Let’s Paint Trees at Dusk!

You are going to like this step-by-step pastel demonstration of how to paint trees at dusk! This may be a little advanced, but don’t worry, with a little practice you’ll be able to handle this, no problem.

201010904_dusk1

Here is my set up and reference photo. I took the photo at Goose Lake Prairie about 2 years ago. The sky is over exaggerated with the help of Photoshop, it really wasn’t that pink. That’s okay, I love a dramatic landscape. I am using an Ampersand Pastelbord as my canvas. We will start with a watercolor underwash and finish it off with pastel paints.

201010904_dusk2

Step 1: On your Ampersand Pastelbord, make a light sketch with vine charcoal. My board is 11×14.

201010904_dusk2b

Step 2: Turn the board upside down.We are going to start with the sky. We need to turn it upside down because gravity will cause the watercolor paints to drip and we do not want any pink in the field. Spray the sky with clean water using a small misting bottle. Using rose watercolor paint, start at the horizon line and work your way down. Wait a few minutes to settle in and create a blue-green watercolor mixture using french ultramarine blue and sap green. Take a round brush and dot the horizon line. Be carefull because watercolors on Ampersand Pastelbord tend to move quickly! Don’t over paint, just dot, dot, dot. Because our board is upside down, you will  start to see lovely trees practically create themselves. Sit back and take a moment to see what your paints are doing for you, it’s so much fun.

201010904_dusk3

Step 3: Because watercolors dry so light, especially on the board, I made another layer of trees and added a purple color to the sky. Wait until this dries completely or if you are impatient like me, dry it with a hair dryer.

201010904_dusk4

Step 4: Now we are going to start on the grasses in the distance. I made a mixture of sap green, payne’s gray, and ultramarine blue. The lightest color is yellow ochre. You only need a little paint as these colors will move around.

201010904_dusk4b

Here is a close-up of the background. Holy cow I love what it’s doing!!! Those lines were not purposely added but just happened on its own…yessss! Sometimes your paints will surprise you.

201010904_dusk5

Step 5: Hold a piece of paper over the sky and lightly spray the bottom half of the board with clean water. Wait a second and paint the water with your sky color using a wide flat brush.

201010904_dusk6

Step 6: When the water is almost dry, using payne’s gray and your purple mixture, paint the foreground grasses.

201010904_dusk7

Step 7: Using the same color, paint the trees and their reflections. Most of this will be covered with pastels so don’t worry about the color. Just make sure to leave “sky holes” in your tree tops. We are done with watercolors, you can put them away now.

201010904_dusk8

Step 8: After everything is dry, we will start painting with pastels. When people ask me how do I know which colors to use, I say, “I don’t know?” The one thing I do know however, is that I want to limit my colors so that my painting flows and does not look too crazy. I am mainly going to stick with pink, green, blue, and purple. Every once in a while I will stick a hot crazy color in there to create excitement…but not too much. Because the light is coming from behind the trees, I stared with a little bit of orange pastel on the edges of the trees and sky holes. Next I filled the trees in with a light purple pastel. This too will be mostly covered so I don’t care what it looks like right now. I can’t tell you how many times when painting, that I was almost in tears before I was even half way done. Your painting never looks the same when it’s finished, just wait and see it through.

201010904_dusk9

Step 9: Layer the tree with the darkest blue pastel you have (Unisons are great for darks) and then a medium sap green color on top. Don’t forget to leave some sky holes open.

201010904_dusk10

Step 10: Fill in the distant grasses with  medium and light green pastel. I won’t cover the whole canvas, but I will make sure to let some under painting show through. Using a dark green pastel, paint the reflection of the trees in the water.

201010904_dusk11

Step 11: Oops, I realized my tree reflections were way too long. No worries, just take some pink pastel and cover up some of the tree reflection in the water. Pastels are way more forgiving than watercolors. I also added some light purple pastel in the water and drew in some foreground grasses with dark blue and dark purple pastel.

201010904_dusk12

Step 12: Using the side of a light pink pastel, lightly go over the tree reflection in the water in an up then down pattern. Don’t press too hard, we don’t want to cover the reflection completely, just make the appearance of water. Using a medium green pastel, make some blades of grass in the front.

201010904_dusk13_final

Step 13 Final: With a light gray pastel pencil, draw horizontal water lines through the tree reflections. Lastly, with a yellow pastel pencil make highlights on the grasses in the front for some POP!

“We Enter Night Together”
11×14
pastel

When I name a painting, I want to express a feeling. I want the viewer to come to his or her own conclusions when viewing, but I want to help them experience what I was feeling when out in nature. To know there’s something bigger than myself out there gives me great comfort. To know that I am never alone gives me even more comfort. I named this painting, “We Enter Night Together”, because the two trees stand side by side through everything. Maybe you are going through some rough times in your life and do not have many friends nor family that can go through it with you. 

Take comfort, you are never alone. 

“And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”   Deu 31:8

When I saw those trees, that scripture came to mind. Great comfort.

I hope you enjoyed this step by step pastel demonstration on how to paint trees at dusk. To purchase the original click here, it will take you to the available original pastel page.

To purchase a print:

Sell Art Online

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Let’s Paint Trees at Dusk!

  1. As always, you make it look so easy! Personally I hate titling artwork, so I tend to go with something obvious & generic (except in the case of abstracts, when I’ll usually use the 1st thing that pops into my head, thus “K12,” “421,” etc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s