Looking To Nature To See Ourselves

April 29, 2020

Whenever I’m in nature, be it in my yard or a remote and wild place, I feel uplifted, happy and inspired.
When I paint, I connect with these experiences
so I can share them with others.


I grew up in Patagonia, surrounded by mountains, lakes, and forests. Whenever I’m in nature, be it in my yard or a remote and wild place, I feel uplifted, happy, inspired. When I paint, I connect with these experiences so I can share them with others. Nature has the power to bring us into a space of reflection. For a moment, it allows us to transcend our own daily lives and see life from a wider perspective. It provides a space to heal, to transform, to experience wonder and to be reminded that we are just visitors on this beautiful planet. We have a responsibility to take care of it.

When we look at nature, we perceive three types of colour. There’s the physical, the one produced by light bouncing off the matter, which is what a camera would capture. Then there’s the colour only our minds, full of amazing mechanisms to cope with the play of light and shadows, can perceive. For example, our brain would still “know” a dark shadow on a white paper as white, even though it’s technically a completely different colour. And finally, there’s the metaphysical colour. This is related to emotions and experiences. It is completely subjective to each person and can’t be captured with any camera or device. Through painting however, I can work on all three types. I can create a much richer depiction that not only shows a mountain, but also reveals subtle qualities like cold, warmth, expansiveness, strength, etc.

In my work, I’m drawn to landscape features that have a unique, sculptural quality to them. And I love showing them in an unconventional way – for example, looking at the Tantalus Range’s west face from a plane, instead of from the classic Sea to Sky viewpoint. This allows me to capture the unseen sides of landscapes and share them with everyone. I use a very pure and traditional technique of oils on canvas, applied with brushes and I work almost entirely alla prima (wet-on-wet).


When painting Plein Air, my focus is on quickly capturing a fleeting moment on a small panel. For this, I use a very compact setup consisting of a pochade box, 6 brushes, 6 oil colours, and a pencil. I paint quickly, and I’m more focused on understanding and reproducing the lighting, atmosphere, and colours rather than the minute details. When I’m painting in my studio on a large canvas, the process is more slow, methodical and accurate. A lot of planning and studying goes into each piece even before I lay the first few brushstrokes. Here, I really focus on creating a scene that accurately conveys the experience of being immersed in nature. I call my style Experiential Realism.

The current situation with Covid-19 has temporarily made my work almost exclusively studio-centric, but it has also invited me to share much more online. Through live streams and online workshops, I’m connecting with people from all over the globe on a daily basis, sharing inspiration and being inspired. It has also reinforced my conviction that nature, art, and creativity are all essential components to our human experience on this planet. Everyone can benefit from spending some time with them.

These unprecedented events are definitely presenting us with big challenges but also, an incredible opportunity. It’s a time where every one of us is thinking from a global perspective and taking action as a global family rather than as individuals. It’s a time that shows us how incredibly connected we all actually are, that if a virus can spread in a few weeks to every corner of the world, so can love, inspiration and compassion. It’s a time that invites us to reflect on our lives, what really matters to us, how we want to spend our time and what our relationship to the planet is. And finally, it’s a time that will pass, leaving behind great changes. We have the chance to make these changes an incredible gift for humanity, a chance to make a global shift that will allow us to live more connected, relaxed, content, creative and compassionate lives, caring for each other and our planet.


Explore more of Lucas’ work on his website at lucaskratochwil.com


Sign up for Lucas’ 4-Week Online Landscape Painting Workshop this June to learn his landscape painting techniques in oils! He has designed his online, 4-week workshop, to teach you how to paint realistic landscapes, from the comfort of your home, anywhere in the world!
Lucas will share with you, step by step, the complete process from setting up your studio and getting the right supplies, to completing a landscape painting of your own.