Tag Archives: free painting demonstration

Let’s Paint a Birdhouse on Wire Fence Speed Demo VIDEO

Last June I went to Christ in the Wilderness for a 4 day retreat. Every time I visit, I’m rewarded with beautiful solitude, majestic nature, the ability to think and pray. It is like a spiritual renewal or refreshing. God works in mysterious ways and I believe he was speaking to me through nature, almost preparing me for the near future. More of that on a later post.

While I was there in June, I took video of the surroundings and was inspired to paint a picture of a lonely birdhouse on a wire fence that borders the property of CITW. After completing the painting, I was inspired to name it:
“Going Home”

This perhaps is in direct relation to the passing of my dear friend, Alanna. She always said our bodies are vessels and this world is not our home. How true.

Today’s video is in two parts. It is a pastel painting with a watercolor underwash on a white Ampersand Pastelbord. There are a few minutes of beautiful nature in both videos. The first video is a demo of the bulk of the painting and the second video is a demo of highlighting the details. All supplies are listed in the info section on YouTube. Enjoy.

Video 1 of 2 (9 minutes)

Video 2 of 2 (5 minutes)

It was brought to my attention that sometimes the videos do not show up in your email. That’s weird. I do not know why this happens. In any case, if you are reading this post from your email and do not see the videos embedded in your email, visit http://www.letspaintnature.com and view from the web site.

Interested on a print or greeting card of Going Home?
click here
Photography Prints
Thank you


Let’s Paint an Easy Oak Leaf!

Yes, it will be easy. Yes, you CAN do this!
So let’s get started and learn a simple way to paint an oak leaf using watercolors. But first, let me show you my palette so that you have the names of the colors.


The bottom colors are hard to see, they all look dark, but you get the idea. Click for a larger view. I listed the color name and in parenthesis, the brand name. I know I should be using all the same brand names and not mix, but beggars cant be choosers. I buy what I can afford at the time and make it work.


Step 1: Using a regular #2 pencil, draw the outline of the oak leaf on watercolor paper. I am using 140lb cold press watercolor paper.


Step 2: Do not pre-wet the paper. We are working small, so there is no need to lay down water first. Paint Cadmium Orange with a medium round brush, over the entire leaf. While it was still wet, I added more orange to the edges excluding that part of the leaf that flips over like a dog ear. See how the edges of the leaf are darker?


Step 3: In this step we’re going to add different colors to the edge while the leaf is still wet. In the upper left add some Burnt Umber. Watch it spread some. In the upper right hand side add some Indian Red, excluding the part of the leaf turned over. Let dry.


Step 4: On your palette, mix Indian Red and a little bit of Alizarin Crimson to create a rich red/brown. Make sure your leaf is dry. Paint a line on the bottom left edge of the leaf.


Step 5: Wash your brush with clean water, tap on paper towel to get excess water off. Immediately after step 4, only touch the edge of the Indian Red/Alizarin color and pull the color inward with your brush that only has water on it.

Do you see what we did here in step 4 & 5? We painted on the leaf when it was completely dry with color, then we pulled one edge of the color inward with a clean brush that only had water on it. Let’s do it again on the bottom right side…


Step 6: Ok, here we go. Paint the bottom right side of the leaf with a little line of Indian Red and Alizarin.


Step 7: Clean your brush off with water, tap a paper towel to get excess water off, then immediately touch the inner edge of the line and pull it towards the center with your clean brush. You’re doing great!

Notice we didn’t cover the whole entire leaf when we added layers to it. Remember the leaf started a solid orange. Here you can see we went around some bug holes and veins.


Step 8: Let dry. Next using a rigger brush and Sepia, paint in some veins and a few dark spots. Let dry.


Step 9: Here we are going to do the same thing we did in step 4 & 5 and 6 & 7. With Sepia paint a line in the upper left corner. Clean your brush. Touch the inner edge and pull color towards the center.


Step 10: Using Sepia and a little Cobalt Blue, paint the stem, around the bug holes, and under the edge of the leaf that is curled over.


