Landscape Painting in Pastels | Karen Ciocca | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (1h 23m)
    • 1. About the Class

    • 2. Materials Used in Demo

    • 3. Painting a Tree with Leaves

    • 4. Pine Tree Demonstration

    • 5. Clouds and Field Part One

    • 6. Clouds and Field Part 2

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About This Class

I am excited to be teaching how to paint a landscape in pastel class!  In this class, we are going to study how to paint a tree with leaves, a pine tree, and clouds over a field. I felt these are some essentials to learn when you are beginning to paint landscapes. 

I call these studies- as I would love it if you took this class and applied it to your regular study practices of painting landscapes in a sketchbook that I recommend in the video. Then you can use your study references to create beautiful landscapes on more expensive paper. 

  • I recommend the supplies to use
  • I provide a PDF color wheel and grayscale chart. 
  • I provide the reference images I used to follow along if you like. 

The class is a bit long but as with any art demo, I want to show the real-time process. 
Please stop the videos to catch up or refer to them as needed. 

Thank you for taking my class! 



Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Karen Ciocca

Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Fine Artist


Hello Friends!

I am presently the Art and Marketing Director at a Granola-Nut company who also distributes organic and all-natural nuts, seeds and fruit to supermarkets and chains nationwide. 

My career has been as a corporate and boutique agency in-house graphic/package designer and digital illustrator. My packaging illustration and design work have been on retail and supermarket shelves for over 30 years. Including Pilot Pen, Bigelow Tea, Perrier, Lindt Chocolate, Poland Spring, Aurora Products.  

I am also a professional fine artist and I love to paint animals and nature. Having been commissioned numerous times. 

I am excited to share my skills as a Graphic Designer and Fine Artist here on Skillshare! 

