Pastel Landscape Mastery: Structure and Atmospheric Perspective

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Lesson Description

A look at the basic structure of landscape drawing including background, middle ground, and foreground. Atmospheric perspective is also addressed in this video.

Lesson Materials

Toned pastel paper, soft pastels, NuPastels, pastel pencils, blending stump.

Lesson Resources

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Lesson Discussion

  1. I enjoyed this lesson. By repeating the reason for colour changes etc, you were able to really get the message across about aerial perspective. I knew that colours faded in the distance, but your tips about using ‘cooler’ colours there, and ‘warmer’ colours in the foreground really opened my eyes to what has been lacking in my drawings. Thank you.

  2. as a new pastel painter? i am try not to rush and this video help calm me down to a slower pace.
    At first I didn’t even know what Value meant. as i listened I came to the conclusion that it means more or less pigment. Correct?

  3. I love how you brought the mountains in the background into a middle ground of a valley of easy rolling hills. It looks like a place I would like to be. You make it look easy 😉

  4. What are the best pastel pencils and pastel sticks for a professional to purchase? Also I have acid free mat boards , would these be suitable for oil pastels? Best pencil sharpener? And ways to sharpen the pastel. One more question when you use a blending stick do you clean it off as you switch colours or do you go through a lot of blending sticks. How do you clean the sticks off?
    I love that you teach clearly and slowly, also that the music was quieter in this lesson. I could concentrate a lot better on what you were saying . Thanks Matt

  5. Hi Matt,

    I want to start with the pastel course, but I cannot get hold of NuPastel. Will it make a difference? If so, what can I use in it’s place?


  6. lots of wonderful information, short and concise, i am new to pastels have heard they are very dirty, do you have info on how to setup to catch the dirt my studio is in my walk in closet more art than clothes. also would it be possible to show the photo for the painting or but in box in corner somewhere as reference point?

  7. This is my first attemt at a pastel painting. I have oil pastels and they don’t seem to blend like your lesson. I also did it on white paper.
    I would send you a phot, it not sure how to yet.
    I think I do need a blending stump and I will buy more supplies tomorrow. I think I will purchase a set of regular pastels also.

  8. I have never even held a soft pastel before & this was much harder than I anticipated. I used Faber pastels & my drawing seems way too bright. I should have paid more attention to that as the painting developed. PanPastels seem much cleaner & easier. The applicators may get dirty but at least my hands aren’t. 🙂 On to the next lesson! Thanks.

  9. Hi Matt!
    This landscape video lesson two answered so many of my questions….particularly where to start! The concept of atmospheric perspective was really demonstrated well here… and defining the choice of softer colors and lighter shades, and the blending in of a thin white layer really was a eye opener for me!

    I’ll be outside panting on Tuesday and will practice this concept beforehand… Thanks! MJ

  10. I have been watching several people do pastel painting on youtube, but your lessons are so worth the money, you give so much more information on why you do things and how, so that I am understanding rather than just mimicking others. Thank you so much. You are an awesome instructor.

  11. Hi Mat

    I enjoyed your lesson very much . I love to learn painting and I struggled with materials and basic technique. Your course fit me perfectly. I did not find difficult to understand even though I am just a beginner. I appreciate your passion in teaching. Your lesson inspired me be more confident to learn painting . Regards


    • Hi Kanwal,

      You may choose to use a color of paper that is warmer to contrast cool tones that are added with pastels or to harmonize with warm colors. The opposite of this is true as well with cooler papers. You may choose a cooler paper to contrast warm colors that are added with pastels or to harmonize with cool colors. In some cases, the paper will be covered completely and the tone of the paper is just to help the artist judge contrast of value and color.

  12. Hello and thank you for all those explanations. The process and intention is really clear. Could you tell me how you decide to use NuPastel or Soft Pastel please ? Thank you !

