Atmospheric Landscape Paintings

by Oct 5, 2020Atmospheric Landscape Paintings

What are atmospheric landscapes?

Recently, I’ve been participating in virtual artist talks. As viewers are only able to see the work online it’s difficult to get a full grasp of the surface quality and the texture of the paintings. A common question is “what are atmospheric landscapes?”

I describe my paintings as atmospheric landscapes because of the color palettes I use that create an uplifting experience allowing the viewer to pause and breathe in nature. The light pulls you in and conveys a mystery of what lies beyond, creating a mood of tranquility. The combination of light and color creates an ethereal or luminous quality that contributes to this atmosphere.

Sunset painting of Ocean beach in San Francisco

“Last Light at Ocean Beach”, oil on canvas, 36″ x 36″

This is highlighted by the painting style that I’ve been developing over my career. I start a painting with a loose layer of bright yellow or an intense pink blocking out shapes and shadows. Building up the image with subsequent layers of color, adding and wiping out countless layers of paint. I go from dark to light and back again glazing transparent colors over opaque colors resulting in an overall glow. In the end you will only be able to see glimmers of the pinks or yellows flickering underneath.

Painting a yellow and pink under painting

An example of the loose under painting. The first layer of yellows and pinks.

My paintings often center around a water source. Being near water has always made me feel happy. I’m drawn to the calming effects of looking at the ocean, rivers or ponds, and make them an integral part of or the main focus of many of my paintings.

In “Reflections on the Rogue” inspired by the Rogue River in Oregon I’ve used an analogous color palette with the dominate color blue, which allow the healing qualities of water and its reflections to shine through.

atmospheric landscape painting with blue sky water reflections

“Reflections on the Rogue” oil on canvas, 48″ x 48″

In “Coast Light”, the mood is set with the dramatic light on the horizon and an array of grays reflecting on the waters of a secluded cove. I use light and color to express a contemplative or reflective atmosphere within the paintings.


Coast Light Atmospheric Landscape Painting

While we can’t always be out in nature, my paintings act as a bridge to provide a space for contemplative reflection and to quiet the mind.


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