Back to Back Issues Page
Painting Art Ezine: Painting Landscapes
March 15, 2022

, welcome to the Ezine!

This Tip Makes Painting Landscapes Almost Too Easy

Do we use values when we are painting landscapes? You bet we do!

Values are the backbone of all good paintings. How do we use values in landscape paintings?

Painting Landscapes with Values

There are generally three basic items in landscape paintings.

Upright items like trees

Level areas like grass

Slanted areas like mountains

Each one of these items will have their own value. (A value is the light and darkness of the item.)

We are talking about natural things you would find out in nature. This does not apply to man-made items or cityscapes.


Our light obviously comes from the sun.

We can't always see the sun, if there are clouds, a tree or something in the way. But we still get light because it is reflected around in the atmosphere.

So, let's just say for the purposes of painting landscapes, that the light comes from the sky.

The sky is always the lightest area in a painting, even on cloudy or foggy days.

The blue sky of a sunlit day is actually a little darker, than a gray sky of a cloudy day. But, they both are still the lightest item of any landscape painting.

The Main Parts of a Landscape Painting

Today we will deal with the three common parts of a landscape.

1. Trees

Trees have the darkest value of any item of the landscape. They stand upright and receive the least amount of light the sky.

When we are painting landscapes, we make the trees the darkest value.

We need to be careful when we paint the tree highlights. The tree highlights will appear dark compared to the other areas of the landscape.

Also, we don't make as light as the level or angled areas of the painting.

There are always exceptions to every concept, such as yellow fall leaves. But in general, upright trees are the darkest value in a painting.

2. Level Ground Areas

The level areas may include soil, gravel, rocks, grass or flowers. They receive the most light and are illuminated more than any other area of the landscape.

The may be some undulations on the ground that cause shadows. But the ground, as a whole will still be the lightest area of a landscape painting.

Highlight areas on the ground will not be as light as the sky. The shadow areas on the ground will not be darker than the upright trees or the angled hills and mountains.

3. Slanted Areas

Hills and mountains are on an angle to the sky, sun. They receive a medium amount of light. So we paint them medium values.

Their shadowed areas will not be as dark as an upright tree. Their sunlit areas will not be a light value like the ground.

One exception is snow on the mountains which will actually be lighter than most skies.

As the hills and mountains get farther away their darks get lighter and the lights get darker. This is caused by aerial perspective.

Values Make Attractive Landscape Paintings

Use values in your landscape paintings.

1. Trees are the darkest value.

2. Hills are medium values.

3. Ground areas are light values.

The sky is always the lightest area in the painting.

Have Fun Painting!

Get More Painting Tips

Next month “Something Every Artist Needs to Know"

Back to Back Issues Page