 <... See full profile

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1. About the Class: Hi everybody. My name is Karen's Yoga. I'm a graphic designer, illustrator, and a fine artist. I've been in the field for over 30 years. And right now I'm an art director for an all natural and organic food company. In this class, I'm going to be demonstrating to you how I paint landscapes, different types, different elements in the landscape. So we're going to be going over how to paint two different types of trees. And then we're going to be painting a small landscape scene of some cumulus clouds and the landmass below. Thank you so much and I'll see you inside. 2. Materials Used in Demo: I would like to go over some of the supplies we're going to be using in my course. I really suggest, but I haven't used it to begin with the Strathmore tone tanned spiral pad. It's great for studies in grayscale and use with your new pastels. You can use any pastel paper that you have on hand. But I am using the Canson me tRNAs pastel paper that has different colors. One of my favorite papers I love working on is the pastel card by delineate comes in multiple colors. It's beautiful sanded paper and it takes a lot of layering. For this demonstration, I mostly use the new pastels by Prismacolor and also a lot of the Selenium or a Rembrandt soft pastels. I will be providing this color wheel to help you with your color choices and also gray-scale. And this has the images that we'll be using in this demonstration along with another pastel painting I did. And this is an SVG file that you can cut out or by hand or with your machine to help you with your value and color choices. So I just want to say that I absolutely love it when my students share their work with me. In my past courses, I've had a lot of students share their work with me and I was just amazed at what they have done after taking my course. That makes, makes me so happy when people learn things and they're happy with and what they're, what they're doing. So I hope that all of my courses have really good value for you and please share your work and I will get on there and comment as soon as I can. I am a busy girl, so it might be a few weeks, might be a few days, might be right away. I don't know, but I will definitely write a comment on there and give you some encouragement. And I thank you so much. Have a great day and I will see you in my next course. 3. Painting a Tree with Leaves: Hi there and welcome to my class on painting landscape studies in pastel. Today we're going to start with painting this pretty tree. It's taken from my community garden where I have a garden behind my house in a state park. And if it was a quite beautiful because it's early spring and leaves just came out so they are a beautiful yellow. It's early in the morning. I'm going to say it's like 930 in the morning, something like that. And I'm using Canson me tRNAs paper here and I'm using the smooth side of the paper, not the rough side of the paper. So when you open the pad, the top side that faces usually the rough side, you turn it over. There's a smooth side. So I'm just going to put that painting, the reference to the corner there so you can see it as we're painting. And I think a lot of people get nervous about painting trees. And I feel that the more you practice, the easier it becomes and it's really just shapes and forms like any other object you're going to paint. So here I literally started drawing in all of the, you know, the stems and branches of the tree, the predominant ones and the basic shape around the tree. And then I drew in lake little ovals of the clumps of leaves that I see on the tree. So if you squint your eyes and you look at the tree, you could see some of them stand out and some recede. And those are kind of the shadow areas recede. So you're just going to with your pencil. I'm using a pastel pencil here. That's a Brown. And I am just crosshatching some of the basic shapes of the tree down on my paper. Now, I'm not doing anything really super beautiful drawing here because we're just gonna paint right over this. We just want an idea of what the tree shape is. We're going to start out this pastel painting by adding are very farthest color that we think that's going to be the sky. So I'm picking a sky blue that's close to the color that is in my reference photo. I'm going to use predominantly new pastels in this illustration because it is, the harder pastels and paper can't take so many layers. So you're going to reserve using your software pastels for the details in the end. And I really like to blend my pastels with pastel layers and not so much smudging with my fingers or any other smudging instrument, because I feel that it leaves a beautiful luminescence. With the final piece. I'm going to come in with a darker blue to start working in the shadow parts of the tree. And this is kind of a warm blue and I don't have any of my colors labeled. So we're just gonna go with the color chart that I'm going to have a bride in the PDFs that you can download. I also added this dark blue towards the shade is on the ground. This is going to show the light shining from the right side of this illustration. I added this beautiful purple color, again as a shadow color to help make the background recede behind the tree form. And also, I'm adding some green on top of some more local color. Now we're starting to add some of this local color. I'm adding purple to the tree itself to, to the shadow areas. And this should really shine through and make some beautiful luminescent coloring in the tree. So here I'm adding a lighter blue, like a sky blue color to my sky. I'm just toning it a little bit lighter. And it is, you can see it's blending beautifully with the darker and it's not perfect. And I really like the way the two pastels blend together and create sort of this beautiful sky blue. If you download my color chart PDF, you'll see that there's a grayscale value chart. And if you were to put those holes in it or even just the value scale out without the holes, you can put it. The values of your reference photo and figure out what the value actually is that you need for your photo. So you can see in this, what I have up right now, like the 123, the fourth, the fifth one, is the same value