We have loved sketching meadows, forests, and mountains ever since the dawn of man. Not only are they stunning, but they’re also perfect for enhancing our skill set.
This post is part of the Sketching Project. The curriculum of long-term practice designed to help you improve your skills in sketching. A straightforward schedule of weekly drawing prompts and subject-related articles follow. Covering all the fundamentals from composition to perspective, from landscapes to architecture.
The Landscape’s Growth
Landscape art took a while to take its rightful place among the elite of subjects. Landscapes took a backseat to other subjects, such as portraits or religious scenes at certain points in history, such as during the Renaissance.
But artists everywhere have learned over time that nature is one of the most beautiful, most dignified, and indeed, most difficult subjects there are. Every bit as important to art as Bacchus meeting Ariadne or the birth of Venus are meadows, forests, and mountains.
Although the notion of nature as a worthy subject grew slowly over time, the Impressionists sealed the deal with their love of capturing the incredible beauty of the outdoors and lifted the subject to the heights that it has remained ever since.
The joy of abandoning Power
Drawing landscapes has so many advantages. First of all, clearly, there is the number one point for the Impressionists to transfer their easels outdoors: natural light. Unlike a managed studio environment, in which you can select the light’s angle, brightness, and colour, nature is not the one calling the shots, out and around you. How the sun unexpectedly emerges from behind a cloud and reaches a lush canopy of leaves to make the forest floor seem to dance, or how it can make a smooth layer of snow sparkle like a million diamonds, is just something beautiful.
The time of day and the atmosphere, from bright and happy to gloomy and creepy, have a major effect on how the same scene looks. With various methods, it’s a lot of fun to play around and let the outside conditions be your guide.
The large number of subjects to draw is another justification for everyone to at least periodically take their sketchbook and venture into the great unknown. Nature is such that, wherever you go, there will be something else that is extremely photogenic to find. For you to choose from, even a single topic will have hundreds of great angles. Did you find a beautiful meadow that could make for some short sketches? At eye level, it’s probably going to look great, from above, down on the field, close-up, from the right, from the left, you name it.
Everywhere Textures and Patterns
And do you know what these great angles all have in common? A bunch of super exciting textures. There are many different species and non-living things in the outdoors, many with peculiar, incredible patterns.
Smooth, shiny leaves, rough, gritty rocks, and delicate, velvety flowers are everywhere you look. Tree bark has as interesting a texture as the underside of a mushroom or a clear stretch of cracked, dry dirt if you take a good look at it. Sketching these often-irregular shapes and patterns is an excellent activity. At first, it won’t be easy, but if you keep trying, in no time you’ll get good at it and it’ll make your drawings so much richer and more interesting.
Learning to Suggest
You can also note that many views can be very busy due to nature’s variety. Different trees, flowers, bushes, rocks are everywhere you look. In the water, there are clouds, ripples, bees buzzing about.
Every single detail is difficult to draw, nor should that ever be your target (for sketching at least Instead, simplifying is one of the most significant lessons that you can learn while drawing landscapes. Without actually drawing it, having to hint at the detail is a talent in its own right and requires a lot of practice.
My article How to simplify your drawings or take a look at my post 5 great exercises to develop your Landscape Drawing Skills for some tips and exercises to help you start popping up. Learning to allow it to go
Man-made artefacts appear to be extremely uniform and tidy, particularly in modern times. We have become used to it every day, being surrounded by such an order, and sometimes, perhaps subconsciously, try to replicate it in our drawings.
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But a less perfectionistic approach is much more attractive in most situations. Asymmetry creates interest, inconsistencies carry a drawing to life. And nature can both teach us.
In nature, there are few straight lines. No two objects look exactly the same, so you’re virtually forced to make special, interesting, character-filled sketches.
For an exercise that is perfect to get some practice with this, pop by my article 5 great exercises to develop your Easy Landscape Drawing Skills.
Freedom of Composition
Nature is not standardized, as I’ve described above. There is a lot going in at any one view, with differently shaped and arranged trees, rocks, bodies of water, what do you have. Because of that, with your composition, you have far more freedom. In most situations, you can edit it pretty much the way you want. You can switch components around, change their form, make them more or less common, and there will be none the wiser for your viewers.
Look at my article 19 Expert Tips for making outstanding Landscape Sketches for a lot of tips for nice landscape composition. Mind, Body, and Soul Eventually, the health benefits of spending time in and around nature are present. It is proven that being outside relieves tension, strengthens your immune system, and increases your well-being as a whole. For your lungs, fresh air is good, chirping birds and rustling leaves can do wonders for anxiety. There are also studies that correlate increased creativity with spending time outdoors, so that’s just right for you and your drawing skills.
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