There are lots of elements that make up a good landscape painting, more than we can possibly discuss here, so I am going to concentrate on just one – creating depth in a picture. There are many ways of doing this, but one of the most crucial things to get control of is the change of colour and tone as things recede into the distance. Checkout my Landscape Painting video for more information on how to create depth in a Landscape painting.
The big mistake often made is when looking into the distance and seeing the trees on the far hills, is to see them as dark and then to paint them dark in the painting. When seen in isolation they do look dark, but you should never look at those trees in isolation. Compare them tonally with trees in the middle ground or the foreground and you will immediately see the trees are in fact quite light in comparison. This is the crucial point, you must compare and ensure there is a tonal difference between foreground and background.
The same idea applies to colour, colour loses its strength and the difference between the light elements and the darks reduce as colour recedes into the background. It is not just a case of making a colour lighter as it recedes, we have also to reduce its strength, this can be done by adding a very small amount of it’s complementary – in the case of green this would be red – then adding a little white.
As a little exercise, try mixing a range of greens to paint the background hills, the middle ground and the foreground. as the greens come forward they become richer and possibly warmer. As they recede they become more muted and cooler.