Let’s Paint Goose Lake Prairie!

Remember this photo of Goose Lake Prairie? Let’s paint it.

Here’s an early tip: Get a nice glossy, large reference photo, of real good quality before you try to paint. I only paint from my computer screen when I absolutely have to. My screen is really small and my eyes bug out from that bright screen even if I dim it. Now, my home printer never has color ink because nobody will refill it, so I found a little trick…..upload your photo to www.walgreens.com, pick a nice size (at least 8×10), choose a glossy finish, pick which Walgreens to pick it up from, and pay when you get there….and it’s only 3 bucks! The best thing is, if you’re in the mood to paint they can have it ready in one hour! For some reason, we have a Walgreens on every block…just like McDonalds, so picking up a print is super convenient for me. Now, Walgreens is not paying me a thing to advertise their store, but when I know a helpful trick that works, I like to share it.

The only other thing I would advise is to put your photo in a protective clear sleeve before you start to paint. You’ll be surprised how fast you can damage the photo from a dot of turpenoid or water! I’ve done it plenty of times.

First, we make a nice under painting. I chose to crop the photo which I decided at the last minute. I realized my focal point was the white herons and the black soil, if I painted all those grass blades, the viewer might be distracted and frustrated. Let’s make viewing art pleasurable, real life is distracting enough! Notice I didn’t use a ton of pastels in the first step, actually I could have used less and would have been just fine. A little turpenoid goes a long way.

Next, with a cheap 1″ paint brush, we dip it in some turpenoid and spread the pastel around. Remember we are using Kitty Wallis paper, it allows us to get it wet without falling apart. Nice bold amethyst color anchors our painting. Good beginning.

In the third step, we overlap with more subtle colors. In the sky first, distant trees and grasses next, and then in the water.

Here comes the fun part. Move the surface of the water with your finger! Blend it horizontally from side to side. Don’t cover up all of the bold amethyst color or your painting will feel heavy.

Finally we add our heron friends and an island of grasses. There were four herons that day, but an odd number of objects is always safe to use in artwork, it makes it more interesting. Don’t forget their little white reflections in the water too! Oh yeah…just like your trees should have “sky holes”, don’t forget your grasses should have “water holes”, they need to breath too.

This painting is titled: Prairie Oasis, and is 14×11. This painting is a gift for my mom, who is also a nature lover and it will always remind her of our fun adventures at Goose Lake Prarie!


  1. Lovely photo & painting! Thanks for the info on Walgreens, btw. I’ve recently been thinking about getting some of my digipix printed professionally, but wasn’t sure what the process is like. This sounds pretty darned easy. I’ll have to check it out.
    I’ve also been thinking about getting some watercolor paper, just to play with. I do a lot of thin washes & whatnot w/my acrylics, so it might be fun to experiment. πŸ™‚

  2. The resulting painting is absolutely beautiful and a lovely gift for your Mom. She’s so lucky to have such a gifted artist for a daughter – also a very thoughtful daughter. Enjoyed your post – sorry it took me so long to get here. πŸ™‚

  3. Drowsey: Thanks! The grasses are so much fun to paint…up and down..up and down πŸ™‚

    Doug: Thank you…and isn’t Goose Lake Prairie wonderful!!! I’m going to look up a regal fritillary so I know what you mean! πŸ™‚

    Shelly: Thanks, it was fun to place a little pastel down for their reflection and smear it down for that reflection “look” in the water! So easy!

    Lana: Oh I’m so glad to help! Do play with the watercolor paper…you might be surprised, I get in trouble at art stores….I could just try one of everything and go broke!!! He, he, he.

    April: Thank you! I love my Mom! Don’t ever worry about not stopping by…life is busy so no worries! πŸ™‚

  4. Hi there, just found you through JJ, your domain caught my eye, however, your blog is so unique, and your paintings of nature are amazing. Excellent work, Anna πŸ™‚ PS Nature is wonderful.

  5. What I really like about blog posts is the fact that they trigger a thought in my brain. And once that happens, I feel as I must respond wishing it can be beneficial to some people.comprehensionwhich include I find myself coming back to to your blogging site mainly because you have some really good insightsare actually at this a long time, that is very impressive and tells me you know your stuff.

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