Landscape art is any type of art that takes a landscape as its subject matter. This could be a dense forest, a sunset scene, or a wispy formation of clouds. In general, there are three different types of landscape art. These sometimes overlap because there aren't many firm rules when it comes to art and creativity, but if you're interested in learning more about landscape art or even having a go at creating some yourself, then it's important to know about these three forms.
Representational, impressionistic, and abstract are the three main types of landscape art.
Representational Landscape Art
If you've ever looked at a landscape painting and thought it looked a lot like a photo, you were probably looking at a work of representational landscape art. Not all representational art is a photolike copy of reality, but this form of landscape art does aim to look like the real thing. The artist looks at the colors, shadows, perspective, composition, and other details of a landscape and aims to reproduce these on the canvas or other surface on which they are working.
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A piece of representational landscape art could be in many different media, including photography. Photography is not necessarily always representational. Some modern photography can be impressionistic and abstract even if the subject is a real thing.
Impressionistic Landscape Art
Impressionistic landscape art takes a step back from representational landscape art. Instead of faithfully representing a scene, impressionistic art aims to evoke emotions and feelings, specifically the emotions and feelings of the artist when she looked upon a scene. You know how the world seems more beautiful when you're in a good mood or vice versa? That's the inner world reflected onto the outer world that impressionistic art aims to capture.
Why use the term "impressionistic" and not "impressionist"? The two terms mean almost the same thing, but the impressionist movement was actually a specific art movement from the 1860s. Famous impressionist artists include Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Cezanne. Not all artists who work in an impressionistic style these days are connected in any way to that earlier movement, although they may have been inspired by it.
Abstract Landscape Art
In direct contrast to representational art, abstract art doesn't attempt to visually represent reality. An abstract landscape may have been inspired by reality, but it doesn't literally represent it. Shapes, colors, forms, marks, and other effects may not look much like a landscape at all, or it might focus on one aspect of a landscape, like a tree branch or a wave in the ocean, and exaggerate its importance within the overall composition and focus of the work of art.
There's a subtle difference between abstract landscape art and abstracted landscape art. Abstract art isn't representational at all, but abstracted art is partway on the journey to abstraction. In a work of abstracted landscape art, you might have a scene where you can make out certain elements, like a bridge, a seascape, or clouds, but the overall effect is still not representational.