics. Selecting high-quality paints, brushes, and canvases will not only improve the aesthetics of your artwork but also enhance your painting experience.

  • Acrylic Paints:Opt for artist-grade acrylics that offer superior pigmentation, lightfastness, and durability.
  • Brushes:Choose a variety of brushes, including natural (e.g., hog bristle) and synthetic (e.g., nylon) options, to achieve different brushstrokes and textures.
  • Canvases:Select canvases with a texture and size that complement your artistic style. Consider primed canvases for optimal paint adhesion.

Color Theory and Mixing

Color theory is a fundamental aspect of landscape painting, guiding artists in creating harmonious and realistic compositions. The color wheel, a circular representation of the relationships between colors, serves as a valuable tool for understanding and utilizing color effectively.

Color Wheel and its Application

The color wheel consists of three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), three secondary colors (green, orange, and purple), and six tertiary colors (yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange, and yellow-orange). These colors are arranged in a circular spectrum, with complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the wheel) creating the highest contrast.

The subtle nuances of landscapes come to life with acrylics, inviting you to capture the essence of nature. For further artistic exploration, delve into Oil painting tips and tricks to enhance your understanding of light, shadow, and texture. Returning to acrylic landscapes, embrace the versatility of this medium to portray the serene beauty of the natural world.

By understanding the relationships between colors on the wheel, artists can create visually appealing and balanced landscapes.

Mixing Acrylic Paints

Mixing acrylic paints allows artists to achieve a wide range of hues and values. To create a desired hue, start with the primary color and gradually add a complementary color. For example, to create a shade of green, mix yellow with blue.

The more of the complementary color added, the darker and more muted the resulting hue will be. To adjust the value (lightness or darkness) of a color, add white or black paint. Adding white will lighten the color, while adding black will darken it.

Glazing and Layering Colors

Glazing and layering colors are techniques used to create depth and richness in landscape paintings. Glazing involves applying thin, transparent layers of paint over one another. Each layer allows the underlying colors to show through, creating a sense of depth and luminosity.

Layering, on the other hand, involves applying opaque layers of paint, building up color and texture. By combining glazing and layering techniques, artists can create complex and visually striking landscapes.

Composition and Perspective

Kevin hill paintings oil acrylic painting landscape paint lessons paintwithkevin scenery ross videos learn canvas acrylics tutorials autumn bob choose
Kevin hill paintings oil acrylic painting landscape paint lessons paintwithkevin scenery ross videos learn canvas acrylics tutorials autumn bob choose

In landscape painting, composition and perspective are crucial elements that contribute to the visual appeal and depth of the artwork. Understanding these principles enables artists to create landscapes that are not only visually stunning but also evoke a sense of realism and immersion.


Composition refers to the arrangement of elements within a painting to create a balanced and visually pleasing image. There are several fundamental principles of composition that artists consider:

  • Rule of Thirds:Dividing the canvas into thirds horizontally and vertically creates nine equal sections. Placing important elements along these lines or at their intersections enhances visual interest.
  • Leading Lines:Using lines within the painting to guide the viewer’s eye through the composition. These lines can be natural features, such as rivers or paths, or implied lines created through the placement of objects.
  • Focal Point:Establishing a central point of interest that draws the viewer’s attention. This can be achieved through contrast, color, size, or placement.
  • Balance:Distributing elements within the composition to create a sense of equilibrium. This can be achieved through symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangements.


Perspective refers to the illusion of depth and distance in a painting. Different perspective techniques can be used to create varying effects:

  • Linear Perspective:Creating the illusion of depth using parallel lines that converge at a single point on the horizon.
  • Aerial Perspective:Simulating the effect of atmospheric haze on distant objects, making them appear lighter, cooler, and less detailed.
  • Atmospheric Perspective:Using variations in color and contrast to create the illusion of depth, with warmer and more saturated colors in the foreground and cooler and less saturated colors in the distance.

Effective use of composition and perspective allows artists to create landscapes that are visually engaging, realistic, and evoke a sense of depth and immersion.

Techniques and Brushwork: How To Paint Landscapes With Acrylics

Brushwork plays a crucial role in landscape painting, as it allows artists to convey a wide range of textures, movements, and depths. Different brush techniques, brush sizes, and shapes can be employed to achieve specific effects.

Some common brush techniques include:

  • Dry brushing:This technique involves using a relatively dry brush with a small amount of paint to create a textured effect. It is often used to add details to rocks, trees, or other rough surfaces.
  • Stippling:This technique involves using a brush to create small, dot-like marks. It can be used to create textures, such as grass or fur, or to add highlights and shadows.
  • Impasto:This technique involves applying thick layers of paint to create a raised, textured effect. It is often used to create dramatic effects, such as crashing waves or towering mountains.

