Painting the Fall Landscape

George Inness. Early Autumn, Montclair. 1891 Oil on canvas 30 x 45 in.

George Inness. Early Autumn, Montclair. 1891.

It’s that time of year again.  Days are shorter, the rain is back, and the trees have all gone garish reds and yellows.  I’m not a big fan of Autumn landscapes, but as I still have to paint outside, I  thought I’d try to find some inspirational paintings to help me along. Inness was probably the greatest painter of fall, and by the sheer amount of scenes he did this time of year, it would appear he really enjoyed it.

George Inness. Early Autumn, Montclair. 1888 Oil on canvas 30 x 45 in.

George Inness. Early Autumn, Montclair. 1888.

The problem I have with painting fall scenes is that is very easy to end up looking like a Sierra Club calendar (no offense to the Sierra Club) in the sense that the views can be too beautiful. A story I often tell my students is about the time I watched dolphins jumping in the Pacific at sunset,  a stunning thing to see, and very moving, but under no circumstances would I ever recommend anyone try to make a painting of dolphins jumping at sunset. Some things can be inspiring and beautiful without being remotely picturesque and it is part of the landscape painter’s job to decide which is which.

Here are a couple of Levitans as well:

Isaac Levitan. On the Volga. 1887-88, Oil on canvas

Isaac Levitan. On the Volga. 1887-88.

Isaac Levitan. Golden Autumn, 1895.

Isaac Levitan. Golden Autumn, 1895.

If anyone has more good Autumn landscape paintings to recommend, I’d love to see them.


  1. For contemporary painters, I think you would enjoy Dennis Sheehan, and my friend Curtis W. Hanson’s work. Both are former Ives Gammell students, and Curt has been immersed in the Connecticut landscape for decades.

    I personally get charged by Leon L’hermitte’s pastel plein air sketches done around harvest themes. That counts as Autumn I guess.

    Paint ’til you faint,


  2. Lots of great comments here, thanks. I’m a big fan of Aspevig too, though I have yet to see his paintings in life. He does manage to paint fall scenes without making them too saccharine.

  3. Hi Marc

    I am teaching oil painting in Singapore. I am also a member of community Art & Culture Committee known as CACC in my country. I am incharge neighbourhood art gallery which open 24 hrs. I have series of programme for my gallery. The coming one will be exhibition of autumn oil paintings done by my students. I would like to share with you some of my students autumn oil paintings

    Low Tho Seng

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