Learn Landscape Speedpainting in Photoshop

Ok, what’s all the fuss with speedpainting?

Is the whole point to just create amazing art as quickly as possible?

Well, not exactly. Let’s talk a bit about what speedpainting is and why it’s an incredibly valuable skill to have in your artist’s toolbox.

What is speedpainting?

There’s definitely a trend out there of artists doing these very quick paintings and posting them on Instagram or YouTube. And it might be easy to look at that and see it as just, “look how quickly I can make an awesome painting.”

But this strategy is actually an incredibly useful tool, just maybe not for the reasons you think.

Basically, a speedpainting is any painting, digital or traditional, that’s started and brought to a “finished” state usually in less than an hour (we’ll return to that “finished” thing in a minute). Sometimes this is even as little as 10 minutes!

Actually, one of the most famous speedpainters you may already know of is Bob Ross, who painted with oils on canvas. You wouldn’t know it from his super relaxed approach, but he was able to create incredible detailed landscape paintings in just 30 minutes with some very simple techniques.

Bob Ross in The Joy of Painting, creating a speedpainting
Bob Ross in “The Joy of Painting”

Why learn speedpainting?

Look, I don’t expect you to be the next Bob Ross. He was completely next level.

I want to talk about using this technique to improve your overall workflow and mindset around art.

Basically, when you set a specific time goal, you’re forcing your brain to do some quick calculations throughout the process. It forces you to bring awareness to what you’re doing while you’re painting.

Chances are, if this is your first time, you might look over at the timer and see you have 15 minutes left, and realize you got sucked into some small detail that doesn’t matter that much.

Mindful painting

A 30 minute landscape speedpainting in Photoshop by Eben Schumacher depicting a mountain and green landscape
One of my 30 minute speedpaintings

When we bring our attention to our process, we start to identify our common mistakes. We learn to recognize them quickly and move past them before we become obsessed with “fixing” something.

I can’t tell you how many hours I used to spend working and re-working small details in my paintings before zooming out and realizing that it hadn’t really changed anything, or, more often, it had actually made things worse

Looking at the bigger picture

Speedpainting forces us to work on the painting as a whole, and not in small parts. We have to focus on getting the composition and basic shapes right, and doing so quickly.

This shifts our focus from trying to make everything look cool and realistically rendered, to creating strong compositions and value structures and creating points of focus to contrast with areas of non-focus, which are really what makes a good painting great.

Improving efficiency

Finally, you’ll learn to paint better, more quickly.

This isn’t so important if you’re just painting for fun, of course. But if you’re trying to be a professional artist, efficiency is everything.

If you charge $600 for a painting, would you rather finish it in 10 hours or 3 hours?

Let me break that down for you: In the first scenario, you’re making $60/hr, and in the second, you’re making $200/hr.

Of course, we don’t want to cut corners with quality. But if you take a close look at your process, you might find that you spend a lot of time making unnecessary edits, reworking the composition, and getting lost in pointless detailing.

So give this a try and see how it works for you. I’ve actually learned to enjoy this quite a bit, and it’s also a great way to warm up for a larger project. Oh and by the way, these don’t have to be “finished” masterpieces every time. It’s just an exercise. Enjoy it. And if you want to keep refining it later, you totally can.

Actually, if you want to see how I make a full landscape painting from start to finish, check out my landscape tutorial right here.

Anyway, I’ll see you all on the next one.


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