Reference Photos for Painting: Landscapes

01
of 81

Reference Photo: Neist Point Lighthouse

Free Artist Reference Photograph Neist Point Lighthouse Isle of Skye
Reference Photos for Painting: Landscapes. Photo ©2010 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings.

There’s something about a spectacular landscape, whether it's a barren semi-desert scene or rolling green pastures, that makes my fingers itch to capture its essence on canvas....

See also: Terms of Use of these Artist's Reference Photos.

Neist Point Lighthouse is the most westerly point on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. It sits above rocky cliffs, but on the "land" side it's lush green grass in spring/summer where sheep graze. Note the large foghorn!

02
of 81

Reference Photo: Blue Boat Reflections

Artist's Reference Photo Blue Boat Reflections in the Sea
Reference Photos for Painting: Landscapes. Photo ©2010 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

This photo is the subject for the Painting Photos Challenge #14.

When painting this scene I would apply artistic license to remove the cars from the jetty (they distract from the boats) and make the water a more interesting color (deep, dark blues, not bright blue which will distract from the blue boat). The blue boat would be the focal point of the painting, as the splash of color immediately demands you attention and pulls your eye into the scene.

Consider your composition: do you want it as long and wide as the photo? Do you want more to the left of the blue boat? Do you want to show some sky above the horizon of the sea (which has a potential problem in three stacks bands: a band of jetty, a band of sea, and a band of sky). Do you want one boat or two?

03
of 81

Reference Photo: River at Night with Reflections

Artist's reference photos night time river with lights
Reference Photos for Painting: Landscapes Top: Original Photo. Bottom: Digitally altered with a paint-program filter. Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
04
of 81

Reference Photo: Eileen Donan Castle

Eileen Donan Castle Dornie Scotland Highlands
Reference Photos for Painting: Landscapes Eileen Donan Castle in Scotland. Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

This photo was taken on a crisp, clear winter's morning when the sun was reflecting brightly off the loch. The snow on the landscape and clouds helped create the silvery effect. When painting this scene, use aerial perspective to get the sense of distance.


Consider editing edit out the flagpole, which is a bit of visual clutter. I would probably also make the tree near the flagpole a bit taller so you can see a bit of trunk, not just the top, so it doesn't look like a shrub. And knock back the intensity of the sun's reflection on the water behind the castle on the right-hand edge so it doesn't distract the viewer's attention from the castle so much.

05
of 81

Bridge Reference Photographs: Brandywine River

Brandywine River Bridge reference photo
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings A bridge on the Brandywine River near the site of the first Depont estate (of Depont chemicals) in the USA. Photo © Susan Tschantz
06
of 81

Reference Photographs: New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge Bridge reference photo
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings The New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, the largest arch bridge in the Eastern USA. Photo © Susan Tschantz
07
of 81

Bridge Reference Photographs: New River Gorge

Bridge reference photo
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings A bridge on one of the hiking trails in the New River Gorge, a national park in West Virginia, USA. Photo © Susan Tschantz
08
of 81

Bridge Reference Photographs: New River Gorge Bridge

Bridge reference photo
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings Another view of the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, USA. Photo © Susan Tschantz
09
of 81

Bridge Reference Photographs: Bridge to the Isle of Skye in Scotland

Artist's Reference Photos Bridge to the Isle of Skye
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

A bridge connects the Isle of Skye to the Scottish mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh. The best views are along the coast to the east of Kyle, where there is plenty of parking. A great spot for some plein-air painting if the wind isn't too strong.

10
of 81

Reference Photographs: Winfield Bridge

Bridge reference photo
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings Winfield Bridge over the Kanawha River at sunset. Photo © Susan Tschantz

• This photo is the subject for the Painting Photos Challenge #5.

The colors in the clouds are reflected in the water, giving a unity to the composition across the strong lines of the silhouetted bridge. Paint the clouds and water with different textures -- the clouds smoother, the water rippled. Notice how the dark reflection of the bridge and bank is broken up by the ripples in the water.

Think about whether you're going to include the silhouetted shrubbery in the foreground or not. Whether you should crop off a bit of the right-hand side of the far bank so the bridge fills more of the width.

