How to Paint Rocks and Cliffs with Linda Glover Gooch

A Study on How To Paint Rocks And Cliffs

Cliffs and rocks are a large part of the landscape painters journey. Whether you're painting a rugged coastline or a rocky mountain, mastering these elements is a valuable lesson and necessary to create beautiful oil painting with this subject matter.

The type of painting you do, studio or plein air does not matter. The same knowledge and skill will be put to the test with these great monumental type scenes.

In this lesson, we'll explore techniques on how to paint rocks and cliffs. 

Watch the video below as I explain just how I approach the large cliff walls at Lake Powell. 

Learn About "Air" or "Atmosphere" Mixture

Helpful Tips on How To Paint Rocks And Cliffs

Painting cliffs and rocks in oil can be a rewarding experience. 

By following these steps and practicing regularly, you can improve your skills and create stunning landscapes that capture the beauty and ruggedness of these natural elements.

Review the tips below on how to paint rocks and cliffs successfully. Experiment with different techniques and approaches to find what works best for you, and don't be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Happy painting!

Shadows are the building blocks of beautiful cliffs. They are an important elements in learning how to paint rocks and cliffs. 
A shadow is the painter's best friend. I've listed this twice to point out the importance of this part of your structure and make you THINK! 
Adding texture to your cliffs and rocks by using a palette knife or other tools will create rough, uneven surface typical of cliffs and rocks. Experiment with different angles and pressures to achieve the desired effect.
Think abstractly when designing your drawing. Be creative and don't be married to your scene or photograph. 
Start with the big picture and large shapes. As you work, gradually refine the details of your cliffs and rocks.
Use smaller brushes and a lighter touch to add smaller rocks, cracks, and crevices. Look at your reference photos or sketches for guidance on the details.
Finally, step back and assess your painting. Use a mirror to look at your work in reverse and you can also turn your painting upside down to spot problem areas of your composition. Make any final adjustments.

My Favorite Supplies and Tools

Here is a list of my favorite supplies from this lesson and where you can find them. These are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission. Thank YOU for your support!

Rembrandt Ultramarine Blue Deep, GET IT HERE.

Rembrandt Titanium White, My Favorite White. GET IT HERE.

Grumbacher Cadmium Red Light, this is the Red I use to make my "Air" Mixture. GET IT HERE.

FOR MY ROCKS - Two Important Colors:

Rembrandt Transparent Red Oxide. GET IT HERE.

Rembrandt Raw Sienna. GET IT HERE.

Catalyst Color Shaper. GET IT HERE.

Draw on your canvas with Vine Charcoal and use fixatif to set your drawing.

Grumbacher Vine Charcoal. GET IT HERE.

Krylon Spray Fixatif. GET IT HERE.

Some Great Creative Resources for You!

If you'd like to watch a more detailed video of this scene at Lake Powell that is the painting featured in this week's blog lesson you can view it below. I hope this inspires you and keeps you at the easel. Practice and consistence is the key to developing your skill and learning how to paint rocks and cliffs. 


Linda Glover Gooch
Linda Glover Gooch

I hope you enjoyed this post. Besides being a Professional Painter, my Creative Journey has taken on a life of teaching, inspiring and helping others find their voice, grow and become skillful with their craft. Watching others gain the knowledge through practice and detailed instruction is a great reward. For the Collectors: My goal is to capture their vision, their imagination and take them to a place, a moment in time that touches their heart and soul.

    2 replies to "How To Paint Rocks And Cliffs"

    • Jodi King

      Excellent, as always.

      • Linda Glover Gooch

        Hi Jodi, well… Thank you very much, you are so kind. I’m glad you are finding value in these lessons. I love preparing them, it reminds me of so many things to think about when I’m painting! Okay, my friend… thank you for the sweet note. Now, back to the easel for you! Happy Painting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.