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Glorious Landscape Paintings in Contemporary Art

June 12, 2016
Nadia Herzog is a pen name of Nadja Bozovic, a freelance journalist whose interest goes from the questioning influence of different art movements, through the connection of arts and urban space, to the art activism for social change. She enjoys interviewing artists and reading all about art history, and she is truly passionate about visual arts, especially about photography, design, graphics, multimedia, and street art in all of its forms.

Landscape paintings are depicting reality in its purest form. Inspired by the beauty of nature and their surroundings, painters usually paint exactly what they see. Landscape painting doesn’t require much of an imagination, because for the artist it only takes to go out of their home or their studio and there it is – inspiration is all around them, whether they live in the city and they want to capture an urban atmosphere in their sketch or they step outside their living space and get out there looking for some untouched nature to transfer it to canvas in all its glory. When you consider it that way, every piece of nature deserves to find itself in a painting made by some of the masterminds in the landscape paintings. They truly know how to create miracle images with what they have in front of them. By adding vivid colors or by simply playing with shapes and curves where you wouldn’t actually expect it, contemporary artists are making landscape paintings far more interesting than they originally used to be.

When it comes to the origins of a landscape painting, that pushes us way back in the fourth century and places us somewhere in China. Yes, in China. Although there was a long-lasting belief that Leonardo da Vinci drafted the first landscape painting ever made in 1473, that is not quite true. First impressions of nature were actually depicted in the Chinese art where landscape clearly stated the connection with an environment. In fact, it became so gloriously popular at the beginning of the 9th century that the whole following period was called The Great Age of Chinese Landscape.

If we look only through the lens of the Western world, we would acknowledge that scenery paintings originally came from the ancient Greeks and Romans, and that would be a well-known fact. But it wasn’t until the Renaissance era that artists started considering landscapes as a subject matter of their art. Only then did nature become a true inspiration for painters. And only then was the first real landscape painting made. It is the Albert Altdorfer’s Landscape with Footbridge, from somewhere in between the 1518 and 1520, which is considered to be the first true landscape in the Western history of art. But, let’s go back to the contemporary art now. During the 20th century, landscape art had been redefining itself by numerous movements. Several changes were made to the genre, and now, in the 21st century, the question is whether it will return to its traditional style, or will it become more abstract than ever before.

One way or another, landscape paintings are evergreen, they simply never get old. Their popularity may increase or decrease from time to time, but it remains high. Landscape paintings are widely popular among art collectors and art lovers alike. It has always been more probable that someone would choose a landscape painting to hang on their home wall than any other art genre. People enjoy looking at calming green fields, or inspiring blue waters, or colorful houses and vivid urban environments. It is something that is familiar to all of us, it is something that isn’t overwhelming, and we don’t need to be rocket scientists to understand the meaning of this art. It is as simple as that.

But, painting a landscape, sometimes, isn’t simple at all. It takes much talent and skill to paint it as you see it. Of course, there are artists who are more proficient than others. So, we have chosen ten most inspiring and beautiful landscape paintings in the contemporary art, and we are presenting them to you through the following list. Enjoy!

And before you get started with checking out the amazing landscape art, make sure to look out for this book, you’ll certainly like it if you are interested in landscape paintings.

Editors’ Tip: Landscape Painting Inside & Out

Landscape painting is a conversation with nature. If you approach it with passion and care, the results would be highly positive. In a way, landscaping is much like photography. It captures the moment in time exactly as it is. Well, actually as the artists see it. They have to feel it and then transfer that sentiment on canvas. By using different lines and shapes, value and edges, they are creating a whole new world within a world. This book will show you how to create personal, momentum landscapes, and how to experience nature in its full form and capture its vibrant glow. It will be a specific guide both for those who are yet starting to experiment with landscaping and for those who stand before new artistic challenges in their landscape painting.

Featured image: Guido Borelli – Landscape image via Lookingglass-photo.com

  • Sandra Mandelsohn Rubin - Detail of aquaduct Quail Lake 2012

Sandra Mendelsohn Rubin - Aqueduct at Quail Lake, 2012

Sandra Mendelsohn Rubin’s Aqueduct at Quail Lake is physically her biggest painting. It is also one of the best-known artworks by her. The landscape has always been an inspiration for Rubin throughout her 35-year-long career on a steady path. Recently, she got interested in an areal view of nature, so her newest works include nature seen from the air. And when it comes to her city paintings, they are always well-balanced and composed with a sense of urban rhythm. Originally, she was inspired by the night paintings, so the quality of light and atmosphere is essential to her work. Quail Lake, as an artificial lake in Los Angeles County, is also a great inspiration for Sandra Mendelsohn Rubin, and so far, it has been a subject of her landscape paintings quite a lot.

