Three things every landscape should have.

I never set out to do landscapes I always left that to my mother, who is a top selling Artisit in her own right and queen of a colourful landscape. LINK to Marja Browns website  But not one to say ‘never’ I started watching someone on YouTube, who using his iPad did some beautiful landscapes, plus he was English and I could total relate to the innate feeling of ‘what am I doing this for, oh well I am here now’ vibe in his narration – James Juliar.  He inspired me to try, following along with his tutorials was fine, but I soon got bored and started to venture out on my own. Using the comfort blanket of my iPad and trusted procreate app, I was cool with the odd landscape or two in-between portraits and animal paintings. 


But of course, I couldn’t stop there, and started to obsess with creating the perfect balance, the right light, and perspective.  Learning is second nature and I love exploring the how behind anything. What is even better is realising that you sort of knew it all along, but now it has a fancy title, and I can self righteous in the knowledge that I know it’s meant to be there. 

If you’re buying art or an artist, indulge me as I share what I learned. Of course you know this, but now you know why the how happened. Isn’t that cool. Now you can check out the next work of art and go, ahhhhh I see what they did there, that is a perfect example of the golden ration. Imagine saying that outlaud in an art gallery, if I was with you, I would so high five you right now. 

So what are the three  fundamentals that art has that makes them so pleasing to the eye? Well, like everything else, in art we need to follow the rules, the thing is, as natural born creatives we don’t realise this. If you think about choosing the right colours, you instinctively know what goes together, but sometimes we over complicate things by second guessing ourselves and not trusting our instincts. 

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio can be used in the composition of fantastic landscapes, you know the ones where you wonder what it is that draws the eye in. Well it is something called the “Golden Ratio”. This is a mathematical relationship of proportion that can found in our natural world. This unique ratio has been studied by mathematicians for centuries and used by artists and architects such as Salvador Dali, Le Corbusier, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Think of this as a useful tool instead of a strict rule, in fact, you might even use it already without knowing it! Basically, the Golden Ratio can be used to choose the placement and size of what you are portraying in your art. Yep, it is all about maths when it come to the Golden Ratio but don’t panic, I won’t bombard you with equations, the chances are you do this automatically.

Found in nature everywhere you look, the Golden Ratio is a part of the fabric of life, however when we use it in art it creates an organic and natural-looking composition which is naturally pleasing to the eye. BOOM!  Just what you need when you want to attract the viewer to your work of art. 

Using the Golden Ratio within your design will give you a guideline for determining dimensions of the layout and it makes planning your design so much easier, breaking your design placements down into 2 columns and 2 rows, a 1/3rd of the overall nail area, and work within each one to create the horizon and focus points, i.e. the lighthouse and the ship. I have created one of the lessons in the July Monthly Masterclass around this to show you how you can place three items, using the Rule of Three and the Golden Ratio.


Finding the vanishing point on any landscape is important, it is important that you understand where you want the eye to travel as this will help with your placement. 

One of the most magical qualities you can achieve when creating a good landscape is giving the image the illusion of depth on a flat surface. The better we understand the two forms of perspective involved in the illusion, the easier it becomes to represent.

Perspective is the way of showing the viewer the position of an object and whether it is in the foreground or background, this is done either through liner perspective, or in the case of the purple landscape here an aerial perspective. 

The use of perspective in your art is to give the viewer a sense of distance between what they are seeing in the foreground, and what they can see behind that.

When we talk about perspective we need to understand that there is a vanishing point, the technical term which explains that the eye can no longer see past a certain point in the distance. If we place lines along the landscape towards the vanishing point then we can guide the viewer towards it by placement objects or light in that direction. 

Ideally we would place the vanishing point on the horizon, regardless of whether the object is in a landscape, still life or a structure, we still want the eye of the viewer to travel along the imaginary lines towards that vanishing point. Imagine you’re looking at a road or a river, it always looks its widest nearest to you and runs into a point on the horizon. This gives you the sense of it being flat and going into the distance, but in reality it is on a flat canvas. Perspective is all about creating an illusion to fool the eye into thinking something is 3 dimensional and not flat. 

You can also affect perspective with light, shade and tones of colour, combining this with the Golden Ratio and the right horizon line can lift the viewer eyes higher or lower changing the perspective of your landscape. 

Leonardo da Vinci understood that all painters are magicians and perspective is just one of the tricks that we can use to alter how the viewer sees your work. No matter where the viewer of a painting is standing in relationship to the painting, they will subconsciously have their eye level at the perceived height of the horizon line. 

Light & Shadow

Creating the mood of a painting using Light & Shadow will give you a narrative. We all like a story behind what we draw and we can tell this story by altering the colours of the landscape creating mood and enhancing the perspective. 

Using Light & Shadow to create dimensions is the coolest trick of all. Snow is one example where you can utilise the sunlight to change the colour of the white tipped mountains, the shadows and the different greys will enhance the perspective and dimensional qualities. 

Using light through colour is a simple process of adding whites, blacks and greys to create tones, tints and shadows of a colour. If you look at any landscape there is generally just a few different colours but the addition of blacks, greys and whites will change the hues to give you the mood you’re looking for. 

A tint is the addition of white to a colour to create a lighter version, for example, pink is a tint created by adding white to red.

A shade is where an artist adds black to a colour to darken it, for example, adding black to red, will give you a maroon or even reddish brick colour. 

A tone is where an artist adds grey to a colour, it will will tone down the intensity of any colour. 

By using one colour, and creating the depth through shadow ad highlight you will deliver a dimensional work of art. 

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