Let’s Paint Orland Grassland Prairie!

Oh Boy! Let’s paint that sunset we saw at the Orland Grasslands a few days ago! Here we go:

Here is my easel set up. I have my photo attached to the easel so it is easy to view as I am painting and I do not have to hold it. Today I am using a new product: a tan colored pastel panel by Ampersand Pastelbord. How much fun it is to use a new art toy/supply! Why do I like the panel? Because I like to paint my foundation before I apply soft pastels and I know this panel will never, never warp, plus I do not need a mat when it is time to frame this painting. All I need is a few plastic spacers underneath my glass to separate the painting from the glass. Step 1: With a piece of charcoal vine, sketch in a rough draft of the landscape.

Step 2: With soft pastels, lay in some basic color. Don’t worry about exact colors or exact subject positions, have fun scribbling like a little kid.

Step 3: With Turpenoid (see my bottle?) and a brush, go over the pastel and move everything around….touching each color to the next. Let this dry completely, be patient. Notice how the sky is beginning to glow, ooooh we want that, we like that!

Step 4: When dry, start layering the beautiful sky with light gray, light blue, light peach, darker peach, purple, and finally yellow where the sun is peaking through. Follow the cloud pattern in the picture, you can almost see where the wind is shaping them as we speak. Add a medium blue for the snow in the front.

Step 5: In this step I added a non-saturated dark brown for the distant grasses and a dark blue for tiny distant trees. Variate some lighter blue colors for the snow. The lightest color for the top of the snow and darker blue for holes or divots.

Step 6: This is the fun part! Make a million grasses using the side of your pastel stick and different brown colors. Then place dots in a few places to represent a bloom or weed head. Keep in mind where you want to place your trail and stay clear of it. Do not place grasses on your trail, this is where you and I walk and there are no grasses or weeds there!

Step 7: This is a close up of the right hand corner. Time to make trees and twigs. Notice the twigs are not all blue in color but are highlighted with the setting sun. Add warm red twigs and a few light blue ones too. I love this picture!!!

Step 8 Final: Hot Dog!!! It is everything I remembered from my time at the Orland Grasslands during the most beautiful sunset in the wintertime!
While standing here I felt the cold wind press against my face. I felt the wind whip around my body behind me. I heard some birds in the distance which I did not recognize. The snow beneath my feet was soft and melting but the ground was not muddy. Oh how I wish I could stay in this spot all during the night, I wonder what wildlife I would encounter!

My son told me to name this painting “Ring of Fire” because of the sun pattern through the clouds. He thought that was very cool. So it shall be.

Ring of Fire, Orland Grasslands, 14×11 Pastel

I hope you enjoyed this pastel step by step painting demonstration.


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