Featured image: Sandra Mendelsohn Rubin – Aqueduct at Quail Lake (detail), 2012

  • Griff Williams - No Outlet 2011

Griff Williams - No Outlet, 2011

No outlet by Griff Williams is both realistic and phantasmagoric at the same time. You can clearly see the flowers and the land, and the mountains in the back, yet it seems like they are being transformed into abstract forms before your very eyes. When you look at this painting for a long period of time, you get the feeling that it is somehow alive, that it is flowing and seemingly changing shapes. And then you notice a little black human figure that is hanging on something which looks like a tree arm, but then again, you are not quite sure what it is and why is that figure there. Williams is a true master when it comes to defining and re-defining what nature is, and what it might look like when he puts his imagination hat on.

Featured image: Griff Williams – No Outlet, 2011 – Image via Duanereedgallery.com

  • Sallie K Smith  -  Timeless Odessa 2013

Sallie K. Smith - Timeless Odessa, 2013

Sallie K. Smith is an American artist, based in Boulder, Colorado. Surrounded by beautiful nature, her paintings usually depict the American west, and the Timeless Odessa is no exception. Great landscape views of mountains, rivers, trees, and much more, with such contrast and vivid colors, are what make her paintings stand out. Her art piece Timeless Odessa’s value is estimated in the range of $9,800.

Featured image: Sallie K Smith – Timeless Odessa, 2013 – Image via Sallieksmith.com

  • Darlene Campbell   -  Nature of Time 2010 - Image via Koplindelrio com

Darlene Campbell - Nature of Time, 2010

The artwork called Nature of Time by the artist Darlene Campbell is a piece of pure realism. There would be no much difference between this painting and the photograph of the same spot on Earth if you wanted to make a comparison. When you look at this art piece for the first time, you might not see its true value at a first glance, but its calming effect would really fascinate you, that’s for sure. Campbell wanted to bring this particular place to the viewer exactly as it is. The same goes for her other artworks. This New York-born and a California-based artist is creating landscape paintings exactly as she sees her surroundings so that the viewers get the same feeling when they look at her art as she had while creating it.

Featured image: Darlene Campbell – Nature of Time, 2010 – Image via Koplindelrio.com

  • Jack Stuppin  - Oak and Hills 2008 - Image via Wismag com

Jack Stuppin - Oak and Hills, 2008

Jack Stuppin is engaging the viewers of his art with colors and forms. Strong, super-enriched colors and nature look-alike forms are the most important parts of his paintings. Sometimes they match with viewers’ expectations, sometimes they don’t. For Stuppin himself, the most important issue is the revival of nature conservation, which is made possible through the technology progress. Oak and Hills is one of his most famous paintings, which depicts the conservation easement over the Oak Hill Farm, the 700 acres land of farms and wilderness donated in 1985 by the Sonoma Land Trust. The Oak Hill Farm is now owned and operated by Anne Teller, and it goes over the 300 acres of so-called Secret pasture, a wildlife preserve which became the first land owned and managed by the Sonoma Land Trust in the 1970s. The place Jack Stuppin wants his audience to be while looking at paintings is somewhere between the intuition and science, at the spot where nature unite technology development with the nature conservation.

Featured image: Jack Stuppin – Oak and Hills, 2008 – Image via Wismag.com

  • Peter Seitz Adams - Sunrise and Long Shadows view canvas

Peter Seitz Adams - Sunrise and Long Shadows

Sun is a leitmotif of Peter Seitz Adams’s landscape art. Emphasizing the life energy, it has the most influential effect on the viewer. Sunrise and Long Shadows is one of the most popular paintings from this contemporary impressionist. Adams is successfully transferring his emotions to paintings, which makes them so unique and enjoyable. Peter Seitz Adams is one of America’s most recognized landscape and figurative painters and an important figure in contemporary California art scene. He is also known as the longest serving President of the California Art Club and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena.