11
of 81

Bridge Reference Photographs: Hocking Hills State Park

Bridge reference photo
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings A bridge in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio, USA. This area is known for its many waterfalls and rock formations. Photo © Susan Tschantz
12
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Gabriola Island

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists Garbriola Island
The beach on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada. © Donna Sheppard
13
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Scotland 1

A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings.
14
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Scotland 2

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Scotland
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

• This photo is the subject for the Painting Photos Challenge #10. See these thumbnail sketches for composition suggestions.

This photo presents several challenges when using it for a painting:
1. The muddy track tends to lead the viewer's eye out off to the left and out the composition. Making the gate and stone wall next to it a strong visual element will help pull the eye back in.
2. The left-hand foreground is boring -- consider cropping off most of it or adding some wildflowers (for instance pink foxgloves).
3. The sky is dull -- consider adding a few fluffy clouds or cropping it so the sky is only a small part of the overall composition.
4. Leave out the telephone poll in the center of the field as it spoils the rural idyll.
5. Remember whatever you do with the sky needs to reflect in the puddles in the foreground.

15
of 81

Thumbnail Sketches of Ideas from Landscape Reference Photo

thumbnails for paintings
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings What about a square format with lots of sky? Or very minimal sky? A horizontal format with a sliver of sky or no sky at all? How about moving the gate on the other side of the road? Thumbnail sketches enable you to put down ideas quickly, and compare. Photo © 2010 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

These thumbnail sketches are ideas for how you might paint this reference photo. Always remember, a photo can (and should) be adapted to suit you.

On this page in my sketchbook I've quickly put down seven ideas for a composition using this reference photo. I've used a waterproof pen, then added a little watercolor. None are carefully plotted compositions nor detailed; thumbnails don't aim to be that, but rather fast lines drawn for the main shapes in the landscape, and then color blocked in to show possibilities.

16
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Scotland 3

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Scotland
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
17
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Scotland 4

Landscape reference photos for artists
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
18
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Scotland 5

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Scotland
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
19
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Scotland 6

Landscape reference photos for artists
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
20
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Scotland 7

Landscape reference photos for artists
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
21
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Cows in Scotland

Landscape reference photos for artists
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

There's something about the contradiction in this scene that appeals to me. It appears to be cows in an idyllic rural scene near Annan in southern Scotland, with cows munching contently on green pastures. But in the background, instead of hills, is Chapelcross nuclear power station. I've always thought it lent itself to a painting dominated by reds, something like this.

22
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Sheep in Scotland

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
23
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland

Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
A collection of landscape photos for artists to use as reference in paintings. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Caerlaverock Castle is near Annan, in southern Scotland.

24
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: West Sussex, England

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
West Sussex, England. Photo: © JES
25
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Herefordshire, England

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Herefordshire, England. Photo: © JES
26
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Gloucestershire, England

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Gloucestershire, England. Photo: © JES
27
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Norfolk, England

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Norfolk, England. Photo: © JES

This photo is the subject for the Painting Photos Challenge #2.

28
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Stratford-on-Avon, England

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Ann Hathaways Cottage, Stratford-on-Avon, England. Photo: © JES
29
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: East Sussex, England

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
East Sussex, England. Photo: © JES
30
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Overberg 1

Artist's landscape reference photos: Overberg
Image: ©2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Overberg region of South Africa is a wheat and canola growing area that in spring is a patchwork of greens and yellows.

31
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Overberg 2

Artist's Reference Photos: Landscapes -- Overberg
Image: ©2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Overberg region of South Africa is a wheat and canola growing area that in spring is a patchwork of greens and yellows. Ubiquitous gum trees also dot the landscape.

32
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: River Scene with Tree

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

There are two things you ought to consider in terms of composition when painting from this photo: where you put the horizon and river. As it is at the moment they're both a little close to the half-way point, tending to divide the composition in half.

I think I would extend the scene to the right and top, making it more of a panoramic landscape, rather than cropping it to a square format.

See Also:
Composition Class: Rule of Thirds

33
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Helderberg 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Helderberg 1
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

This is the view from the dam next to the coffee shop at the Helderberg Nature Reserve, about half an hour's drive from the centre of Cape Town, South Africa.