Step 11 FINAL: Watch this leaf POP!!!! We’re bringing it all together now! Like at the end of a symphony every instrument is playing!! Ha ha ha…I get so excited!
Using only Cobalt Blue, paint shadow on the right side only. And you’re done!

See you can do it! Just remember, watercolors are done in layers….lightest color first; Don’t cover the whole entire leaf, but let some orange show through, detail with darkest color at the end. Great work!

As your free autumn gift from me to you, I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step demonstration on how to easily paint an autumn oak leaf using watercolors. Now go out and collect some leaves!

Let’s Paint Evidence of Autumn!

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”
original pastel
no mat, no frame
(includes shipping in US)

Click here to see availability.

Let’s Paint an Eastern Bluebird!

The Eastern Bluebird is a beautiful bird that spends its summers breeding and living in my area before migrating south for the winter. They are not hard to find if you look in meadows and open fields especially if bluebird boxes have been set up there. The Little Red Schoolhouse has a few bluebird boxes in its tiny meadow right before the Black Oak Trail and Spears Woods also has one near the yellow trail. Right now however, the bluebirds have left the area and moved south.
😦 I am missing them already.

So let’s keep a piece of the Eastern Bluebird so that we can cherish it all winter long…

Step 1: Here is my reference photo. It is from the site, Paint My Photo, where artists upload photos and allow you to paint from them, copyright free. This photo was taken by Kathy Detweiler. What a beautiful shot!
This is going to be a pastel painting with a watercolor under painting. I am using a white 5×7 Ampersand Pastelbord. I made a rough sketch with vine charcoal.

Step 2: Holy Hot Tamales! Yes, that’s a bright red, but don’t worry, it will be covered up when we are done. I am using the compliment color red/orange, for a watercolor under wash. When finished I want my sky to be a green/blue color. Why bother doing this when most of it will be covered with pastels? I like this technique because it creates a deeper color, less flat when finished.

Step 3: Paint the branches in watercolor, I used purple. Now for the bird. Paint the bluebird’s back cobalt blue, the mid section burnt sienna, and under his belly a gray color. Let every thing completely dry.

Step 4: We are done using watercolors, when the board is dry, take a dark turquoise green pastel and fill in the sky. I am using Rembrandt pastels.

Step 5: With a lighter turquoise green paint the sky behind the bluebird. For the bluebird’s white belly, take the lightest blue pastel (looks almost white) and paint the belly, also paint under his eye. Where the shadow is on his belly, paint that light purple and blue. These colors should almost look light gray. For the main branch, paint that dark green and for the smaller branches paint those medium purple. Don’t cover the whole board, let a tiny bit of red show through here and there.

Step 6: Using pastels, paint the rust color a dark orange/brown. Layer with lighter orange colors and highlight with a yellow. Paint his back and head with a deep indigo blue pastel.

Step 7: Using the same light blue/gray you used on his belly (shadow), paint the top of his head.  When ever I want to get a really bright highlight or a really dark, dark color, I stop using Rembrant pastels and I switch to Unison pastels. Unisons are not as hard and feel buttery. The softer the pastel the easier it will be to grab onto the board. I took a very light yellow (almost looks pure white) Unison pastel and painted the left side of his belly and on the tail feathers.

If You Leave, I Will Follow - pastel

Step 8 Final: For the sky, take a light blue and paint behind the bird. Next, take a purple pastel and paint the main branch and a light purple and paint the smaller branches. For the bird, it might be easier to use pastel pencils for detail in the face. As long as the face is in detail, nothing else needs to be in focus, because it’s not really important. Take time when painting the eye and don’t forget that white reflection! Paint his leg a dark brown and highlight the top with a lighter red/brown.

“If You Leave, I Will Follow Bluebird”

This painting will be on display at the LaGrange Art Gallery in November. I didn’t know what to title this painting so I asked myself, “What would you be thinking if this bluebird landed in the tree above you?” And I answered myself, “If you leave this tree, little bluebird, and fly to the next one, I will follow you so that I can burnish in my memory your beauty and recall it for years to come.”

I hope you enjoyed this free step by step painting demonstration on how to paint an Eastern Bluebird!

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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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”

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.

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