Look around you…this time of year you can see evidence of autumn. Look at the very tips of the trees near the top. Do you see it?
Yes, just a hint of autumn. My favorite time of year.
Well, I’m not going to waste any time. Every day from now until the end of November I will savor, because I know it won’t last. This precious time will go blazing fast…so let’s preserve this moment in time by painting “Evidence of Autumn”, using soft pastels…..
Step 1: Make a rough sketch using a charcoal pencil. This is a 7×5 Ampersand Pastelbord. Do this step fast and don’t worry about detail. Most of this will be covered my paints anyway, I just do it for a road map to where I’m going next.
Step 2: For the underpainting, we will use watercolors, it’s quick and it spreads. The blue sky is indigo blue at the top and cerulean blue near the horizon.
Step 3: Mix some alizarin with your indigo and paint some boughs on your tree. While you’re at it, paint the distant trees in the horizon.
Step 4: Fill in the tree with some sap green. Fill in the field with yellow ochre, burnt umber, and indigo blue. Be carefull because the watercolor wants to spread like crazy on the Ampersand Pastelbord. Use little water and more pigment. It will dry light.
Step 5: Using cobalt blue watercolor, drop in some color in the distant trees and a touch in the shadow of our main attraction, the autumn tree. This will be the last time we use watercolors. Our underpainting is done. Let dry completely.
Step 6: Now the fun begins! When your underpainting is completely dry, grab a dark blue pastel and scribble in the sky near the top of the painting. With a medium blue, scribble in the horizon sky. With your finger, blend the two.
Step 7: On the sky, scribble some light blue pastel. Go ahead, go crazy. It feels good, don’t hold back. Blend with your finger.
Step 8: Using an electric blue pastel, paint the shadow areas of the tree. Add some light purple on the ends.
Step 9: Take a dark sap green pastel and paint sections of the tree. I like to use nice up and down strokes. Use what ever feels comfortable to you. This is your style.
Step 10: Take a dark blue pastel and paint in the trunk. Blend with your fingers. For the distant trees, paint them with a light and dark purple pastel.
Step 11: Now we dazzle! Highlight the tree with a lighter green. Keep in mind which direction the light is hitting: left to right.
Step 12: Did you ever want to kiss a tree with autumn colors? Well, now is your chance! Fly up there and touch the ends with orange and yellow. This is living!!!
Step 13 Final: Add the sun! The brightest colors go last. Use the lightest orange you have to highlight a few leaves. Use the lightest yellow you have to highlight a few leaves over the green. As in, “a few leaves”, I mean: dot, dot, dot.
In the field paint some goldenrod by painting some yellow touches here and there. You’re finished! Now that wasn’t too hard was it?
I hope you enjoyed this free step-by-step pastel demonstration. I know when I am painting, I feel more alive than I do any other time of my life. It is soul nourishing. I can’t live without it. I hope I can help you feel that way too.
“Evidence of Autumn”
no mat, no frame
(includes shipping in US)