34
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Open Road into Sutherland

Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
35
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Mountain Pass

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
36
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Mountain Cottage

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Cottage 1
Image: © 2006 George Evans.
37
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Mountain Cottage as Watercolor

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Cottage
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

This is the photo of a mountain cottage turned into a watercolor with the colors adapted to create a sunrise scene.

38
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Karoo Houses

Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
39
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Cottage in Sutherland

Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
40
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Open Road 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Open Road
© David Valentine 2006
41
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Open Road 2

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Open Road
© David Valentine 2006
42
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Mesa 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Mesa
© David Valentine 2006
43
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Mesa 2

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Mesa
© David Valentine 2006
44
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Mesa 3

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Mesa
© David Valentine 2006

• This photo is the subject for the Painting Photos Challenge #8

If I were painting this landscape, I would use artistic license and leave out the fence posts in the foreground. They're a man-made intrusion into the landscape and a visual distraction.

Think about the format of your painting, whether you're going to use a landscape format or portrait format, or perhaps square. A landscape format will emphasis the wide open space, whereas a portrait format will emphasis the height and grandeur of the mesa.

45
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Mesa 4

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Mesa
© David Valentine 2006
46
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Mesa 5

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Mesa
© David Valentine 2006
47
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
48
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 2

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
49
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 3

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
50
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 4

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
51
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 5

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
52
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 6

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
53
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 7

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
54
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 8

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
55
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 9

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
56
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 10

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
57
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 11

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
58
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 12

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
59
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 13

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
60
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 14

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
61
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 15

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
62
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Grand Canyon 16

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Grand Canyon
© David Valentine 2006
63
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Orange River 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Orange River 1
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
64
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: St. Joe River in Northern Idaho

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Photo: © Sally Stratton

From the photographer/artist, Sally Stratton: This is a photo from the mountains south of the St. Joe River drainage in northern Idaho, which is my husband's favorite area in the world. I feel that sharing this photo extends his love of the mountains. It is my goal to paint this in watercolor and acrylics for my husband. I am fairly new to landscape painting, but I am learning fast and this is my next challenge.

From the Painting Guide: What a vista! Just look at how the mountains march off into the distance, in a spectacular example of aerial perspective. It's a scene that will make a beautiful painting.

In terms of composition, I'd probably move that large tree to the right, so it's not quite so central, and make it a little taller, so it reaches further into the sky rather than just topping the last bit of mountain. I wouldn't leave it out though, because its triangular shape echoes the angle of the foreground; together these strong lines make a lovely contrast to the curves in the mountains. (For more on this, see Altering a Reference Photo for a Painting.)

65
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: River 1

Photo by Julie-Anne
66
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: River 2

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Photo by Julie-Anne
67
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: River 3

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Photo © Julie-Anne
68
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Blue Ridge Misty Mountain 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Photo by Alison
69
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Early Fall Mountains

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Photo by Alison
70
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Great Falls National Park 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Photo by Dana
71
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Great Falls National Park 2

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Photo © Dana
72
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Waterfall

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists
Photo by Briege
73
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Spring Flowers in South Africa 1

Spring Flowers South Africa
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

This photo of spring flowers that appear in August/September in West Coast/Namaqualand region of South Africa, was taken near Niewoudtville. Yellow and white daisies as far as you can see!

74
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Spring Flowers in South Africa 2

Spring Flowers in South Africa near Botterkloof Pass
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

This photo of spring flowers that appear in August/September along the West Coast of South Africa all the way up to Namaqualand, was taken near the Botterkloof Pass, on the R364 north of Clanwilliam, towards Calvinia. It's as if Mother Nature has tipped over her palette, splattering the landscape with color!

75
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Hex River Valley 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Hex River
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Hex River Valley is a grape-producing region about an hour-and-a-half from Cape Town, South Africa, renowned for the magnificent colors the vines produce in autumn (as well as the quality of its wines).

76
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Hex River Valley 3

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Hex River 3
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
77
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Hex River Valley 2

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Hex River 2
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
78
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Karoo 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Karoo
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
79
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Karoo 2

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Karoo 5
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
80
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Karoo 3

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Karoo
Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc
81
of 81

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists: Table Mountain 1

Landscape Reference Photos for Artists : Table Mountain, Cape Town
Reference Photos for Painting: Landscapes. Image: © 2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

No prizes for guessing why the mountain that stretches around the city of Cape Town in South Africa is called Table Mountain!