Landscape paintings, or landscape art, features the expansive beauty of a natural outside scene—hence the name landscape. The focus of landscape art is the land, the sky, and all the pieces in between. Often, water may be included in the scene in the form of any natural water element such as a lake, river, or an ocean. Flora, fauna, and human subjects are also elements that may be included in this style.
The highlight of American Indian subjects are plentiful. Perhaps the popularity of southwestern art, which include Native American subjects is due to the vastness of the American frontier. Indeed, the beauty and grandness of the natural American landscapes fascinate artists. Nature itself has traditionally compelled painters, poets, sculptors—artists—to recreate the beauty and power of the wild. And what could be wilder than the frontier and the wild west? Indians of the countless diverse tribes of America hold a unique and potent symbiotic relationship with nature. So to view Indian subjects in the context of the art often elicits feelings of awe.
Landscape paintings are composed to depict largeness. Many artists create this effect with a wide framing. A landscape painting will often include natural land formations such as hills, mountains, cliffs, and valleys. Vegetation such as forests or grasslands is also commonplace in landscape paintings. The sky is another critical component of the makeup of a landscape painting. To create that vast and awe-inspiring feeling, the sky may be filled with colorful cloud formations from a sunrise or sunset. Sometimes the clouds are structured in grand, heavenly structures harkening to the divine. Weather is another component that many art pieces use to play with themes of wildness and power. A great raining storm cloud or a bolt of lightning could be used to display the energy and force of nature.
Almost every landscape painting will include water in one form or another. Even a dry desert landscape with a hot blue cloudless sky may include a water-like mirage—nature’s way of producing water where none seems to exist. Landscape paintings often include clouds, rivers, creeks, lakes, or possibly the ocean. Waterfalls are a literally moving way to incorporate the natural beauty of water into a landscape painting. Indeed, flowing water fascinates artists. A running river, lapping waves over a breezy lake, the crashing salt waves of a rocky beach—water is a fascinating example of natural beauty, power, and mystery.
It is impossible to have a landscape painting without the land. Stones, boulders, hills, mountains, cliffs, caves, dirt, sand, badlands, mud, clay, valleys, snow-covered soil—whatever land form one can imagine, landscape paintings artists have depicted it. Paintings of the American frontier captures the natural diversity of the land. Forests, plains, deserts, and mountainous regions are common fixtures in Indian and Cowboy frontier landscape paintings. They are unavoidably romantic—nature’s beauty and wildness compel the artist and the beholder alike to experience an emotional reaction.