My Lessons | Including Structures | Supplemental Videos | Student Critiques


Including a structure in our pieces can add interest and character to our paintings. They can add a level of complexity to our compositions and gives us the opportunity to record architectural details or capture the character of a favorite place. But we want to include them as part of the landscape so they don’t appear as a cut out or pasted on element. We want them to have the same atmosphere that pervades the rest of the landscape! This lesson month’s lessons provide some insight on how to include structures.

The Rural Landscape

A Barns are an iconic part of the rural landscape and can serve as a strong focal point. I’ll take you through the steps to include a structure in a convincing way so it is part of the landscape. Before we get started we do some study of perspective and composition.

Thumbnails Tabletop

Putting your ideas down in thumbnail form will greatly improve the impact and balance of your compositions. This video takes you through the process of creating three thumbnail versions, then one step further to a color study. A little bit of perspective drawing is thrown in for good measure!

Cityscape – The Post Office

Sometimes we take for granted the beauty in the mundane day-to day scenes in our lives! Seeing everything through the eyes of an artist is a treasure! I’ll take you through my trip to the post office and the paintings I created.

Industrial Cityscape

Finding beauty in unexpected places is one of the joys of seeing the world through the eyes of an artist! This cityscape includes which includes, structures, cars, a street sign and even a trash can. We have to see the scene simply as a strong pattern of light and shadow before we can paint it. I walk you through the steps to distill this scene down to it’s core elements.


These videos will extend your understanding of the key concepts presented this month. Spend some time with these. Some of them are YouTube videos available to the public but they fit nicely with our study, so I wanted you to be aware of them and take a look.


The landscape is filled with a vast amount of visual information. 360* of information and it's our job as painters to distill that information down to the essential elements and organize them on a two dimensional picture plane into a pleasing, coherent whole. We have to see it simply in order to paint it simply. But this is easier said than done and it takes practice. First we have to reduce the visual landscape, a living and complicated scene into a combination of shapes and patterns; a composition.

A Little Color Theory

Does color theory make your eyes cross? In this quick overview on the topic, Marla makes sense of basic color theory and explains how you can use it to add excitement to your pastel paintings. With a greater understanding of hue and intensity, value and contrast, color temperature, simultaneous contrast, and more, you'll handle color in your paintings with greater confidence and control.

Color in Light & Shadow

Accurately matching a color that appears in the light and the shadow regions of a picture can be difficult. I give you some tips on how to better make color choices in these tricky situations.


We’re all going to erase pastel at one time or another. You might not do it too often but there are going to be times when you need to. There are some tools that we can use to do it and it’s pretty easy to make but the end result in erasing is going to depend on the type of paper you use. I’m going to show you how to erase with a couple of different kinds of pastels and values and what you can expect.