  13. Hi Matt, Can you please give us some examples of what are considered “cool” colors and what would be considered “warm colors”? Please forgive this very basic question, I am a beginner. Thank you

    • Hi Debora,

      Generally speaking cool colors are colors that are associated with things that we think of as being cold. For example, ice is cold and has blue shadows – so blue is a cool color. Warm colors are the opposite. For example, fire is orange, red, and yellow. These colors are considered warm. Green and purple are transition colors. If a green has more yellow in it, then it’s considered warm. If it has more blue, then it’s considered cool. Purple is similar. If a purple has more red in it, then it is considered warm. If it has more blue, then it’s considered cool. If you want a little crash course in color theory, you may check out this live lesson on color theory and mixing… (This lesson does require that you be a full member to access.) I hope this helps.

  14. Hi,

    Great lesson, thanks. When I’m using the pastels at the top of the page some of the pastel rolls down the paper and discolours it. Is this normal or am I making a beginners mistake?!



  15. It’s better to get the finish as the work comes to the foreground and I wish you could not fast forward a few steps in one or two videos so that beginners can completely learn.

  16. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for this great video, but you made a mistake at 13:28. You said you worked “from the foreground to the middle ground to the background.” I think you meant it the other way around. 🙂

  17. I have just been to Santiago in Chile, surrounded by the Andes mountain range, and I carefully observed the colours of the mountains in the distance and they are exactly as they are shown in this video as they fade… Seeing the mountains live helps a lot understanding highlights and shadows on each mountain, as well.

  18. Matt – Should I use a ground to make the pastel adhere to the paper? I got discouraged doing the butterfly, as the pastel over time fell off the paper in places. I am doing each live lesson but not at your pace all the time. I love your courses and live lessons and if you could only see how I have improved in my artwork — drawing and painting — under your instruction. What a wonderful artist and teacher we are lucky enough to have — a part of my daily routine now! Anne Morrissey

  19. Hi,
    I hear some people saying to work from light to dark and others dark to light. I find limitations both ways and the colour tends to turn to mud, but my biggest issue is when trying to put white or light coloured pastel pencil over any dark area. Do you have any advice?
    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi James,

      Yes some people prefer to work from dark to light. I’d say fewer people work from light to dark with pastels. I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way. What is most comfortable to you is how you should work. You may find that over time you prefer working a certain way. As far as the issue with light values, I’ve found that the texture of the paper and the quality of the pastels play a role in this. Higher quality, pigment rich pastels are easily layered over darker sections. Papers with a heavy tooth (or texture) also help to accept lighter values over darker ones. If the tooth of the paper gets filled in or flattened, it’s harder to add additional colors, regardless of the value.

  20. I am curious as to why you don’t tell us the colors you are using. If I try to follow along it is difficult since I am not sure which yellow to start with, which purple to use, etc.

    • Hi Kathleen,

      Most pastel manufacturers don’t list the names of the colors, or they are very vague. It’s best to learn to add colors to a pastel painting by sight or by color theory ex. “yellow-green” instead of “lime peel”

    • oh Rambolini, I know exactly what you are talking about! I’ve managed some decent work in oils, acrylics and watercolors but seem to hit a brick wall with pastels.

  21. That was very beautiful and it was satisfying to watch. And now I know why my mountains always looked right there on top of each other. Making it lighter to dark and then adding that white line in between the mountains helped a lot with creating the illusion of space. Which was basically the main thing I was lacking.
    Thanks Matt!!!

  22. Hey
    I use the pages of “Pastel Matte”
    And you can not mix the colors!
    Which page should I use?
    And when when do I use the pages of “Pastel Matte”?

  23. Slowly but surely the illusion of teaching how to use pastels reveals itself to be just that, an illusion. This is the fourth course I’ve done by the virtual instructor and by far the worst.

  24. In Lesson 2 it says the materials used are soft pastels, NuPastels, and pastel pencils. However, during the demonstration it does not indicate which type of these you are using at any given time. Can you share how we would ow the difference ? Thank you.

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