This lesson is a nice warm up for all levels! It’s also a great beginner to intermediate lesson. It gives you an opportunity to practice making a variety of kinds of marks and to play with some color.

This is a two-part lesson. First a Follow-Along Demo. Follow along at your own pace but remember my suggestions for time limits!

Next is an Independent Assignment meant to expand on some of the principles presented in the Follow-Along Demo and to personalize your work. When you have completed both parts you can upload one or both images to receive a personal video critique on your work. Remember that the more mileage you get, the more progress you make, so I recommend that you complete both parts before submitting your images.

Who it’s for – This lesson is a nice warm up for all levels! It’s also a great beginner to intermediate lesson. It gives you an opportunity to practice making a variety of kinds of marks and to play with some color. The drawing is pretty simple, so you can concentrate on other aspects of the piece. I recommend following along for a first try, then using one of the alternate reference photos to do a second piece using the same steps; just applying them to the alternate reference photo.

What’s it’s About – This classic river scene is a familiar theme that draws the viewer’s eye to the area of interest (or focal point), using line, perspective and color.

Set a Personal Focus – Try to focus on just a couple aspects of the painting. For instance, if you are interested in color, focus on that and don’t worry too much about getting the drawing just right. Take it one step at a time!
Set a Time Limit – Keep it simple and don’t spend more than an hour on it. If you find yourself spending two or three hours on it, it’s time to STOP and try another version!

Materials

  1. Your pastels
  2. An 11 x 11 piece of Colorfix paper. I used Leaf Green for this lesson, but you could use a different color or different brand of paper if you like. Please use sanded pastel paper!
  3. Sketch book and pencil or pen

Extras:

  1. Easel
  2. Baby wipes
  3. An apron

Part I
Follow-Along Demo

Before You Start, a Few Tips on Following Along

  1. Stop the video whenever you need to – it’s one of the great things about learning this way. Plus, you don’t need to take notes!
  2. Don’t feel funny about copying my pieces! It’s a time-honored way to learn and I know you’ll develop your own “style” in due course. I give you lots of ways to take off on your own and expand on the demos/lessons.
  3. Take your time, but not really! I want you to speed up a bit so you can start to develop the “whole” piece all at once.
  4. Do it differently. If it feels uncomfortable, you’re likely on the right track.
  5. Remember the three “P’s” Perfection, Procrastination, Paralysis. There is no such thing as a perfect painting, so don’t even worry about it.
  6. If you have trouble, ask for help! My team and I want you to have a great experience doing the lessons!!
  7. There are 5 stages in each lesson. The beginning of each stage is a good time to pause the video, take a short break and check in on how you’re doing.

Oaks Bottom River Notes:
I used just 17 sticks for this piece. You may want to pick out sticks ahead of time, but don’t panic if you don’t have exactly what I used. Always err on the side of value.

Part 2
Independent Assignment

Do another version from the alternate reference photos. I’m a firm believer that mileage is one of the secrets to progressing as a painter. The second time around you’ll be more familiar with the scene and be free to concentrate on color, mark making choices and be able to move a little bit faster.

When You’ve Completed Both Part 1 & 2
When you’re done, click here to upload pics of your painting and I’ll send you a Personal Video Critique. I’m curious what you’ll come up with! The first critique request is a free bonus for you. If you’d like additional critiques, normally a Personal Video Critique is $97 but you can send a message my support team to get a discounted critiques package – I’ve already told them that since you are taking lessons from me, you get at least 40% off.

If you aren’t ready for a personal critique from me, then be sure to upload your work to our Community page where your peers can take a look. I often comment on the Community submissions as well – it won’t be a video critique but I really enjoy seeing your work and helping you when I can.

Next Up!
Try Lesson #2!

The Stages (applies to both part 1 & 2)

  1. Planning
    • Crop your reference, (feel free to crop it just like mine or change it up a bit).
    • Do a quick 5 to 10 minute thumbnail. This is a great way to get a feel for the piece and visualize the final version. It’s well worth the time.
  2. Drawing
    • Scale up your thumbnail to the correct proportion. Watch my video on scaling a sketch!
    • Lightly sketch in the essential shapes.
    • Use your thumbnail sketch more than your photo reference at this point.
  3. Blocking In
    • Establish the essential shapes of the piece, (3 to 5 largest shapes) Use the sides of the sticks).
    • Establish values for each of the main shapes. What is the overall or average value of each shape?
    • Get a feel for how the piece works as a whole.
  4. Adding On
    • Add a variety of hues, and intensity to each shape.
    • Add texture and smooth out gradations where needed. Watch my video To Blend or Not to Blend.
    • Add a light source or direction of light.
    • Add any detail.
  5. Finishing
    • Resolve any areas that need attention or TLC.
    • Slow down make color adjustments where needed.
    • Go the extra mile and exaggerate contrast and intensity where needed. Give yourself permission to do this!
Oaks Bottom River
Download the Lesson PDF

Enjoy “Oaks Bottom River”!

To Download the PDF file:
Ctrl-Click (MAC) and choose “Save File As”
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Click Here to Download the PDF

Download the Images PDF
To Download the PDF file:
Ctrl-Click (MAC) and choose “Save File As”
Right Click (PC) to download files.

Click Here to Download the Images PDF

Skill Builder
To Blend or Not To Blend
Scaling a Thumbnail Sketch

SUPPLEMENTAL VIDEOS

Lesson 9