Isaac Levitan Sketches – Master Class

Isaac Levitan Sketches – Master Class

I wanted to take a moment to share part of a Master Class lesson featuring the sketches of Isaac Levitan. As you know I am a big fan of landscape painting. Most likely because most of my past illustrations had a landscape in the background. 

I usually painted a portrait on the book cover of the main character with a landscape as the back drop.

This particular video below analyzes how Isaac Levitan takes his viewers on a journey though his landscape sketch. He almost always takes the viewer on a journey through his scene via a lead in of some sort. In this case it’s the footprints in the snow.

He then uses contrast in tandem with hard edges to lead the viewer to various parts of the landscape sketch. Levitan uses a nice compliment of hard and soft edges to control where the viewer looks first second and third. He also uses a balance of hard and soft edges to create a foreground and background.

Lastly Levitan certainly understood the power of shape. A lot of artists get too caught up with texture leaving powerful shapes out of their landscape sketches. Do your best to use a light, middle tone and dark shape somewhere in your scene.

The next time you set out to compose a landscape use all of these techniques to your advantage. Use contrast, edges, as well as shape to take the viewer of your imagery through a cool little journey.



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Isaac Levitan – Master Landscape Painter

Isaac Levitan – Master Landscape Painter

I discovered the work of Isaac Levitan roughly one year ago. I wish I knew of his work back in the day when I first started working as a freelance illustrator. Isaac Levitan is a master landscape painter. You can really see in this one painting how he captures light, squint at it.

He is really known for capturing both mood and light. One of my biggest struggles as a painter when first starting out was capturing light. I simply didn’t know what to do.

I discovered later that incorporating shadows was one way to capture light. Without shadows there can be no light. However what I didn’t realize is that you have to incorporate both shadows and cast shadows. Cast shadows are really where it’s at in terms of capturing light. 

As an image maker you always want to think about the time of day. In this particular Levitan painting it is mid day, therefore there are no long cast shadows. One would incorporate long cast shadow during the late afternoon. Makes sense right, however this is really easy to overlook when we sit down to create our art whether with brush or pencil.

I just recently finished a brand new master class lesson showcasing the work of Isaac Levitan. In this master class series I do my best to analyze the work of different artists. Analyzing the work of these old masters is a great way to learn different techniques. When you study a multiple pieces of the artist’s work, that is when you discover trends.

Most artists tend to use the same techniques over and over again. We like to feel comfortable when creating. 

Take a moment to study your own work. Not just one piece but a bunch of them. Do you see shadows and cast shadows? If you don’t then you will want to study the work of Isaac Levitan further.



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