Tag Archives: sunset

Speed Demo Video Spring Sunset Soft Pastel

It’s been a long time since you’ve seen a video, huh?!? Yeah, I’m slacking! Well, no more! Time to get to work. And more to come….I promise.

Normally, I like to perform a step by step painting demo right in nature. It is so much more pleasant than an indoor studio, however I saw this magnificent breathtaking sunset as I was driving to Springfield, IL, two weeks ago and I only had time to click a quick picture. So this demo is done from a photo.

Here is the photo:
Spring Sunset

Here is a photo of the final painting:

Unfortunately the video has poor lighting, so the final (which was scanned in) looks much more vibrant. I am using new software so quality will improve with use.

I hope you are keeping up with your art. I hope you are playing and practicing. I hope you are taking time for yourself in this area. Life can be overwhelming most of the time, especially if you have a full time job and a family. You have to fight for your time. Fight for it. It will keep you healthy.

Here is a link for archival prints if interested:
Art Prints


Tender Devotion Watercolor – Winter Tree


The light changes
and you catch yourself holding your breath.

A fiery glow in the horizon…enthralling.

Its ending presentation
a hot display
turns into a mauve hush.

Oh quickly went the dusk
that took my tender devotion;
Can we meet again tomorrow?

Over the weekend my intent was to be in the woods. As the day progressed other needs won my attention, not willingly though. As the hours passed, at one point I should have just jumped in the car and left but I couldn’t for the life of me. I don’t know why. I sometimes get like that. It’s like I was stuck. Discouraged, I said a prayer.

Just then as I looked out my window and the most beautiful winter sunset was a glow behind some trees.

God brought the nature to me. And I really needed that. This painting was done from my living room. God is good. His love endures forever!

If you would like a print or greeting card of Tender Devotion click here.

Two Headed Pine Tree Sketch – Swallow Cliff


2-headed pine at swallow cliff south - watercolor

That evening light, the glow of the setting sun, it is so wonderful that it makes anything in its path illuminate with a gentle warm radiance.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.”
Ps 84:11

What are good things? I think the good things I sometimes overlook. Family, food on my plate, a roof over my head, the setting sun, gentle breezes, birds visiting my feeder, rain to water the earth, friendship…those are some great things of which I am thankful for. I am also thankful for the subtle things in nature…

This “two-headed” pine tree is at the end of the main parking lot next to the picnic shelter at Swallow Cliff South. It is my Mom’s favorite. When we stopped for a visit a few days ago, the sun awakened each pine bough with luminous needles.
How magnificent! 

This watercolor and ink sketch took about 30 minutes to complete and was given as a gift to my Mom.

Arrowhead Lake Sunset Sketch


Arrowhead Lake Sunset watercolor sketch

A reprieve from winter, a welcomed mild day…how lovely!

Yesterday I made a quick stop at Arrowhead Lake. The sun, enveloped in a slight haze and in the company of dark blue clouds, sets behind the trees, giving me a peek-a-boo yellow surprise in between branches.

What do I hear? Unexpectedly, I hear the first chorus frog of the year! Wow! I just can’t control myself and I break out into a little happy dance right on the trail. It is justified.


Here is the photo, my quick sketch was done at home.


Along the trail, brilliant green moss grows outside of some drainage pipes. I love moss. It is nice to see some bright green color in the middle of drab winter blues and grays.


Here is an interesting composition of moss, grass head, and rocks. When you find something interesting while hiking, take the time to look closely. Inspect each inch, you may just surprise yourself.

I hope you enjoyed this quick stop at Arrowhead Lake. Remember when hiking, to always bring drinking water, even in the winter time. Check out this line of Camelbak Water Bottles, very convenient for staying hydrated.

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.

To purchase a print:

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