Tip for Painting Landscapes with Buildings: Create a Visual Melody

Painting subjects with buildings is one the most popular themes for artists. Humans readily identify themselves with man-made structures because these buildings are part of their environment, like nests are to birds. Some artists make a living painting scenes solely with buildings. For me, these scenes have always been best-selling paintings.

As with all subjects we paint, in landscape paintings we will be faced with hurdles that must be overcome. We will need to alter the actual real presentation of scenes and manipulate their forms to make them more artistically appealing. I cannot address all the pitfalls these subjects can present in this singular blog post, but I will address this important one; Buildings have straight lines. This results in the viewer’s eye moving too fast.you can build up thick impasto that will help convey a three-dimensional look. Other media such as watercolor and pastels lack this quality.

When an artist is all pumped up and his adrenaline is in high mode, it is frustrating to have to abandon the painting and resume it days after. There are new options of white paint over the classical titanium white that solve this problem, making oil painting so much more cooperative. It’s called fast-drying white, or underpainting white.

To work on a dry painting, I recommend you first add a thin layer of Liquin, after buff it off like waxing a car. The new paint will melt in, yet won’t merge with the previous layer. This way you can soften edges to your heart’s content!

Also you don’t have macro three-dimensional reality in a painting. You will have a two-dimensional, fake representation of it. Therefore, all bets are off on copying things because the real image is altered. The other problem with copying is that a painting gets abruptly cropped, something that never happens in the real world.Depicting buildings with straight lines will result in a rigid outcome. The viewer unconsciously follows these lines back and forth like a subway train. They lack visual melody. It’s like listening to a flat song with no high or low pitches.

In this close up (above) you can see the irregular line patterns. Allowing some stones to protrude irregularly creates this effect. The tiles look weathered and broken, which gives this an uneven line that’s artistically more pleasing. The roofs are slightly bent, as if the beams were sagging, to avoid a stern straight line as well. Incorporating flowers and plants is another recourse we can count on to interrupt the swift visual pace on walls. Any line longer than about two inches on a midsize painting should be interrupted.