Many times during my art journey I’ve wondered where I might end up. What sort of artist did I aspire to become? Although I’ve tried this, that, and a half-dozen other things in art — from watercolors to pastels, from figure drawing to flowers — I seem to find myself most at home with landscapes painted in oil.
I’ve learned a lot since I attempted my first oil painting back in November, 2016, and as my knowledge grows, I realize each day how much more I have to learn. It’s a fascinating study, and I’m enjoying it immensely.
Of course, along with reading and studying, I also enjoy the time I spend at my easel. This is what’s currently sitting there. It will need some tweaking before it’s finished, but I’m pleased with the progress I’m making.
All the same, when I talk with other artists, I’m inclined to think of myself as just a landscape painter. When my husband and I visit local art shows or studios, I rarely see many landscapes on display. Instead there are bright, bold splotches of colors in abstract patterns and designs. There are usually still life paintings. Sometimes we see paintings of dogs and cats; sometimes there are portraits, too.
Landscape painting, I tell myself, doesn’t really seem to be considered art. At least not the fine art that attracts attention.
Yet people seem to like my landscapes. My husband likes them, of course, but I have to admit I discount his opinion, as well as the opinions of other family members. Of course they like my paintings, or at least they say they do.
Over and over, my husband tells me that people always enjoy seeing landscape paintings. They are scenes people can relate to, he explains. In this, I can agree. We’ve all seen beautiful trees, rivers, skies, lakes, and rocks, and other wonders of nature. A good landscape can put us in a quiet, reflective mood. A true work of landscape art can carry us back in time, evoke moods and memories, make us smile, and make us feel good.
I’m not saying my landscapes can do all of that — yet — but I hope to get to that place as I continue painting.
Still, it makes me wonder why more people don’t paint landscapes. I don’t want to feel that the term landscape artist is bordering on being an oxymoron. I certainly don’t want to believe that there might be a bit of artistic stigma toward landscape painting. I’ve worked very, very hard to become an artist only to find that I’m a “lesser” sort of artist — just a mere landscape painter, indeed.
Curious, I delved a bit more into art history. The idea of painting the landscape as a subject in its own right and not as backdrop for another idea or concept is a fairly new idea in the art world, I learned. It wasn’t until the 17th century that artists began to appreciate nature and create landscape paintings. It wasn’t until the 19th century, however, that landscapes really came into their own.
As I browsed around learning more about the history of landscape art, I came across these words from Widewalls:
“…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.”
Those words seem to clearly echo my husband’s sentiments about landscape painting, so I’m left to wonder why more artists aren’t turning to the natural world — or to urban settings, or cityscapes, another aspect of landscape art.
Why do I see so few landscapes when I visit studios? Why are there virtually no landscape paintings on display when my husband and I stroll through art fairs? Maybe it’s a local thing. It is puzzling, though. Are artists simply not creating landscapes now?
Sometimes I almost feel as though I’ve found a nice little niche for myself, as though I’m doing something most other artists aren’t, and in a way, that’s a good thing, I suppose. But I still don’t understand this. People do seem to love landscapes — even mine — so why aren’t more artists painting them?
Does being a landscape painter make me less of an artist? Maybe so, but I guess that’s all right. I love what I’m doing with my art, and I intend to keep right on doing it, getting better every day.