The size and shape of the brush also play a role in the effects that can be achieved. Smaller brushes are good for details, while larger brushes can be used to create broad strokes and washes. Round brushes can be used to create smooth, curved lines, while flat brushes can be used to create sharp, straight lines.

By experimenting with different brush techniques, sizes, and shapes, artists can create a wide range of effects in their landscape paintings.

Creating Depth and Atmosphere

Creating a sense of depth and atmosphere in landscape paintings is essential for capturing the spatial qualities of the natural world. Several techniques can achieve this illusion of depth, including aerial perspective, value contrast, and layering.

Aerial Perspective

Aerial perspective refers to the effect of the atmosphere on distant objects. As objects recede into the distance, they appear cooler in color, less distinct in detail, and lighter in value. This effect is caused by the scattering of light as it travels through the atmosphere.

Value Contrast

Value contrast refers to the difference in lightness or darkness between objects. By using lighter values for distant objects and darker values for closer objects, artists can create a sense of depth.


Layering involves painting objects in successive layers, with each layer representing a different plane of depth. By placing objects in front of and behind one another, artists can create a sense of spatial recession.

Painting Skies and Clouds

How to paint landscapes with acrylics
How to paint landscapes with acrylics

Skies and clouds are essential elements in landscape paintings, adding depth, atmosphere, and a sense of drama. Understanding the different types of skies and clouds and how to paint them realistically is crucial for capturing the beauty and emotion of the natural world.

Clouds are formed by the condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere. Their appearance and texture vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and air pressure. Some common types of clouds include cirrus, cumulus, stratus, and nimbus clouds.

Creating Cloud Formations

To paint clouds realistically, it’s important to observe their shape, texture, and lighting. Start by sketching the basic form of the cloud. Then, use a variety of brushstrokes and techniques to create the desired texture and volume. For example, a soft, fluffy cloud can be created using light, circular brushstrokes, while a more dramatic, billowing cloud may require bolder, more angular strokes.

Textures and Lighting Effects

The texture of a cloud can be enhanced by using different types of brushes and brushstrokes. For example, a stiff brush can create a rough, textured surface, while a soft brush can create a smoother, more ethereal effect. Lighting effects can also be used to add depth and drama to clouds.

By varying the intensity and direction of the light, you can create clouds that appear to be illuminated from within or cast dramatic shadows.

Capturing Movement and Drama

To capture the movement and drama of the sky, it’s important to observe the way clouds interact with the wind and light. Clouds often move in a specific direction, so it’s important to pay attention to the flow of the air and the way the clouds are shaped by it.

Lighting effects can also be used to create a sense of movement and drama. By using contrasting light and shadow, you can create clouds that appear to be billowing, swirling, or even exploding.

Painting Water and Reflections

Lisondra shallow
Lisondra shallow

Capturing the beauty and fluidity of water in landscapes is a crucial aspect of painting. Water surfaces exhibit a wide range of appearances, from the tranquil stillness of calm lakes to the dynamic movement of flowing rivers and crashing waves.

Understanding the techniques for painting water and reflections allows artists to convey the unique character of different water bodies and create realistic and atmospheric landscapes.

Techniques for Painting Water

  • Observe and Sketch:Begin by carefully observing the water surface and sketching its basic shapes and movements.
  • Use Transparent and Opaque Paints:Combine transparent and opaque acrylics to create the illusion of depth and realism. Transparent paints allow light to pass through, while opaque paints block it.
  • Glazing:Apply thin layers of paint over dried areas to build up color and create subtle variations in tone.
  • Drybrush:Use a dry brush to create texture and movement on the water’s surface.
  • Wet-on-Wet:Apply paint directly to a wet canvas to create smooth transitions and soft edges.

Conveying Different Water Surfaces

  • Calm Lakes:Use smooth, horizontal brushstrokes and subtle color variations to create the tranquil surface of a calm lake.
  • Flowing Rivers:Capture the movement of flowing water with diagonal or curved brushstrokes and a variety of shades of blue and green.
  • Crashing Waves:Use bold, textured brushstrokes and contrasting colors to depict the energy and force of crashing waves.

Creating Realistic Reflections

  • Observe and Understand:Study how light interacts with water and how objects are reflected on its surface.
  • Simplify and Generalize:Don’t try to paint every detail of the reflection; instead, focus on capturing the overall shape and tone.
  • Use the Color Wheel:Reflections often have complementary or analogous colors to the objects they reflect.
  • Experiment with Opacity:Adjust the opacity of the paint to create the illusion of depth and distance.

Painting Trees and Foliage

Painting trees and foliage is a rewarding experience that allows you to capture the beauty and diversity of nature. Understanding the different types of trees and foliage, as well as the techniques for painting them realistically, will enhance your ability to create stunning landscapes.

Tree Types and Foliage

Trees come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and foliage types. Some common tree types include deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the fall, and evergreen trees, which retain their leaves throughout the year. Foliage can vary in texture, color, and shape, depending on the tree species.

