Let’s Paint Twilight Winter Landscape!

This is a picture I took last winter at the Orland Grasslands. I think it was about 4:30, just before dark. Something about this scene caught my eye, maybe it was the openness of the field or that lonely moon looking down.

Winter is wonderfully quiet. Do you ever escape to a place just to be in peace and quiet? I do. Winter, even though cold, offers perfect silence more than any other season. I like to just stand for several minutes and hear nothing. I think silence in itself is a blessing. Many people are afraid of it. I know one person who has to sleep with their television on or they can’t go to sleep. I know another person who cannot sleep without the radio on. Both individuals wish they could sleep in silence, but cannot. To be at peace and comfortable in total silence is a blessing. Anyway, that’s what winter at the Orland Grasslands is like. If you’re quiet enough you may just hear nature whisper to you. So let’s paint this “Twilight Winter Whisper” landscape in pastels using a watercolor underwash.


Step 1: I am using an 11×14 Ampersand Pastelbord. Using a charcoal pencil, draw a light sketch of the landscape. Mask out the moon with watercolor masking fluid. We are going to use watercolors to cover the board. You can use some pastel colors and turpentine to make a wash, but I find that takes too long. Watercolors are quick and cover a lot of ground.


Step 2: Turn your board upside down. We are going to paint the sky first. Starting at the horizon line paint a strip of mauve and rose. In the middle I took more water and a touch of cobalt. Near the edge I painted rose, cobalt and ultramarine blue.


Step 3: When the sky is dry, paint the distant trees with sepia and Payne’s gray. Flick the edges into the sky to represent tree top twigs.


Step 4: Turn the board right-side-up. Paint the field in burnt sienna and the snow in a diluted cobalt blue. We are done with watercolors. Wait until everything is dry or cheat by using a hair dryer. Next up…pastels.


Step 5: Now comes the fun part! I am using Rembrandt Pastels. Take a medium purple and scribble just above the tree line. Do not cover every inch, you will blend with your finger and some of the watercolor color may show through. Next, add just a touch of medium-dark blue just under the rose color. In the middle, scribble some light blue. Using the same medium purple paint on top of the light blue and at the very top paint with the medium-dark blue around the moon.


Step 6: Over the rose color, paint with a light pink that has a peach tone to it. Blend with your fingers in a sweeping motion, just like the wind whipped clouds. This step may make you feel like a kid again, beware. 🙂


Step 7: Using a red-orange pastel, paint the distant field. Take a tan pastel and highlight the very top of the distant grasses. With the lightest purple there is, paint the snow the field. Paint touches of light blue in the snow as well. Blend with your finger.


Step 8: Using a yellow-tan pastel, make grasses sticking out of the snow against the dark patches. For fun, paint some red and purple grasses sparingly. Something really amazing happened at this point….the painting told me it didn’t need any more trees. Remember in our photo on the left hand side there is a group of trees that’s near the foreground? I was planning on painting them in, however at this step I felt the painting just didn’t need it and if I painted them, it might compromise the feeling of the painting.


Step 9 Final: After stepping back and reviewing, I noticed that my sky was way too stark. In this last step, lighted the sky around the moon with the same light blue as the middle of the sky. Blend. Using a light purple, paint the cloud next to the tree tops. Blend. Highlight the snow along the path with a very light pastel (almost white). Done!

Twilight Winter Whisper – Orland Grasslands

If you are interested in an archival print, you may want to view my selection of paintings through Fine Art America. They create prints, canvases, greeting cards and they can also frame if desired. To view this painting click here. To view all paintings available click here.

I am very thankful that God has given me this talent to paint and the ability to share my talents with you. Thank you for your visit to this site!


  1. I’m looking for the painting of stream and
    bare purplish trees posted January 22, 2010.
    Eagerly want to learn color technique but am
    having difficulty finding that picture today.

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