as the purple behind it. And it's a great way to help you figure out the colors and values you need in your paintings. I added some pink here because I feel like this is early spring and when spring comes out, you can see that there's a lot of pink or reddish tinge there. The leaves before they're green, they're usually red little blossom that comes up and that turns into the leaves. And there's such a thought, a little hint of that here. And I added a light value green onto the ground because they wanted to help myself figure out what my darkest values are going to be. So it's easier to tell how dark or light you need to add in your photo and your illustration. Adding the extreme values first. I went in here and reinforced branch structures of the tree. I'm still using a middle tone for this. I'm going to add some light and shadow to it later. Here we go. I added some darks to the trunk of the tree and also some of the branches. And I added some darks to show some foliage in the background area behind the tree. I came to my tree and I used this very dark green. It's putting all the shadow is behind the tree needs to be dark so the tree pops out. And I added that shadow mass on the left side of the tree. I added a lighter green to just show leaf masses on the forest behind the trees. And then I'm going in with a more pure green color that's more like a grass green That's that's going to make it look closer to you. So it's just going to make it sparkle more. And we reserve the more local color that you see for things that are the closest to us, the things that are receding, the objects that received. You want to put a dollar kind of a color, more of a gray, neutral tone. The further you go back in space. So you can see this now I'm adding this local green and it's really starting to make the tree look more realistic. And it's blending with those shadow colors. And I'm being very particular kind of where I'm placing these masses, looking at my reference photo. And I really actually like the paper is shining through a kind of looks like sort of the morning glow of the sun. I added even a lighter value of the green. Bright green, just a very bright green. And then I'm going back. This is a soft pastel, but I picked up to just help the sky into those leaves so they just sort of blend together a little bit better. So obviously we're getting into the yellow, green color. The more we get to the lighter side, sunny side of the tree. This is definitely a yellow. We're just adding. Sometimes I feel those greens can look really, really want to add some yellow ocher. So this is just a little bit of this I'm adding to the tips of the branches that might be closest to where the sun is shining. This is in that green color. This is the same as we did before with the yellow. We're just kind of just tipping off the sum of these branch masses where the sun is shining the most. I'm going back and I'm adding a few shadow areas, very slight. Two places I might have, like overdid it and just checking my darks and my lights and checking it around. This is getting close to the end of the illustration. So now we're just going to just go around and add more darks where we need it, more lights when we need it. I hope you enjoyed this and hope you learned how to create a tree using pastels. It's a lot easier than it looks. Sometimes it looks very complicated, but I hope that I broke it down for you too, some easier steps. Thank you again and I'll see you in the next video. 4. Pine Tree Demonstration: So now we're going to start to draw in a pine tree. My learn how to create the shape of a pine tree. And I feel that this is pretty easy and it's a lot of fine. So I'm not sure where I got this image from, but I will provide one for you. So this tree is kind of backlit. The front of it, it's kind of thing. It's very dark, but it's still, it's good way to see the shape of the tree and the shape of the pine tree is usually like a triangle shape from the top to the bottom of the tree, the bottom of the tree, this dump is always a little thicker on the bottom and then at the top usually go straight up the branches from the top of the tree face upward towards the middle of the tree. The branches tend to go straight out or slightly bent upward, and then they start to slant downward. Then I'm going to take a darker pastel. And I'm going to start adding in the pine needles of the branches. Right here. I'm adding some more blue sky blues that are going to kind of stick through or those little patches of light that's coming through the tree. And this pastel is a little softer than the other one. I used a Boolean and it is literally blending that bat flew together and I really am going for a very loose, sketchy look to this tree, and I really love that look. But I think you're going to learn a lot from it. It's a lot shorter than our last video. I'm just going to darken up the stem here. And I'm going to grab a dark green and start adding the pine needles. The pine needles I'm drawing now are just little tick marks. And as I'm getting closer to the base or the middle stem of the tree. They are longer. And, and when I get towards the tip of the branches, they are tinier and some of these pine needles will be just on that main branch, but some of them will be on little smaller branches that come off of those branches. And I'm also painting some behind the other side of the tree, given a little suggestion of branches on the other side of the tree. So they are kind of flat 2. They don't like they're not big and bulbous are kind of flat. And so as you see, I'm sort of just making this triangle fill in with all of these little tick marks of grant is, and I'm also feeling some in in front of you as if some branches are actually on the front of this tree, then they would be foreshortened. Now with a more middle value, green and it's a slightly warmer green then the cool green we were using before, remember that cool colors we seed and the warmer colors will appear to be closer in most cases. Before we go in for our details of our pine needles, I'm just going to go in and add some more branches here and there. And just make my eyes, the stem main part of the tree just look really believable. And these branches are with a darker brown color. Now I'm adding some highlights and I'm just kind of tipping the edges of a lot of the branches because most of the light is behind it and you would see some brightness on this side of the tree too. But I just want you to be able to see that there's actual volume to the tree. So these lights actually add a lot of volume to the tree. So this was a much shorter little demonstration of a pine tree. I hope you liked it. And here I'm just going to finish up by adding to the tips of some of these branches a very light, kind of an olive green. Most of the pine tree is sort of on the bluish side or the cooler side, then the warmer side only new branches are new leaves on pine needles are ever kind of on the warmer side. Thank you and I will see you in the final video. 