Understanding these variations will help you create realistic and believable trees in your paintings.

Creating Tree Trunks and Branches

Tree trunks can be painted using a variety of techniques. For a smooth, realistic effect, use a combination of light and dark shades of brown, blending them together to create depth and texture. For a more textured look, use a palette knife or a coarse brush to create rough, bark-like surfaces.

Branches should be painted in a way that suggests their growth and movement. Use a light touch and vary the thickness of the branches to create a sense of depth and perspective.

Painting Leaves and Foliage

Leaves can be painted in a variety of ways, depending on the desired effect. For individual leaves, use a small brush to paint the shape and veins of the leaf. For larger areas of foliage, use a larger brush and a variety of greens and yellows to create a sense of depth and texture.

Experiment with different brushstrokes and techniques to create different types of foliage, such as broad leaves, needles, or ferns.

Capturing Movement and Character

To capture the movement and character of trees, observe how they interact with the wind and light. Pay attention to the way the branches sway and the leaves flutter. Use your brushstrokes to convey this movement and create a sense of dynamism in your painting.

By capturing the unique character of each tree, you can create a landscape that is both realistic and expressive.

Painting Rocks and Mountains

How to paint landscapes with acrylics
How to paint landscapes with acrylics

Rocks and mountains add drama and depth to landscapes. Painting them realistically requires an understanding of their forms, textures, and lighting effects.

Conveying Rock Formations

Different rock formations have distinct shapes and textures. Sandstone, for example, is characterized by its layered appearance, while granite is known for its rounded boulders. Study reference photos to capture these variations.

  • Use angular strokes for sharp edges and flat planes.
  • Create rounded shapes with soft, circular strokes.
  • Layer colors to simulate depth and texture.

Capturing Textures

Rocks exhibit a wide range of textures, from smooth and polished to rough and jagged. To depict these textures:

  • Use a variety of brush sizes and shapes.
  • Experiment with dry-brushing techniques to create a grainy effect.
  • Add highlights and shadows to accentuate the contours.

Lighting Effects

Lighting plays a crucial role in bringing rocks to life. Consider the direction of the light source and how it affects the shadows and highlights:

  • Use darker colors in shaded areas and lighter colors in well-lit areas.
  • Create sharp shadows for dramatic lighting or soft shadows for a more subtle effect.
  • li>Pay attention to how light reflects off different surfaces.

Painting Mountains

Mountains require a different approach than rocks. Their sheer size and sloping surfaces demand a more structured approach:

  • Establish a horizon line and the base of the mountain.
  • Use perspective to create the illusion of distance.
  • Layer colors and textures to create depth and volume.

Creating Cliffs and Valleys

Cliffs and valleys add drama and complexity to mountain scenes. To paint them effectively:

  • Use bold strokes for sheer cliffs.
  • Create gentle slopes for valleys.
  • Add vegetation or other details to enhance realism.

Finishing Touches and Varnishing

Painting landscape beautiful mountain acrylics paintings scenery acrylic nature watercolor house river abstract easy tutorials techniques beach ross bob
Painting landscape beautiful mountain acrylics paintings scenery acrylic nature watercolor house river abstract easy tutorials techniques beach ross bob

Once your landscape painting is complete, the finishing touches will add the final touches of polish and protection. These touches include glazing, varnishing, and framing.

Glazing involves applying thin, transparent layers of paint over the existing surface to enhance color and depth. Varnishing, on the other hand, is the application of a protective coating to protect the painting from dirt, moisture, and UV damage. Framing completes the presentation of the painting and provides a professional finish.

Types of Varnishes

There are various types of varnishes available, each with its own characteristics and uses:

  • Gloss Varnish:Provides a shiny, reflective finish.
  • Satin Varnish:Offers a semi-gloss finish with a subtle sheen.
  • Matte Varnish:Creates a flat, non-reflective finish.
  • UV-Protective Varnish:Protects the painting from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Applying Varnish

To apply varnish, follow these steps:

  1. Allow the painting to dry completely before varnishing.
  2. Use a clean, soft brush or sponge to apply the varnish in thin, even strokes.
  3. Apply multiple layers of varnish, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next.
  4. Once the final layer is dry, allow the painting to cure for several days before handling or framing.

Common Queries

What are the essential materials for acrylic landscape painting?

You’ll need acrylic paints, brushes of various sizes and shapes, a canvas or painting surface, a palette, and a cup of water for cleaning brushes.

How do I choose the right colors for my landscape painting?

Consider the colors found in nature and use a color wheel to select harmonious shades. Experiment with mixing colors to achieve the desired hues and values.

What techniques can I use to create depth in my landscape painting?

Use aerial perspective, value contrast, and layering to create a sense of depth. Place objects closer to the viewer in sharper focus and use cooler colors and less detail for objects in the distance.