Category Archives: Landscape painting

Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

www.segmation.comThe interesting life of Thomas Moran started with humble beginnings and ended in the Whitehouse.  Moran was no politician though; he was an artist who raised the bar for American painters and illustrators. More so, Thomas Moran was responsible for making America what is it today.

Like many history makers, Thomas Moran immigrated to America from England in the 19th century. He was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1837. Early in his life, his entire family moved to a suburb of Philadelphia.

The four Moran brothers, (two being older than Thomas) were all artists, either by profession or hobby. Thomas’s artistic nature and innate talent began to show at the age of 16 when he apprenticed for a wood engraving firm. In this role he was diligent to develop abilities in illustration and watercolor. By 1860, Thomas sought to infuse his personal art with fresh inspiration.

He traveled to the Great Lakes to paint their landscape. After returning to Philadelphia, he was able to sell lithographs of his work. This encouraged the growing artist to travel and further his skill in drawing and painting landscapes. Moran found himself in London next, studying the works of J. M. W. Turner. It is noted that Moran appreciated the esteemed artist’s choices of landscape and color usage.www.segmation.com

Between his time in London and his next adventure, Thomas Moran’s landscape art appeared in numerous publications. With some notoriety and industry connections, Moran was asked to be one of the first artists to document The West with the United States Geological Survey. Throughout a forty day journey, Moran kept a diary of drawings reflecting the various landscapes he and the team encountered. As a result of his art, and the team’s work, Congress was persuaded to name Yellowstone a national park. In 1872, it was the first park of its kind.

This voyage created a good amount of recognition and wealth for the artist. Yellowstone inspired Moran’s infamous piece, a 7′ by 12′ oil painting appropriately titled, The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The United States government purchased this for $10,000 that year. This is the same amount paid for another large painting inspired by a different survey that took place two years later.

The Chasm of Colorado was the result of a survey that sent Moran and Army General, John Wesley Powell from Salt Lake City to, what would soon be known as Zion National Park. The results of this survey were numerous illustrations, publications, and growing notoriety of both the artist and America’s unseen west.

Throughout the course of his United States travels, Moran grew a strong affinity towards the Grand Canyon in Arizona. In fact, every year for the last 25 years of his life, he would visit this source of inspiration. Of the natural wonder, Moran wrote, “Of all places on earth the great canyon of Arizona is the most inspiring in its pictorial possibilities.”

At the age of 89, Thomas Moran passed away in Santa Barbara, where he lived out his senior years. His legacy, on the other hand, continued to live. The oil paintings bought for $10,000 by the government were later featured in the Smithsonian. In addition, Mount Moran in Grand Teton National Park was named after the artist. There are many other landmarks and museums that have collections or pieces of his 1,500 oils paintings, 800 watercolors, and countless illustrations.

Thomas Moran’s portrayal of the magnificent West united the states of America. With that honor comes recognition that transcends time. On a wall in the Oval Office hangs Moran’s The Three Tetons. His place in American history has been solidified; his legacy lives on a Whitehouse wall.

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Tips for Improving your Landscape Drawing Skills

Whatever your level of skill, these tips will help guide you in developing habits that will grow your abilities to draw and paint landscape scenery with just a couple of weeks of consistent practice.

Implement these for 15 or 20 minutes a day and the improvements will be greatly evident.

Tip No. 1 – Quick Impression Drawings

Get out of the house! Go to the zoo, the museum, a park, an apartment building complex, somewhere other than where you typically draw. Focus on drawing moving things. Drawing objects in motion will help you develop the flow. Every experienced artist can tell you about the flow. Your speed of drawing will increase by practicing these quick impression sketches, but will also help you to develop your perspective drawing skills and build up a repertoire of animals, objects, and people that you can readily access from your mental toolbox.

Tip No. 2 – Blind Drawing

This method is mentioned in all major drawing instruction books and often goes unnoticed or ignored by most artists. This method (also known as “blind contour drawing”) requires that the artist follow its subject with his/her eyes and not focus on the paper they are drawing on. This technique is a great way to keep your drawings vivid and has been dubbed the ultimate anti-stiffening tool in a professional artists bag of tricks.

Tip No. 3 Forget the eraser!

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” – Miles Davis

Every line you draw is a representation of your own handwrite. This is the unique signature of your artistic expression. Do you really want to erase that? Practice making every line work for you.

Tip No. 4 Take measurements!

One of the largest sources of complaints of growing artists is that their proportions are off. You don’t need to get fancy here. Use your pencil or other small stick, extend your arm as far as it will go (in order to ensure accuracy for each measurement), and note with your eyes how much of the length of your stick that particular object runs. Drawing roofs, chimneys, beaches, trees, animals, and many other things become much easier to make proportionate when you implement this small technique.

Tip No. 5 – Draw negative space

When you see a bale of hay, a fishing net, or long strands of hair, are you trying to individually draw the lines in the net, the fence, or the hair? Try implementing this technique and draw the negative space and see what objects it works best on. It’s a nifty trick that, when mastered, provides a faster, easier, and better looking drawing of more intricate items.

So grab your pad and pencil and practice, practice, practice! After all, this is the one surefire way to improve!

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Thomas Cole Founder of the Hudson River School www.segmation.com

Thomas Cole Founder of the Hudson River School Pattern Set for Segmation SegPlay® PC released (see more details here)

Thomas Cole (1801-1848) was an American artist who is regarded as the Founder of the Hudson River School. This school represented an art movement that emphasized realistic and detailed portraits of the American landscape with themes of romanticism and naturalism. Thomas Cole was born in England, but moved to the United States as a youth. His talents for painting were soon discovered and his works focused on landscapes. He also painted allegorical works including his famous “The Course of Empire” series. Our large set of Thomas Cole paintings includes many of his most recognized works including “The Oxbow”, “The Garden of Eden”, “The Fountain of Vaucluse”, “A View near Tivoli”, “Falls of Kaaterskill”, “Il Penseroso”, “The Course of Empire Consummation”, “Autumn in the Catskills”, “Arch of Nero”, “Mount Aetna from Taormina”, “Home in the Woods”, “Self Portrait”, and “Titan’s Goblet”.

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Thomas Cole Founder of the Hudson River School

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A New Perspective on Color

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We often talk about linear perspective — the way the shape and appearance of an object changes with distance — but the phenomenon known as color perspective is equally important. Also known as “aerial perspective,” it deals with the way that distance and interference from the air alters colors in landscapes, backgrounds, and other elements of a painting.

How are colors changed by distance? Most hues begin to look more blue as they get further away. Even reds, oranges, and yellows lose vibrancy and become lighter and hazier due to the volume of air between the viewer and the object. A brightly colored object will seem just as bright in contrast to nearby items, even if it is far away – but it will look a whole lot less bright in comparison to something closer to the viewer.

Weather also impacts color perspective by altering hues slightly. Cloudy conditions, sunrise, and sunset all affect the way colors appear, and an experienced artist knows to take that into account rather than painting every object as if it was near and in full sunlight.

Considering color perspective means thinking about the assumptions we make in our art. If a house is red or a tree’s leaves are green, those colors aren’t constant; they change with distance, weather, and the quality of light at a given time of day – all things that an artist needs to think about when painting for realism.