Pastel Landscape Mastery: Trees and Foliage

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Lesson Description

A look at drawing trees and bushes within the landscape using basic shapes. In this lesson, we create a pastel landscape drawing of several trees in the foreground and background.

Lesson Materials

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

Lesson Resources

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Lesson Discussion

    • Hi Chris,

      It depends. Once a strong base of color is in place, some of the applications are allowed to “sit” without any blending. If colors should have a transition or gradation, then blending is required. You can choose to blend as you apply each color or wait until you have colors in place before blending. It’s up to you. The results will be similar either way.

  1. Really wonderful tutorial. The technique applications were straightforward, particularly about the water reflections & the gnarly tree in the foreground. It was amazing to see the distant trees take shape with the applications of dark blue & yellow. I am slowly getting the hang of pastels. Thank you!

  2. Hello,
    How can we preserve the pastel sketches, I tried fixative but it completely dulled my previous sketch(The sky). I have to re do it again.

  3. All your demos are inspiring but this one is very special – the line of trees in the distance and reflections on the water almost made me cry, they are so beautiful. I notice you are using quite hard pastels – I think I may have wasted a lot of money on some very expensive, creamy soft pastels, they have amazing colour but are so very difficult to use so I have gone back to the square sticks of very affordable Inscribe with Conte sticks and Derwent Pastel Pencils for finer details. I will keep trying the expensive ones as I gain experience – maybe one day I will master them! Meanwhile my priority is to produce acceptable pictures, otherwise I will get discouraged and give up.
    Thank you again, Matt, you are a blessing to so many of us!

  4. Dear Matt,
    Hello! I wanted to ask what brand of pastels you were using in this video. I bought the Reeves set, but I am suffering from major fallout and crummy blending, when you seem to be just fine.

    Thank you!


  5. Hi Mat….
    What a wonderful course! I am learning so much!

    I do have a question. I am having a very hard time keeping my artwork clean. I am constantly cleaning my hands, my work area, my pastels (am using Rembrant soft pastels because they seem to be the least dusty). Still, my artwork gets muddy with pastel dust. Trying to use a soft brush to brush off the dust is just not helping. I am already using tracing paper to place under my hand while I am working, so I am not smudging the pastels.

    So, my question is, what is the best way to keep the artwork clean of unwanted dust? Is there a “best practices” way to clean the artwork while working on my picture?

    Thank you…. Gigi Kratzke

  6. I noticed in the final completed drawing, the one you flashed on the screen just before the end of the video, is much brighter than the one you completed while showing you drawing in action. It looks like yellow highlights were added to brighten it up. I really like it better. Did you add yellow highlights to accomplish this look?

  7. Thank you Matt for such a great video. I love this landscape. I will buy some soft pastels next week and try it! I have a question, is it possible to sketch the landscape with H pencil before I start? For me I need to plan where to put the trees and lake etc otherwise the lake will be too big, not enouth space for the big trees … If I use H pencil, will the pencil be still visible after I finish drawing with pastel? Sometimes I have this problem with colored pencil drawings.

    • Hi Joyce,

      Some artists like to use fixative on their finished pastel drawings. Fixative will help keep the pastel dust from moving on the surface. I don’t use fixative since it darkens values a bit. Instead, I keep my pastel drawings safe in a drawer with a cover sheet until I’m ready to frame the art.

  8. Hi Matt,
    I have asked this question before,my pastels clog and I have difficulty in layering some colours, like putting light colours over dark, is this down to the paper, it’s 250 gsm.

  9. Great lesson! But I wish you would mention when you switch to nupastels. I have softer pastels, and nupatels, which I understand are harder. I’ve done 3 pastel lessons of landscapes, and I’ve yet to switch to nupastels which I like very much. And I really like the nupastels.

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