Whether you are completely new to pastel painting or looking to build on the foundation of knowledge you already have, the Watch & Paint Lessons are an eye opening journey that will enrich your painting experience.

In this lesson I’ll provide a strong base of the fundamentals while helping you develop your own unique style. Together we’ll create winning compositions, capture illusive patterns of light and shadow and transform the ordinary in to the extraordinary.

Painting Fall Trees

You might as well get started on the right foot with foliage! This is a picture of my final piece – an idea of where you want to go with this lesson. The object is to help make sense of the overwhelming masses of color and value that foliage can present. I explain how to plan for the shapes and how to handle sky holes. First you’ll want to read through the instructions, download the reference photos and lesson PDF files. Then set aside some time to paint and follow along with the video demo. You can pause and rewind any time you need to.
Promise of Red

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 for all levels! You might as well get started on the right foot with foliage! The key is in planning for the shape of the foliage.
What’s it’s About – This lesson helps to make sense of the overwhelming masses of color and value that foliage can present. I explain how to plan for the shapes and how to handle sky holes.

Set a Personal Focus – Try to focus on just a couple aspects of the painting; maybe just concentrate on the sky holes; getting a variety of sizes and shapes.

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! I recommend looking at the supplemental videos on Distilling & Simplifying and Seeing Value.


  1. Your pastels
  2. An 12 x 12 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


  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.

Personal Notes: This piece is depicting a very familiar scene to me; one that I see in every season. I love the glistening road and sidewalk with the leaves scattering everywhere. I really tried to capture the blustery beauty of the day.

Suggested Additional Videos: Distilling & Simplifying, Seeing Value

Part 2
Independent Assignment

Please take the time to do this part of the lesson! The more mileage you get behind the easel, the faster you will progress! Maybe tackle some green foliage or another fall scene! Use one of the photos provided for reference or use your own!

When You’ve Completed Both Part 1 & 2
When you’ve finished, send me your image or images and I’ll reply with a personalized video critique of your efforts! Just follow the simple directions on the site. I’d love to see your version of a familiar place!

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 (colors) of the same value 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 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!
Download the Lesson PDF
Download the Images PDF


Distilling & Simplifying
Seeing Value