10 Beautiful Oil Paintings That Inspire Me As An Artist

Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun oil painting by Vincent Van Gogh

These beautiful oil paintings are worth a closer look.

A finished work of art is a thing of beauty to behold. I’m deeply inspired by paintings of other artists and recognize that so much goes into planning, preparing, and executing a painting that we never see.

Art is never created in isolation. Artists bring their own experiences, tastes, and emotions into the work they create, as well as the techniques of artists to come before them. These artists and their beautiful oil paintings inspire me to explore ideas my own art and appreciate the myriad of ways in which artists capture beauty in the worlds around them. I hope you enjoy!

Wooded Light by Erin Hanson

Erin Hanson Wooded Light Painting

Hanson’s use of color is simply magical

This painting captures the essence of what is so wonderful about Erin Hanson’s work. It grabs you with beautiful color and bold brush strokes full of movement. Erin remains a big inspiration to my own work and truly inspires me with her mastery of painting in oils.

Roses of Light by Richard Schmid

Roses of Light oil painting by Richard Schmid

Richard Schmid is a master at well-placed brushstrokes

It’s hard to pick a single favorite work out of Schmid’s extensive portfolio. Suffice it to say, this is one of my favorites by one of my favorite painters. Schmid uses ‘economy of effort’ masterfully in his painting by capturing his still lifes, portraits, and landscapes with as few brush strokes as needed to create a scene, similar to how old masters like John Singer Sargent painted. He also has a wonderful book called Alla Prima that every painter should read.

Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun by Vincent Van Gogh

Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun oil painting by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh’s landscape oil paintings are gorgeous

While most people have seen Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night,’ cafe scenes, and self-portraits, the majority of his work consisted of painting outdoor scenery near his home and on his travels. He created in total over 900 (!) paintings over his entire life and around 1,100 drawings and sketches before his unfortunate death. Many of those paintings, like this one, were masterful renditions of the world around him, using light, color, and brushstrokes to capture something that is truly beyond words.

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose oil painting by John Singer Sargent

Sargent really pays attention to overall color unity in this painting

When it comes to masterfully placed brushwork and luminous light that seems to radiate from within, Sargent is unbeatable. His beautiful oil paintings are stunning. For this piece, he painted ‘en plein air’ or directly outdoors for over two months to capture the perfect sensation of purple-tinged light at dusk. Incredible.

Firedance by Hong Leung

Firedance oil painting by Hong Leung

Leung’s oil paintings are full of fire and beauty

Leung’s use of color and movement are beautiful in all his work, especially his scenes of life on Hawaii’s gorgeous islands. This powerful scene of volcanic magma erupting from the earth just glows with color, and is my favorite of his paintings.

Violet by Charmaine Olivia

Violet oil painting by Charmaine Olivia

Olivia was an early inspiration for me

Olivia’s work has evolved and blossomed over the past several years as she has begun to enjoy worldwide recognition. This painting was a part of an earlier collection she created called Muses. Violet is a wonderful example of her creative use of subject and color, with a touch of surrealism and beautiful details to leave you mesmerized. Love!

Yuga by Emma Lindström

Yuga oil painting by Emma Lindstrom

Paint is a hugely versatile medium

Okay so this may not be done in oils, but I had to include it anyway. At first glance, this gorgeous painting looks like it could be aerial photography of a tropical beach. It is, in fact, a mixed media painting that shows the incredible talent of Emma Lindström. For a young contemporary Swedish artist, Lindström has an impressive body of work (this girl seems to paint for many hours every single day), and all her paintings are unique and beautiful in their own way.

To The Front by Elizabeth Thompson

To the Front oil painting by Elizabeth Thompson

Thompson’s art and life history is compelling

Not only is Thompson’s work incredible, her story is memorable as one of the early female pioneers in art. Born in 1846, she not only got accepted as the first female painter into the Royal Academy (a prestigious London arts institution), she chose to paint scenes of war – traditionally an exclusively male-dominated subject in art. Her use of atmospheric perspective, rich earth tones, and unifying composition in all her paintings make her an incredibly talented and inspiring historical artist.

The Ice Floes by Claude Monet

The Ice Floes oil painting by Claude Monet

A lovely scene on the Seine

Monet’s water lilies get all the attention, but his lesser-known impressionist landscapes like this painting of ice in the river Seine capture the essence of colorful Impressionism. His dominant blue colors pop with accents of red-orange where the light hits the bushes and trees. Monet painted the french river many times, but this scene in particular really captures my imagination.

Effloresce by Jeremy Mann

Effloresce oil painting by Jeremy Mann

Mann’s layering and technique is lovely

I’ve admired Mann’s work ever since I discovered his gorgeous figurative paintings. Mann’s use of rich hues and multi-dimensional ‘wet’ technique in his cityscapes, landscapes, and figurative work are the stuff of dreams. I love the luminosity of this painting in particular and the elegant innocence he imbued in this portrait.

More Art

I plan on expanding this list of paintings in the future as there are so many excellent paintings out there. Your turn – which works of art inspire you? Let me know in the comments!



Comments 3

  1. Hello Jessica

    I am a beginner painter and enjoyed your article so much.
    I love the impressionist style.
    Thank you

    1. Post
  2. I bought a framed print from you on a sidewalk in Ashland–“Trek Through Golden Meadow”. It leapt off the wall of your booth into my hands as a masterful example of contemporary impressionist art. I’ve always loved the style and am working to be able to paint in that style now that I’m retired. So thank you for this gallery of your inspirations, and especially thank you for the inspiring example I now have on my wall.

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