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Learn to Paint Acrylic Landscapes with Terry Harrison

Posted on Sat 12 Jul 2008

How to paint acrylic landscapes with Terry Harrison 

In this month’s article, Terry Harrison covers a range of traditional landscape techniques including how to paint skies, distant foliage, foreground trees, water and reflections.

Don’t limit yourself to just one approach for each painting: some areas require texture, others a smooth surface or carefully applied fine detail. Last month we covered stippling, flicking and dragging; this month we add two new techniques to our acrylics’ repertoire:


Moving the brush from side to side across the paper using horizontal brushstrokes. This allows the paint to flow through the hairs and onto the painting, creating an even surface.

DabbingSky and hills

This is a similar technique to stippling (see last month) but, instead of using the end of the brush, we use the flat of the brush to pat and drag paint onto the surface.

Colour mixing

When mixing subtle colours, always begin with the light colour first and introduce the darker colours slowly. If you begin with a darker colour you may have to add a huge amount of the light, which creates a lot of unwanted paint.                                                

Technique for sky and hills

1 Using the Golden Leaf brush, add ultramarine to plenty of white. With this light blue mix, cover the bottom half of the sky.

2 Add more ultramarine to the mix and use this darker colour at the top of the sky. Clean the brush.

3 Add ultramarine and burnt umber to white to create a soft grey. Use this mix and the dabbing technique to create the cloud shape.

4 A mix of white and a touch of yellow ochre is painted on top of the cloud for its lighter highlights.

5 Create the hills by using a mix of ultramarine and permanent rose with some white. Apply this over the lower part of the sky. While this is still wet, paint the lighter sunlit sections of the hills using white, permanent rose, ultramarine and raw sienna.

Distant trees

Distant Trees1 Mix a little ultramarine into white. It’s important that there is enough mix to cover the entire sky area as it will be difficult for you to match the same colour again. Unmatched mixes will result in a blotchy, uneven finish.

2 Paint a wash using broad, horizontal brushstrokes across the paper, blending the strokes to eliminate streaks. The lower half of the sky should be slightly lighter than the top.

3 Mix cobalt blue with a hint of green gold and plenty of white to create a light blue/green colour. Using the Foliage brush, stipple the distant trees into rounded forms to represent a bank of trees.

4 With a mix of green gold with a hint of cobalt blue and plenty of white, create the sunlit side of the trees by stippling again.

5 With a similar blue/green colour, block in the distant fields, then add yellow ochre and white to the foreground.

6 The hedgerows and the tree in the centre of the painting are painted with a darker mix of cobalt blue and green gold with less white than before. The sunlit part of the tree is stippled with green gold, a touch of cobalt blue and white.

7 Paint the tree trunk with the same darker colour as the hedgerow but using the Half Rigger brush. The highlight on the tree trunk is made with the ochre mix used in the foreground.

Foreground tree and fence

The sky and distant landscape are painted in the same way as the other illustrations on these pages. Look back at last month’s techniques to create the main tree trunks.

1 With a combination of the Medium Detail and the Half Rigger brushes, paint the tree trunks using a mix of
Hooker’s green and burnt umber.

2 Mix a dark green using Hooker’s green, burnt umber and ultramarine, then stipple the dark colour with theForeground Tree
Foliage brush to form a canopy, leaving gaps where the sky shows through. Add shade under the tree to create a dark base from which the tree grows.

3 Using the Half Rigger, add branches into the light gaps to complete the tree detail.

4 Using the Foliage brush, mix white and green gold and stipple a lighter colour where the sunlight catches the tree.

5 Stipple the foreground with a mix of green gold, white and yellow ochre.

6 With the Half Rigger, add the fence using the same dark green as the tree trunks. Add highlights using a mixture of yellow ochre and white.

7 Finally, add a few flowers in the foreground to create a hint of colour.


As with many landscape paintings, the sky is painted first.

ReedsRiver bank reflections

1 Begin by painting the water using the Foliage brush and a mix of white with ultramarine. Allow this to dry.

2 Using the flicking technique, the Fan Stippler and green gold, flick the grasses upward.

3 Use the same colour and drag the reflections down into the water.

4 Mix Hooker’s green and burnt umber and flick this darker green into the lighter colour to create the grasses.

5 Drag the dark green over the top of the lighter colour to create the reflections.

6 Finish by lightly dragging the brush horizontally along the water’s edge.

This extract was taken from an article by Terry Harrison in Leisure Painter, August 2008 issue. For more articles on painting with acrylic,  click here

Read more articles from Terry:

How to paint a rustic doorway

How to paint a simple tree

Watch video clips of Terry painting:

Improve your acrylic painting with Terry Harrison

Terry's top tips for watercolour

Learn to Paint Acrylic Landscapes with Terry Harrison


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