George Innes , who painted the wonderfully atmospheric landscape scene above, "Pool in the Woods" in 1892, said:
"I don't illustrate travel guide books, madame, I paint paintings"
Lovely, isn't it. Learning to paint good landscapes is so much more than running around with a camera, snapping picture postcard shots, and then, subsequently trying to reproduce that image as a painting. WHAT FOR? You have the photo. Do you also need to paint from it? If so, why? Do you have something more to say about the scene that the camera was not able to capture? I hope so.
Having something personal to say about the scene, is, in my opinion, what makes the difference between a landscape painting which grabs your attention, and a landscape painting which could be used to illustrate a travel guide book.
It is the reason why I often recommend to students that they BEGIN WITH A TITLE. Giving "voice" to your thoughts helps you to find out what it is about the scene that caught your attention. After all, the world is full of gorgeous views and wonderful corners - you can sit and drink in a fabulous scene without too much thinking about it, just feeling admiration. It isn't enough, if you want to create a painting with more meaning to it than a photo. You might as well get out your camera and just use that. As a painter, you can do, and say, more than a camera ever can.
Look at these images. Loriann Signori's atmospheric images lean towards abstraction but are recognisably landscapes. She confesses a fascination for fields - for this picture, she said "the fields in Washington always enchant me". She was ENCHANTED. And so the painting is enchanting.