Featured image: Peter Seitz Adams – Sunrise and Long Shadows – Image via Americanlegacyfinearts.com

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Wayne Thiebaud – Living on Hope

Best known for his illustrations of cakes, lollipops, ice creams, cookies, lipsticks, shoes, hammers, and other everyday products, as well as feminine figures, Wayne Thiebaud is also famous for his unique landscapes. His art is truly one-of-its-kind. It is simple and colorful, yet it represents the complexity of modern life and popular culture. Even though he is widely recognized as a Pop Art painter, he doesn’t want to be labeled as such. In fact, he didn’t even plan on becoming a visual artist in the first place. Born in 1920 in Arizona, and moved to California with his family soon after, Thiebaud was fascinated with the comic book illustrations from his early age. As a young man, he started working in the Walt Disney Pictures Studio as a cartoonist. It was only after he had met Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, that he actually started thinking about directing his own career towards fine art. Today, he is widely known as a true giant of the American contemporary art scene, an artist who has a significant mark of his own. Landscapes have always been one of his big interests, which can be seen through the Wayne Thiebaud’s series named Living on Hope, which depicts highways and cityscapes as the central part of the artist’s landscaping scenery.

Featured image: Wayne Thiebaud – Living on Hope – Image via Globalvirtualgallery.com

  • Eugene von Guérard - View of Geelong 1856 - Image via Wikipedia org

Eugene von Guerard - View of Geelong, 1856

Johann Joseph Eugene von Guérard (1811-1901) was an Austrian-born artist, who was actively painting in Australia from 1852 until 1882. He studied landscape painting in Germany at the Dusseldorf Academy and then travelled widely around the world, which shaped his specific artistic language. When it comes to landscaping, Eugene von Guérard wanted to be true to himself and to his audience, so he painted the nature exactly as he saw it, with nothing less and nothing more than that. That is why his paintings became so popular. We know that the late 19th century cannot really count as a contemporary art period, but Eugene von Guérard’s paintings have gained much greater value after his lifetime. His artwork View of Geelong from 1856 was purchased in 2006 by the City of Greater Geelong for a sum of 3.8 million dollars. It is one of his earliest works in Australia, but during the 1860s, Eugene von Guérard became widely recognized as an important landscape artist in the colonies, who was touring Southeast Australia and New Zealand at the time, in a pursuit of picturesque landscapes to capture in his paintings.

Featured image: Eugene von Guérard – View of Geelong, 1856 – Image via Wikipedia.org

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Guido Borelli - Luce a Venezia, 2000

Guido Borelli is an Italian painter who was born in an artistic family. His parents encouraged him to carefully shape his talent and pursue his art career while he was still a child. So, he won his first art contest at the age of 13 and held his first exhibition at Ars Plauda Gallery in Turin when he was 17. After finishing high school, he went for an artistic training at the Accademia Albertina in Turin. His talent was so obvious that no one could argue with that. Borelli has always been a true fan of everything related to Italy, and he seems to be in love with sweet little towns across the country. So, his landscapes are so vividly depicting the life of Italian towns, with a childlike fascination about their charm and uniqueness. His paintings are colorful and joyful, just as Italian nature really is. Today, artworks of Guido Borelli can be found in many permanent exhibitions in art galleries across Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Featured image: Guido Borelli – Luce a Venezia, 2000 – Image via Toyandgamewarehouse.com

  • Scott Naismith - Struie Hill Dornoch - Image via Fineartamerica com oil page color

Scott Naismith - Struie Hill, Dornoch

Even though landscapes come out somehow blurry in the work of Scottish artist Scott Naismith, they are truly inspiring and cheerful. By using splashes of strong colors, Naismith has successfully depicted the Scotland surroundings in every art piece that he has made so far. The sky takes a centric role in his landscape paintings. The dramatic look of his sky is not something that he makes up and imagines, because the fast-changing weather in Scotland provides him an excellent background for his art. So, the drama is what he sees and that is what he paints. The ‘atmospheric abstraction‘ is a more precise name of his art style, as the artist explains himself. Scott Naismith has his own YouTube channel where he showcases his artistic approach to the making of paintings from outdoors to his studio, with his videos being viewed more than two million times. Besides that, Naismith is also popular for his design studio, where he transforms his landscape paintings into the various artistic prints.

Featured image: Scott Naismith – Struie Hill, Dornoch – Image via Fineartamerica.com