Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice

With nearly 40,000 copies in print, Landscape Painting has been a top 20 seller at publisher Watson-Guptill and is the #1 selling landscape painting book in the U.S., with readers at giving it a 5-star rating. The book has been called “a new classic of landscape art” (Katherine Tyrell, Making a Mark) and has graced the bookshelves at museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The National Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, and in Europe at the Tate Gallery in London, the Scotland National Gallery, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. A Chinese language edition was published in 2017.

Absolutely the finest book I’ve ever read on landscape painting! That list includes Edgar Payne, Andrew Loomis, John Carlson and Birge Harrison. Yours is better than all of them. Don Demers

Albala strikes a position distilling the didactic forcefulness of Carlson and marries it to a humanist liberal arts tradition. – Dinah Snipes Steveni

Read an excerpt ››

Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice by Mitchell Albala

Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice is a comprehensive, genre-specific guide that focuses on the greatest challenges facing the landscape painter:

Simplification and Massing: Learn to reduce nature’s complexity by looking beneath the surface of a subject to discover the form’s basic masses and shapes.

Color and Light: Explore color theory as it specifically applies to landscape painting and learn the various strategies painters use to capture the illusion of natural light.

Selection and Composition: Learn how to compose with a limited focus and how to find the essential cues necessary to build an illusion of depth within your paintings.

The book’s essential lessons are drawn from the author’s 30 years of landscape painting experience and methods proven successful in his workshops held over the past 20 years at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, Pacific Northwest Art School, ArtEAST, and Arte Umbria in Italy. The book is richly illustrated with 230 diagrams, photographs, step-by-step demonstrations, and over 40 contemporary and classic paintings. Clearly written, practical, and inspirational this book is a serious companion for anyone getting started in the genre, as well as instructors or more experienced painters who want to improve their skills and explore new perspectives.

How is “Landscape Painting” different?

The author covers many topics in depth that are only touched upon in other books or not covered at all:

  • Simplification and Massing, perhaps the most essential practice for landscape painting, is explored throughout, with examples, exercises, and demonstrations. Chapter 4 explore the concept fully with examples and demonstrations.
  • It is the first book to explore in detail, and in practical terms, the critical first step in composition — Site Selection. What visual cues are necessary to create an illusion of space within a two-dimensional painting? What types of subjects translate best into painting and what types of subjects should be avoided?
  • The chapter on Color and Light explores color theory as it specifically relates to landscape painting. Learn how value effects color identity and how it can be used to infuse your landscapes with an aura of natural light. Understand harmony, atmosphere, and the differences between naturalistic color and expressive color.
  • The book makes an authoritative and eloquent case for the contemporary underpainting (or “wipeout”) method — a highly effective and reliable technique for beginning a painting. With comprehensive step-by-step instructions.
  • A full chapter is devoted to Working with Photographs. What are the requirements for a good reference photo? What are the fatal “don’ts?” Learn how image editing software (such as Photoshop) can be used creatively to suggest ways of simplifying or understanding values.
  • A full chapter is devoted to the exciting area of Abstracting Nature. What is abstraction and how can the painter produce it?
  • Style, Inspiration and Lifelong Learning. The concluding chapter is devoted to the more personal aspects of one’s practice: The meaning of subject, honing one’s vision, style, dealing with frustration, and staying motivated and inspired.