Put simply, landscape art is an artistic genre that depicts natural scenes, with common features including fields, trees, rivers, forests and mountains. But in practice, it’s so much more than that. Ranging from fiery scorched-orange terrain to abstract depictions of moors or plains, texture-filled canvases of windy coastlines to sunlit fields with birds soaring across the horizon, the natural landscape is an extremely exciting, highly romanticised, and endlessly popular artistic subject.
Despite this range and scope, landscape art has historically taken a back-seat. Major art movements previously prioritised the representation of figures and events rather than natural scenes, so that landscapes were often the backdrop, rather than an artwork’s focal point. With a number of 18th century French painters such as Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussain sharing their classical inspired natural scenes, by the 19th century pastoral settings were moving centre stage, and finally getting the recognition they deserve. The genre soon became part of the established Western canon, with artists such as John Constable and J.W. Turner proving instrumental in popularising the genre.
ABSTRACT TO LITERAL LANDSCAPE ARTWORKS
The charm, atmosphere and intrigue that Constable and Turner imbued into their work, through brilliant colouration, detail and sense of space and texture, has been inspiring artists ever since. Using thick brush strokes or loose colour washes to create captivating patches of abstract sections, artists utilise the swirling clouds, varied textures and hazy horizon-lines familiar in their work, to create pieces that border on the abstract whilst still retaining a recognisable form.
Linda Bembridge’s Sand Pattern 3 focuses on intimate depictions of the simple beauty of a beach, with areas of the canvas feeling abstract and non-representational. Likewise, Felicity Keefe’s White River 2 plays with colour and texture to create a work which combines both abstract and familiar elements.
Others, such as Glynne James, reject non-representation in favour of detail. Glynne’s work has a stylized quality that is reminiscent of Constable’s carefully composed canvases, with his precise colours and closely-rendered trees, horizon line and meadows of wildflowers – it is instantly recognisable. His intensely vivid depiction of light is a reminder of how important it is for landscape artists to create a sense of atmosphere within their work.
This sense of crystal-clear clarity is also seen in Pam Carters’ vividly coloured Mist in the Glen, where a range of more graphic shapes and lines contras beautifully with the softer curved shapes in the landscape’s foreground.
AN ARRAY OF MEDIUMS AND MATERIALS
Landscape artworks boast an array of mediums and materials, from black and white photography and detailed graphic prints to textured painterly pieces. Many different techniques have been used to capture the changing form of the landscape by artists, from thickly-applied paint using a palette-knife, to splattering paint straight onto the canvas or using small paintbrushes to painstakingly apply the paint. Ben Catt’s work utilises the thick application of paint and the splattered canvas to create his emotive paintings, creating landscapes that evoke swirling weather conditions and ever-changing seasons. The layered paint used by Ben creates a real sense of texture, helping build a sense of brooding atmosphere in his work. Other artists, such as Laura Boswell’s Dry Stone Wall, main image, delight the viewer with her carefully printed rocks and pebbles, contrasting with the hazier depictions of alpine scenery in the background. Here, printmaking gives a more graphic, detailed effect. Carving is a reductive or subtractive technique in which the artist removes portions of the chosen material, through cutting or abrading, to create a piece. The main materials used in carved sculpture are stones such as marble, bone or wood. Wood is very pliable and is therefore easy to carve, though subject to humidity and extreme temperatures, and must be dried and cured prior to carving to prevent splitting or warping. Marble, the stone used most since antiquity, is very hard and difficult to carve; alabaster, which has a similar aesthetic property to marble, is soft and easy to carve; limestone, granite and sandstone are also popular media.
EMOTIVE COLOURS IN LANDSCAPE ART
Today, the landscape genre boasts enormous popularity, often proving a popular choice for first-time buyers looking for that first large piece to fill. But landscape artwork certainly doesn’t have to be safe. Tim Southall’s Landscape in Fuschia & Black, with its luminous splashes of purple, yellow and pink showing just how versatile and vivid the genre can be. Deeply expressive, his style is distinctly abstract and would be a brilliantly bright addition to any home. Likewise, the glowing greens of Jon Rowland’s Landscape with Cypress 2 sees composition, perspective and structure give way to a more abstract and emotive piece, using strong line and scratchy brushstrokes to suggest the landscape’s rolling hills, patches of shade and perhaps the outline of a church steeple.
Landscapes, however, do not always lead to bright and light-filled canvases; they are often dark, rugged, mysterious and brooding. British war artist Paul Nash depicted the ravaged British coastline using a muted palette of greys and blues; similarly, representations of empty, bleak landscape were also common to devotees of pre-war Surrealism. Works with these tones can create a captivating and intense quality, seen in the beautiful work of Lindsey Hambleton’s Flooded Wood, Winter Light. Here, trees take centre stage, their smooth curves and strong verticals encompassing a boldness that is hard to forget. Other works such as Hermione Carline’s captivating Dark Rose Reflection, inspired by the limestone mountains and rivers of South West China, produce a similar feeling. Closer inspection and knowledge about the work tells us that we are seeing craggy mountains reflected in a river; but the work could just as easily be an abstract, carefully coloured series of abstract shapes. A work like Hermione's highlights the landscape genre’s enchanting ability to transport the viewer elsewhere, whilst simultaneously giving an additional airiness to a room.
We just love these startling varied landscapes, which utilise the natural world’s timeless aesthetic possibilities; from craggy mountains, to verdant forests, empty fields and sun-soaked fields vistas, they can’t help but evoke an emotional reaction. This breadth can be seen across our online shop, in works by our roster of Affordable Art Fair artists.
To continue your journey across planes, forests and mountains, why not browse landscape art on our online marketplace – just follow the link below.
Laura Boswell, Dry Stone Wall, 2018, Linocut, £350 Jack Frame
Featured art from first to last:
Linda Bembridge, Sand Pattern 3, 2013, photography, £120 Obsidian Art
Felicity Keefe, White River 2, 2017, oil, £1995 Art Agency
Glynne James, This Beautiful Land, 2018, oil, £3500 London Contemporary Art
Pam Carter, Mist in the Glen, 2016, oil, £5800 Scottish Art Portfolio
Ben Catt, Untitled Landscape, 2017, acrylic, £700 Eleven and a Half
Tim Southall, Landscape in Fuchsia and Black, 2018, silkscreen print, £275 Arc Fine Arts
Jon Rowland, Landscape with Cypress #2, 2017, acrylic, £480 Wychwood Art
Lindsey Hambleton, Flooded Wood, Winter Light, 2018, Oil, £2850 Hayloft Contemporary
Hermione Carline, Dark Rose Reflection, 2018, Giclee, £275 Mint Art Gallery