How to Paint Trees With Pastels


Pastels are nearly pure pigment that is ground and formed into sticks. They produce a wide range of opaque colors which can be laid on top of one another, creating depth and texture. These properties lend themselves well to painting nature. You can easily capture the lighting and the colors of the tree that you have chosen to paint with pastels.

Things You'll Need

  • Pastel paper
  • Neutral color hard pastel stick
  • Black hard pastel stick
  • 3 soft pastels in shades of green
  • 3 soft pastels in shades of brown
  • 1 yellow-white soft pastel
  • Draw the outline of your tree with a neutral-color hard pastel. This will provide you with a basic guide, when you apply your colors and will not be visible in your finished painting. Hard pastels have a firm texture that will not fill the tooth of your paper. They are used under the layers of soft pastels.

  • Shade the darkest shadows of your tree trunk, branches and leaves with your hard black pastel stick. This will establish where your deepest colors will be painted.

  • Choose a deep brown from your palette of soft pastels and paint over the top of the black on the trunk of the tree and its branches. Apply a medium brown for your middle tones and a light brown where the sun is shining on the tree. Pastels are opaque, so light colors can be painted over darker colors. Very gently smooth your colors a little with your finger for blending.

  • Choose a deep green soft pastel and apply the color on top of the black that defines the deepest shadows in your leaves. Next, apply a medium green where the middle tones appear in the top of the tree. Choose a light yellow green to use for the lightest tones. Lightly smooth the colors with your finger to blend them slightly. Do not be afraid to overlap the lighter colors on top of the darker ones.

  • Pick up a yellow-white pastel stick to use sparingly for the highlights in the trunk, branches and the leaves. This will provide high contrast and make your tree painting appear to be three dimensional on your paper.

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