Live Lessons: "Birch Trees" with Pastels

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This lesson series features:
7 Hours of Instruction
7 Videos

About This Lesson Series...

In this lesson series, we create a landscape that features birch trees and fall leaves with soft pastels on pastel paper.

Lesson 1 (1:10:52)

In lesson one, we discuss the materials and begin layering in darker tones and shadows.

Lesson 2 (1:11:04)

In lesson two, we begin refining the trees behind the main birch trees.

Lesson 3 (1:12:08)

In lesson three, we enhance the contrast and push color relationships to create depth on the left side of the picture plane. We also begin laying in tree branches with pastel pencils.

Lesson 4 (1:07:51)

In lesson four, we begin work on the trees on the right side of the picture plane.

Lesson 5 (1:02:44)

In lesson five, we complete the trees on the right side of the picture and add the overlapping branches and leaves.

Lesson 6 (1:07:53)

In lesson six, we redirect the path and address the grass and plants around it.

Lesson 7 (1:03:49)

In lesson seven, we complete the pastel painting and with the time remaining - we play a fun creativity boosting drawing game.

Birch tree landscape painting with pastels

Resources for this Lesson...

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Photo Reference

Finished Result

Here's what you'll need...

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Lesson Discussion

  1. Watching lesson #1 after the fact (on 11 Nov 21), as to not blowing on pastel drawing, for nearly any work that I do, I tape the paper (whatever it is) to Gatorboard. It is light and very easy to pick up and tap gently on the edge of trash can so the powder falls into can. Gatorboard comes in many sizes and can be gotten from Blicks or Cheap joes or probably Amazon. I have several sizes for any size paper. They last for years. I have even stapled watercolor paper to it and then reused the Gatorboard afterward. It is wonderful stuff and I won’t work without it. I get no money for saying so either. 🙂

  2. Hello Matt: would you talk about how you are able to make fine lines with oil pastel. I don’t see you sharpening the sticks and I am working with all rounded edges .I have no control over the marks I’m putting down.
    I am part way thru the oil pastel course and loving it. Especiall enjoyed the color scheme examples set against the paintings.
    Thanks tom

    • thank you, Matt, for answering my question at about 10 min: into lesson 7.
      i am amazed at this painting as well as the past oil pastel works that have been on “Live Lessons.”
      I keep looking down that path to see what is there.
      Looking forward to the Photoshop lessons, I have an old Elements package so I’m sure I’ll be able to follow along.
      Happy Holiday to all the folks in this community tom

  3. Matt, I’ve seen you work through many, many courses and enjoyed all of them without exception. Maybe it is just that my natural love is for soft pastel but this lesson from start to finish feels like I have watched a real master of this media. This particular painting is absolutely a favorite and thank you so much for letting us see this process!

  4. Hi Matt, I am a new member and I love your teaching methods ; very detailed and easy to follow. I learned a lot through this live lesson and thank you! I was really excited to see the reference photo as I really wanted to learn how to express the happy sunshine playful on the leaves, the trees , the ground …I liked your final image in a different way with different feelings: you created the forest on a rather cloudy day , a little bit sad, calm and peaceful …and it’s also a beauty! Would you teach us how to achieve the sun rays through sceneries? Thank you!

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