Painting landscapes - Mark Fehlman -
Mark Fehlman, “Carrabelle Blue,” 18 x 24 in.

On painting landscapes > Mark Fehlman has been a full-time artist for about 15 years. His paintings, which are based in plein air, are made up of an assembly of shapes and patterns, animated by colorful use of complementary color that gives a strong sense of light and energy.


Great work is designed and built using sophisticated tools like value, shape, color, and painted surface. These all go together to become a puzzle, skillfully created to become a visual delight for the viewer.

Painting landscapes - Mark Fehlman -
Mark Fehlman, “Distant View,” 12 x 16 in.

Painting Landscapes: Five Pointers for Artists

1. A powerful painting is 75 percent preparation and . . . 25 percent is painting.
2. Great work is built on design and use of fundamental concepts that can be learned and utilized.
3. Building painting confidence is paramount in the improvement of a student’s skills.
4. Design is almost everything. You almost can’t lose if you have strong value shapes in a basic composition.
5. When painting in the field, don’t make it about trying to paint a masterpiece. You can be overtaken by the desire to “get it right.” Your goal is to get ideas for color relationships, shape patterns, and dark/light relationships rather than painting an accurate image of the scene.

Finding the Ideal Painting Subject

I usually drive or walk around to see what catches my eye when painting landscapes. I like to paint in strong light, but not in the middle of the day. I search for scenes with strongly defined elements in clear compositional patterns. And finally, I love color and visual interest. I shy away from vistas and gravitate to structures or man-made elements in the environment.

Painting landscapes - Mark Fehlman -
Mark Fehlman, “California Farmlands,” 12 x 16 in.

Planning for Powerful Paintings

As mentioned above, a powerful painting is 75 percent preparation and 25 percent painting. Planning and design are a major part of the preparation. A great painting usually is based on a strong compositional diagram.The diagram is like the backbone of a painting. It is the underlying structure that holds everything together. Without a basic structure or organizing idea, the painted image will feel weak and unorganized. This is all a part of the planning process. Also the use of shape, value, editing, and dominant color selection are all a part of the planning process. Once all of this planning has taken place, the painting is effortless.

Listen to this episode of the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads, featuring guest artist Mark Fehlman:


ABOUT THE ARTIST Mark Fehlman artist
Mark Fehlman ( as an architect for 35 years, as the design partner for a San Diego–based firm specializing in health clubs, multiplex movie theaters, multi-family housing, and master-planned communities. Mark is equally comfortable in figurative and landscape subjects that feature strong composition, well-defined value relationships, and vibrant color.

He has won numerous awards in various shows, and his work has been included regularly in the California Art Club “Gold Medal” show, the “On Location in Malibu” show at Pepperine’s Weisman Museum, the “Tejon Ranch” show at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, and the Maynard Dixon Country Show in Utah. He is a signature artist member of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association and an artist member of the California Art Club.

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