Hobbies Fine Arts & Crafts Reference Photos for Painting Landscapes Share PINTEREST Email Print Melany Rizo/Pexels Fine Arts & Crafts Painting Basics Lessons & Tutorials Techniques Supplies Drawing & Sketching Arts & Crafts By Marion Boddy-Evans Marion Boddy-Evans is an artist living on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. She has written for art magazines blogs, edited how-to art titles, and co-authored travel books. our editorial process Marion Boddy-Evans Updated January 13, 2020 There’s something about a spectacular landscape, whether it's a barren semi-desert scene or rolling green pastures, that makes artists' fingers itch to capture its essence on canvas. 01 of 37 Neist Point Lighthouse ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans Neist Point Lighthouse is the most westerly point on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. It sits above rocky cliffs, but on the land side, it's all lush green grass in spring and summer where sheep graze. Note the large foghorn! 02 of 37 Blue Boat Reflections ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans When painting this scene, I would apply artistic license to remove the cars from the jetty (they distract from the boats) and make the water a more interesting color (deep, dark blues, not bright blue, which will distract from the blue boat). The blue boat would be the focal point of the painting, as the splash of color immediately demands attention and pulls your eye into the scene. Consider your composition: do you want it as long and wide as the photo? Do you want more to the left of the blue boat? Do you want to show some sky above the horizon of the sea (which has a potential problem in three stacks bands: a band of the jetty, a band of the sea, and a band of the sky)? Do you want one boat or two? 03 of 37 River at Night With Reflections ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 04 of 37 Eileen Donan Castle ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans This photo was taken on a crisp, clear winter's morning when the sun was reflecting brightly off the loch. The snow on the landscape and clouds helped create the silvery effect. When painting this scene, use the aerial perspective to get a sense of distance. Consider editing out the flagpole, which is a bit of visual clutter. I would probably also make the tree near the flagpole a bit taller so you can see a bit of trunk, not just the top, to keep it from looking like a shrub. And knock back the intensity of the sun's reflection on the water behind the castle on the right-hand edge, so it doesn't distract the viewer's attention from the castle so much. 05 of 37 Bridge to the Isle of Skye in Scotland ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans A bridge connects the Isle of Skye to the Scottish mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh. The best views are along the coast to the east of Kyle, where there is plenty of parking. This is a great spot for some open-air painting when the wind isn't too strong. 06 of 37 Scotland Countryside ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 07 of 37 Scotland Painting Challenge ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans This photo presents several challenges when using it for a painting: The muddy track tends to lead the viewer's eye off to the left and out of the composition. Making the gate and stone wall next to it a strong visual element will help pull the eye back in. The left-hand foreground is boring — consider cropping off most of it or adding some wildflowers (for instance, pink foxgloves). The sky is dull. Consider adding a few fluffy clouds or cropping it so the sky is only a small part of the overall composition. Leave out the telephone pole in the center of the field, as it spoils the rural idyll. Remember that whatever you do with the sky, it needs to reflect in the puddles in the foreground. 08 of 37 Thumbnail Sketches ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans These thumbnail sketches are ideas for how you might paint this reference photo. Always remember, a photo can (and should) be adapted to suit you. On this page in my sketchbook, I've quickly put down seven ideas for a composition using this reference photo. I used a waterproof pen, then added a little watercolor. None are carefully plotted compositions, nor detailed. Thumbnails don't aim to be detailed. Rather, they are fast lines drawn for the main shapes in the landscape and then color-blocked to show possibilities. 09 of 37 Hills of Scotland ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 10 of 37 Scotland Farmlands ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 11 of 37 Scotland Fields ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 12 of 37 Scotland Landscape ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 13 of 37 Scotland Countryside With Fields and Homes ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 14 of 37 Cows in Scotland ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans There's something about the contradiction in this scene that appeals to me. It appears to be an idyllic rural scene near Annan in southern Scotland, with cows munching contently on green pastures. But in the background, instead of hills, sits Chapelcross nuclear power station. I've always thought it lent itself to a painting dominated by reds. 15 of 37 Sheep in Scotland ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 16 of 37 Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans Caerlaverock Castle is near Annan, in southern Scotland. 17 of 37 Herefordshire, England ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 18 of 37 Overberg, South Africa ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans The Overberg region of South Africa is a wheat and canola growing area that, in spring, is a patchwork of greens and yellows. 19 of 37 Gum Tress in Overberg ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans Ubiquitous gum trees dot the landscape of the Overberg region. 20 of 37 River Scene With Tree ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans There are two things you ought to consider in terms of composition when painting from this photo: where you put the horizon and where you put the river. As it is at the moment, they're both a little close to the halfway point, tending to divide the composition in half. I think I would extend the scene to the right and top, making it more of a panoramic landscape, rather than cropping it to a square format. 21 of 37 Helderberg Nature Reserve ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans This is the view from the dam next to the coffee shop at the Helderberg Nature Reserve, about half an hour's drive from the center of Cape Town, South Africa. 22 of 37 Mountain Pass ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 23 of 37 Mountain Cottage ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 24 of 37 Mountain Cottage as a Watercolor Painting ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans This is the photo of a mountain cottage turned into a watercolor with the colors adapted to create a sunrise scene. 25 of 37 Cottage in Sutherland ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 26 of 37 Rock Formations Pixabay/Pexels 27 of 37 Sunset Rock Formations Pixabay/Pexels 28 of 37 Grand Canyon Features Free-Photos/Pixabay 29 of 37 Grand Canyon Landscape reynaldodallin/Pixabay 30 of 37 Orange River ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 31 of 37 Great Falls National Park merdanata/Pixabay 32 of 37 Spring Flowers in South Africa ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans This photo of spring flowers that appear in August and September in the West Coast/Namaqualand region of South Africa was taken near Niewoudtville. Yellow and white daisies as far as you can see! 33 of 37 More Flowers in South Africa ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans This photo of spring flowers, which appear in August and September along the West Coast of South Africa all the way up to Namaqualand, was taken near the Botterkloof Pass, on the R364 north of Clanwilliam, towards Calvinia. It's as if Mother Nature has tipped over her palette, splattering the landscape with color! 34 of 37 Hex River Valley South African Tourism/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 35 of 37 Karoo ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 36 of 37 Windmill in Karoo ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans 37 of 37 Table Mountain ThoughtCo/Marion Boddy-Evans No prizes for guessing why the mountain that stretches around the city of Cape Town in South Africa is called Table Mountain! Source "Clanwilliam, Western Cape." Clanwilliam Tourism, 2019.