Landscape painting depicts mainly natural scenery of trees, mountains, forests, river valleys, lakes, and stormy seas or beach in sunset. Especially drawing where the subject is a vista, with all its components are juxtaposed consistently in the whole composition. But often these panoramas work as backdrops of other depictions. Since panoramic view, weather condition is usually described through depiction of sky.
There have traditionally been two distinct styles in landscape paintings. They are broadly identified as Western painting and Chinese art. Both the traditions are almost a millennium old.
Since the 19th century describing landscape has taken a significant place in photography. Present article will keep its vista confined in the arena of paintings.
Historic drawings on panoramic views of nature or town or villages seem to be imaginary. To reconstruct the randomness of objects in natural forms, a variety of techniques were used. Artists like Cennino Cennini of medieval suggested to use uneven stones as miniature models for depicting cliffs or large rugged rocks. This trend has been noticed to be followed by Thomas Gainsborough and Poussin. But there is no thumb rule of replicating large structure while crating their miniatures on canvas. So Degas recreated clouds by holding crumpled handkerchiefs against the light. Alexander Cozens put ink blots randomly to create the basic shape of an imaginary landscape. The first Western rural landscape, reportedly, was The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Konrad Witz (1444) with a distinctive background view across Lake Geneva to the Le Mole peak. While some panoramic views drawn by Durer are depiction of natural phenomenon in reality, some clearly are imaginary or invented ones. Most of these pictures were drawn with watercolors. Some works in oil paints of earlier time has also been found.
Roman and Chinese paintings on wide panoramas often have a screen of mountains to the farthest end of the view. These works did not leave much space for sky. Yet putting mist and clouds in between mountains are quite common in the Chinese paintings of landscape. In olden days the clouds were used as hiding places of deities. Both large panels and miniatures, especially in manuscripts had characteristic background above the horizon and patterned or gold “sky”. This trend continued till 1400 AD, approximately. The differences have also been seen in frescos by Giotto who showed blue sky. To prevent sagging of papers over large blank spaces, while creating woodcuts, some painters practised squiggling of birds or clouds. Durer was chief among these practitioners. Chinese tradition uses ink as medium on the base of silk or paper for of creating pictures of landscapes. This works are traditionally in monochrome. The characteristic of these creations are importance given on each brushstroke to depict “ts’un” or wrinkles on the flanks of mountains.