Art Styles 101: Contemporary Landscape Painting

Autumn landscape painting of a creek, Beyond the Turning by Alexander Volkov

From the ethereal impressionism of Claude Monet’s water lilies to the “happy little forest” scenes of Bob Ross, landscape painting has taken many forms over the course of history. Today, contemporary landscape painting continues to astonish and inspire, and we’d like to share with you more about this versatile art style.

At Marcus Ashley Gallery, we represent a wide variety of contemporary landscape artists and have curated gorgeous landscape oil paintings for sale for your collection. If you’re interested in this art style, we encourage you to peruse our online gallery or visit us in person in South Lake Tahoe.

The Evolution of Landscape Painting in Recent Centuries

A historical context is always important to understand what differentiates contemporary landscape paintings from the art of the past. From the (Western) genre’s origins in the 1500s, landscape painting has seen several fascinating cultural evolutions. 

Painting was not always accessible for all social classes; the tools, materials, and training required to master the art was usually possible only with a wealthy patron. It was the wealthy, then, that commissioned skilled artists to paint landscapes, and it was typically their whims and desires that guided the artist’s hands.

Commissioning landscape paintings became enormously popular amongst the upper classes in Western culture in the 18th century. The famous Victorian art critic John Ruskin once declared landscape painting as the “chief artistic creation of the nineteenth century,” associating the appreciation of nature with spirituality. He said people are “apt to assume that the appreciation of natural beauty and the painting of landscape is a normal and enduring part of our spiritual activity.”

This mindset gave way to 19th and 20th century Romanticism, which sought to escape the harsh industrialization of the world and envision a purer, fantastical world that fulfilled the longings of the spirit. Landscapes of that era often embodied this concept, adding a mystical and fanciful touch to the realism of prior decades. 

Today, environmental issues such as climate change make the genre even more essential and profound. Contemporary landscape paintings express the beauty of the threatened earth humanity is challenged to preserve, while showing the same evocative appreciation for nature as their predecessors did hundreds of years ago.

Let’s explore some of our own artists represented at Marcus Ashley Gallery who explore the natural world through their work.

Landscape painting of a church nestled in green hills entitled Bells of the Abbey, by Charles Pabst.

Charles Pabst

Charles Pabst’s passion for the American Southwest is made clear in his breathtaking panoramas. As one of the country’s best-known contemporary landscape artists, he has received many awards and well-deserved international renown.

His use of warm lighting and soft impressionist brushstrokes evokes the peace and majesty of the outdoors. He often focuses on the unique landforms in the West, and excels in creating the sense of awe and wonder of ancient canyons and dramatic cliffs.

Pabst is fascinated by the history of the “wild west,” and some of his scenes depict western migration of American settlers and the scenery they encountered along their adventure. Pabst’s contemporary landscape paintings are excellent depictions of western Americana.

Landscape painting of a sunset over an ocean entitled New Day, by Alexander Volkov.

Alexander Volkov

Alexander Volkov’s contemporary landscape paintings feature a dazzling, mysterious interplay of light. His mastery of color allows him to create scenes that seem realistic at first glance, but slowly draw you in to a fantastical environment. Volkov once stated, “There is no greater mystery to me than the conflict of light and darkness. In the way they clash and penetrate each other, there is the source of everything.” 

Volkov’s landscapes remove the distractions and stresses of modern life. They present a natural America, free of cities and distraction. Whether he paints a soft sunset over the ocean or a still winter forest, he gives you the sense of peace and solitude that only nature can provide. In his paintings, nature triumphs over man, and every piece has a timeless quality.

Landscape painting of mountains and wildflowers entitled Blooming In Nature, by Mario Jung

Mario Jung

Mario Jung is a contemporary landscape artist from Korea with a powerful story. He miraculously recovered from an accident that left him blind, deaf, and paralyzed, and has poured his inspiration and passion for life into his contemporary landscape paintings ever since.

Jung does not commit to the free-flowing randomness of nature. His paintings often mix elements of realism with clean, geometric shapes and layers of texture that create a captivating scene that draws you in and forces you to reconsider your reality.

Landscape painting of a Venice canal entitled Beautiful Venice, by Michael Flohr

Michael Flohr believes that contemporary landscape paintings don’t have to have meaning — their beauty can simply be enjoyed. Flohr excels in capturing the beauty of cityscapes and rainswept streets, and is a master of avant garde and abstract expressionist techniques. 

Flohr is a contemporary landscape artist whose work is highly inspired by the bright colors and techniques of Cezanne. He paints with pure pigments and creates a dazzling mosaic effect, adding a modern twist to classic environments.

Artfully cracked landscape painting of mountains and wildflowers entitled Our Candy Land Corner by Rolinda Stotts.

Rolinda Stotts

Rolinda Stotts is inspired primarily by her rural upbringing and the simplified view of the world as viewed through the eyes of her children. Her oil paintings undergo a phenomenal transformation when she literally breaks them in her own two hands, cracking the thin layers and creating organic texture.

Stotts’ contemporary landscape paintings break the mold and stun viewers with their straightforward beauty. The tactile nature of her works draws viewers in and adds incredible visual interest, making her a unique contemporary landscape artist.

Browse Landscape Art and More at Marcus Ashley Gallery

Marcus Ashley Gallery’s passionate curators and art consultants are proud to represent the artists discussed above. If you’re interested in purchasing contemporary landscape paintings for your personal collection, we have many landscape oil paintings for sale, including but not limited to the artists discussed here.

Visit us at our spacious South Lake Tahoe gallery or on our website. Check out our upcoming events with artists to meet many of these painters in person, as well!