Determine value and composition

I chose this photo because of my love for trees...especially Eucalyptus trees. The train rail was an added bonus making an interesting subject. The rail leads the eye into the painting.

The foreground is very dark and does not show much difference in value. I will change this and bring more color and value into the foreground. I especially like the warm tones of sunlight falling on the trees.

Great Tip: When you observe a landscape scene, break the scene up into major shapes of different values. One way to do this is to squint your eyes allowing the shapes to blur. Blurring will eliminate all details helping your to see and focus on the shapes.

Move your mouse over the image to see how a blurred image can reveal the major shapes.

Pastel Painting Tutorial

Creating Guidelines

Art Spectrum Colourfix paper will the the choice of surface I will work on. I chose a rose-gray colored paper. Art Spectrum's paper are sanded and allows you to add multiple layers of pastel.

Draw in the guidelines with a light pastel stick. Try to accurately place the lines but don't worry about too much detail. Only plot out the major shapes. Look at the shapes in it's entirety in relationship to each other. Start by making markers on the side of the paper to show where one section starts or ends.

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Shapes and Value

The first stage would be to block in the major shapes. Focus on getting the values correct by determining the key values. That is the darkest and the lightest parts of the painting. Determining the key values first will help you with the "in-between" values.

The left side of the painting will have more shadows...probably because of trees casting the shadows. It will therefore be cooler in color tones. The right side has more sunlight and will be warmer in tone.

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Building the shapes

I continued to block in more areas and introduce color to various sections. Notice the blue on the shadow side(left) and the warmer colors to the right of the train track.

The initial layer in the sky is an earthy pink color. I chose this as a base foundation to create a warm undertone for the lighter blue that will eventually cover the entire sky. In the final painting little bits of warm pink can be detected in the blue.

Adding greens of different value to the trees helped with building the overall shape of each tree.

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Adding Color

An important stage now is to add color and bring in more detail. Once the sky is done, more work can be done on the trees. The tree trunks were created with warm colors of burnt sienna and a warm pale yellow.

I always make the base of my trees dark. This helps to establish the tree and make it part of the landscape...or any shadows underneath the tree. It is a good practice to connect shapes to create a uniform feel in your painting.

More cooler values of cool green and purple were added to the left side and warmer tones of ochre's and sienna's on the right side.

The main tree on the left was also created with dark greens. Notice the red sienna in the tree also appears in the landscape.

Paint the tree by observing the overall shape and then breaking it down into smaller shapes. Do not paint single branches and then add individual leaves. Leaves and branches are grouped together and creates a mass of values that is seen as one shape. This is very important.

Adding more Color and Detail

Let's discuss individual sections of the painting. Move your mouse over the painting to reveal the sections.

1. The lighter detail of the bushes are placed on top of the darker under tones. Pay attention to how the color tones are being repeated throughout the left section. I use the edge of a pastel stick to stipple in the details.

2. Green values that pull your eyes toward the light in the distance.

3. This area has the darkest value in the painting. In landscapes, the darker values are usually towards the bottom of the painting. The part closest to the viewer.

4. More green values give dimension to the trees. The lighter values are concentrated towards the light this case the left side of the tree.

5. This section shows another tree behind our main tree. More sun light falls on this tree and the value is therefor lighter. The color tone is also warmer.

6. The large tree mainly consists of a dark green value. Add "sky holes" to the dark shape with a sky color that is slightly darker than the actual color you used for the sky. The sky holes can also be pushed back by suggesting a branch or some leaves. Add these suggestions to the sky holes.

This will push the blue sky hole back so that it seems to be part of the sky...and not an object that is part of the tree.

7. Shadows are cool and here I used mainly dark blue tones to paint in the shadow of the main tree. This also divides the landscape into sections and helps to create the illusion of depth.

8. Lighter and cooler bushes in the far distance. Objects that recedes will become cooler in color tone. It also gets lighter in value. Light violets or purples are great colors to use in a landscape scene.

9. The tree trunks on the far right are similar in color tone. However..the application is softer. Objects that recede therefore tends to become softer in appearance with softer edges.

Pastel Painting Tutorial

Final changes

Some minor changes where done. More red was added to the right side of the landscape to break some of the green tones. I also softened the edges of the trees to make it blend in with the sky. This brings the trees more in unison with the landscape.

Pastels that I used:

- Unison (sky, reds, deep blue)

- Great American (purples, dark greens, other darks)

- Sennelier (mid tone greens)

- Mount Vision (lighter warm tones)

- Rembrandt (tree trunks)


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