High Altitude
International Artist|August - September 2021
Sarah Mckendry demonstrates how to create depth, atmosphere and mood in her landscape paintings
Sarah Mckendry

Such Great Heights, oil on canvas, 24 x 44 (60 x 111 cm)

Capturing the magnificent splendor of mountain ranges as they greet the soft morning light has become a deep passion of mine.

I am deeply drawn to the dramatic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, and capturing the ethereal beauty of that moody scenery has become a deep passion of mine. I could get lost for hours watching the mist roll across the mountainsides while trying to understand the shapes, movement, and subtle intricacies of the everchanging landscape in front of me. When you really take pause and begin deconstructing the natural world around you, it is incredible to see how interwoven every little thing is with one another. Often we don’t give ourselves the time to truly connect with what it is that we are hoping to paint to life, and rushing that process is when that extra little bit of magic gets lost within your brushstrokes.

I began my creative journey 12 years ago and I have been teaching myself the exciting yet challenging world of self-expression ever since. I am a mother to two young boys, and while they sleep every night I can be found sitting in front of my easel lost in the tranquil bliss of translating the world around me into brushstrokes on canvas. Having no formal training, this path that I have taken has involved some incredibly steep learning curves, but one of the most wonderful aspects of being completely self-taught is that there are no external forces telling me which direction I should or not should not go with my work. Every step that I have taken has come from a place that felt right within my soul, and I truly believe that this freedom to explore has been the greatest gift that I could have given myself as an artist.

I found the courage to dive into oil painting seven years ago after only having worked with acrylics up until that point. I had reached an area of frustration with acrylics because I wanted to be able to play around with the movement within my landscapes much longer than what their drying time allowed. I felt limited in my ability to grow further within my craft, and so began the painfully slow task of understanding and getting comfortable with an entirely new medium. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the switch over to oil paint was the absolute best thing that I could have done for my art. My landscapes began taking on whole new levels of depth and movement, and the ability to push and pull the different layers into one another without the constraint of drying time looming overhead was such a liberating feeling.

Oil painting has become an extension of my very being, and so too has the need to capture the peaceful and serene moments that I have witnessed while out exploring the world with my family. I have always been drawn to colors that soothe the soul and scenery that forces you to stop for a moment and truly appreciate the simple splendor that it holds within it. I have worked hard to simplify my techniques in order to achieve these feelings of stillness, and over the past year, I have found immense joy in being able to share everything that I have learned with art students from all over the world. I believe that my journey can help so many others get started on their own path, so I have been creating tutorials in hopes that they might inspire others to begin chasing their creative dreams into reality.

My most requested tutorials are for my signature misty forest paintings, so I thought that I would create a special demonstration just for this publication. I tend to create these scenes solely from my imagination so although there is not a photograph to work from, you can use the finished painting as your point of reference. I also keep my supply list as simple as possible and try to only use between four and six colors for each piece. A huge worry amongst many of my students was that the cost of getting started with oil painting would be far too great, so I have made it my mission to create classes that keep the costs to a bare minimum while still enabling everyone to create beautiful realistic works of art.

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