Richard Parkes Bonington 1802-1828 from artrenewal.org
The root skill in landscape painting, (and probably all other sorts as well ) is drawing. Almost invariably my experience with workshop students leads me ton believe virtually all of them haven't suffiicient drawing chops to deal with the complexity of nature. That is doubly true as the light moves and that which they were observing the minute before is now illuminated from a new angle. I do get some students, often atelier trained before the cast who are happily able to render that before them with comparative ease. If you would set a goal for yourself to reach first on your journey into landscape, it should be the ability to coldly render the facts of nature before you. In a perfect world (or one that appeared perfect ) that would be enough, you would show up, report, and cash the check. But painting being an interpretive art and all, more is required in the practice of making pictures from nature.
That other thing is design.
DESIGN IS THAT PART OF A PAINTING THAT IS NEITHER COLOR OR DRAWING.
Wouldn't that make a fine neck tattoo?
As the root skill of representation is drawing, the root skill of design is simplification. Observed nature is often full of chaos and "noise". Designing a painting is imposing an order on it. The first step to that is to eliminate the nonessential, the complexly random and insistent filigree of endless crap that occludes most painting locations. This is particularly true in my New England landscape. Out in the wide open spaces there is more space, opened widely. A boatyard scene that I showed you last night is a fine example of a good subject but it was occluded with way too much baroque doo-daddery skittering about the image like spider monkeys on meth.
The first tool to getting rid of that is simplifying. The nonessential is jettisoned and the essential is presented simply. A clear statement is the result of refining the dross from a landscape. A landscape simplified into a handful of shapes can then be arranged into an intelligent abstract which is itself beautiful apart from what it represents.