Becoming a Landscape Painter

After leaving art school, the student faces many possible directions. I once heard Mr. Reilly say that, “Students get out of school and ask the Cop on the corner how they should paint.” He had seen many promising students who seemed to have, in his words, “The will to fail.” The best methods of providing for advancement are drawing and painting frequently, devouring books by and about master artists and taking the ‘advice’ found by studying fine paintings. These were the practices I adopted.

Painting landscapes was something I loved to do with my spare time, not yet a career choice but the most likely direction. From my art school training I knew how to draw and paint the figure, the most demanding skills and a solid a foundation for learning landscape. Mr. Reilly had provided many ideas but it was clear that a great deal of further development was necessary in order to begin a career as a landscape painter.

Red Barn

Among my first Reilly School landscapes (circa 1965), oil on canvas board, 8 x 10″

Red Barn

Oil on watercolor paper, 12 x 16″. Invented sketch (2006) using the Reilly school study as a guide.

One of the first challenges was to learn how to use an open palette. Neutralizing with complements and arranging the paint on my palette without mixing strings of values. My years as a professional actor provided ample free time for the discovery and application of painting ideas.