Professional Practice

10 American Landscape Paintings Every Art Teacher Will Want to Dive Into


Travel season is afoot! There’s nothing like summer to fill your conversations and dreams with plans for epic vacations. But did you know you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home or pay a dime to take a trip over summer break? Art, like reading, can transport you to new places. You can discover parts of the world you’ve never seen or look at a spot through a different lens. Here are a few artworks to get you started on your journey.

Take a trip from coast to coast through these landscapes that inspired artists to paint them. The artworks are so inviting, you’ll want to dive right in!

Explore New England and the East Coast!

1. Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, Maine


Jump into Edward Hopper’s Light at Two Lights for a day of reflection and solace by the seashore. Imagine rolling down the hill over the lush, green grass or feeling the cool sea breeze from the top of the lighthouse. It’s not hard to see why lighthouses inspired Hopper or why he would spend an entire summer in 1927 painting Two Lights, the Cape Elizabeth lighthouse featured in this artwork.

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey


Stroll contemplatively across the sand as the sun drops in the sky in Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Sand Dunes at Sunset. Feel the wind whip across your face and the waves roll in and out with the rhythm of your heart. The whole experience of this reverential pre-dusk moment is enhanced by Tanner’s ingenious mixture of sand and paint to give the dunes accurate texture.

3. Hoosick Falls, New York

grandma moses

Let your mind rest after a day of hard work as your eyes rove over the idyllic countryside of Grandma Moses’ We Are Resting. The cows gently moo their contentment, the dinner bells call everyone home, and the chatter of your family and neighbors surround you. The glimpse of the simpler, more innocent time Moses captures in her work serves as a reminder to appreciate the little joys in life.

4. Shinnecock Bay in Long Island, New York

merritt chase

Stroll down to the beach depicted in William Merrit Chase’s At the Seaside to enjoy a day of leisure with your friends and family. The salty sea air sticks to your skin as you listen to the children’s shouts of joy while you dig your toes into the warm sand. As evidenced by the casual, Impressionistic style Chase adopted in this artwork, we can tell he knew how to take a day off!

5. Mount Holyoke in Northampton, Massachusetts


Climb to the top of Mount Holyoke to take in the view of the Connecticut River painted in Thomas Cole’s The Oxbow. The smell of wet earth from the receding thunderstorm fills your nose as the crystalline river sparkles in the distance. More than a beautiful landscape, Cole’s painting is packed with symbolism about America. If you look close enough, you’ll see the artist himself hidden at the center bottom.

Explore the American Southwest and West Coast!

6. Cerro Pedernal in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico


Feast your eyes on the flat-topped red and green wonder rising before you in Georgia O’Keeffe’s My Front Yard, Summer, 1941. The stunning geological structure dwarfs you as you pick your way through scraggly shrubbery and prickly pear cacti. The vast desert right outside O’Keeffe’s front door would entice anyone to capture the otherworldly landscape as much as possible!

7. San Francisco, California


Transport yourself to the center of a bustling city to view the Golden Gate Bridge as Dong Kingman did in Bridge Over River. The loud honk of a boat horn interrupts your thoughts, and the low-hanging clouds promise rain if you don’t find cover soon. Though not your typical sunny portrayal, the moody version of San Francisco captured in Kingman’s masterful watercolor is still worth a visit.

8. Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California


Traipse across the pebbly banks of Yosemite Creek with the thundering Yosemite Falls in the distance of View of Yosemite Valley by Thomas Hill. Wade into the chilly water and test your luck by casting a line in the shadow of imposing rock walls. This artwork and countless other Hill paintings of expansive views emit the unique feeling of existing at one with the remote wilderness.

9. Orilla Verde Recreation Center in Pilar, New Mexico


Roam along a path cut into the otherworldly red desert rock of Kay Walkingstick’s Orilla Verde at the Rio Grande. The sun bears down on you from above and browns your skin while the rushing Rio Grande swirls past. This land has seen centuries go by and people of all colors, shapes, and sizes come and go. Walkingstick radiates the memory of this collected experience from every landscape she paints.

10. Los Angeles, California


Dive into David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash for the summer refresh you long for. The cool water closes over your head, providing instant relief from the relentless heat and muffling every sound. This moment of relief is undoubtedly one of the reasons Hockney and many other LA citizens deem pools a staple of the area. See if you can spot the difference between this painting and its two smaller versions once you dry off.

Enjoy a budget-friendly trip from coast to coast across the United States through landscape art. Spend a day at the seashore with your favorite people like William Merrit Chase did in At the Seaside. Take in the view from the top of Mount Holyoke as you ponder the development of what used to be a wild land. Or wander through the desert, connecting with the land that belongs to everyone and no one. The scenery will inspire you no matter where you choose to “travel” this summer!

Get ready to bring landscapes into your art room after you finish traveling with these resources:

Which landscape will you dive into for inspiration this summer?

What artist are you excited to bring to your art room after summer break?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Mariana VanDerMolen

Mariana VanDerMolen, an elementary art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys teaching for creativity, with a focus on ELL and therapy in a process-based art room.

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