5. Clouds and Field Part One: In this video, we're going to be painting some beautiful clouds on a bright sunny day and a field. I'm sketching in my drying. So I'm adding that horizon line where I think I want it to be. And I'm adding the trees in the background that are growing there and on that file in my image, my reference image exactly, This is my painting in my interpretation. So what I do like the way it basically looks. And for this demonstration, it's to show you how I approach landscapes, clouds, and a field with light shining on it. We're going to start off with this Delaney a carts paper. It's a sanded surface. It's very evenly sand it so there's no like bug bumps in it. It's like a bristle type paper, so it's pretty thick and it really holds a lot of pastel layers. I always start my pastel paintings with a harder pastel and work up to softer, more buttery pastels. So I'm using these new pastels and I used a dark brown and blackish brown for my horizon line. And I use the sky blue to do sort of a negative shape around my cloud forms and just give an idea of where I want to place them. I did speed up my painting a little bit because it would be like over two hours I feel so I'm showing you this video and like not a double time, little less than double time. So but it could still explain and I do feel like you can stop it at anytime and catch up if you're following along and then start it back up again. I like to work in my shadows with some purples and some blues, especially if they're going to be in the distance, you want to have things recede. So I feel like doing it an underpainting of darker blues for that horizon line. And purples will help you with your eye. Move things backwards so anything in the distance will be duller shade. And anything closer to who's going to be more vibrant and darker. And dings in the background are going to be a little bit lighter, a little bit duller and color. So I'm adding purple shadow lines to all of my clouds. Clouds have shape and form just like anything else. Think of it as the bottom is the shadow. Look at, look at the big cloud in the middle. You've got that gradient on the bottom, so the sun is hitting it mostly from the top. And then you're going to find the little bubbles inside are also going to have shape and form to create that fluffy look. So some of it is soft edged in, some of it is hard edged. And we're just going to work on that little by little and build it up to create these cloud forms. So in this part you can see that I actually knock down my background horizon line. I didn't like the way it was too tall and see if that gets too close. I was looking for more of it to look like it was far in the distance like the photo reference shows. So I literally knocked it off. So there's not a lot of layers of pastel. And then I went back in with that purple and change my horizon line so the trees appear a little bit larger on the edges of my painting and in the middle of the painting, they are going to be small to appear further away. I added a very dark green in the background of these trees and some of that blue, which is a more of a cool blue. And then I added purple above the tree line because I really love that, that sky, how purple it is. And I'm just going to build up those layers. I know it's sort of a darker, medium, purple, but once we add layers to it, it's going to become that beautiful, luminous color that you see there. And I'm still using hard or semi hard pastels from my kit. When observing these cumulus clouds that are in this, in this reference photo, I can see that the middle cloud is pretty much in the middle of the field, a little bit further back. And the Cloud to the top right is pretty much overheads. If I were standing in the field, that one on the top right would be right above us. And you can see that the middle cloud is. Pretty shaded on the bottom you can see a lot of the shadow. About half of it is shadowed on the bottom. It's like a gradient. And as it's going further in the distance and closer to the horizon, those shadow lines are getting thinner and thinner till almost non-existent in the var, shadow and the sky and the clouds kind of our melding together. And that shows me that this is kind of a warm day and a beautiful warm day. So we're trying to capture not only what the clouds look like, but how it might feel in that painting on that day. When I'm making my pastel paintings, I don't always like to smudge with my fingers because we're layering multiple colors underneath as our base coat of paint. And I really like that to shine through. As you're making your marks, you can see the paint that you pastel strokes that you already put down as your base coat. And it's just blending together and creating beautiful colors that are really luminescent. But if I were to take my finger and smudge and there are times when I will do that. But in general, I tend to want to just blend with the pastel itself. So you could put some soft pastel down on your background. So if you're getting softer and softer and sometimes I'll take a similar color with a hard pastel and just start going over it because it won't drop ladder color, but it will start blending for me. So here I am trying to replicate the sort of the gradient in the sky. So this guy is kind of a cool blue on top, near the nearest you and directly on the top of the painting. And the further away you get to the horizon you can see it suddenly changes from this cool to kind of a warm, bluish purple color. So in pastels is kind of hard to gauge what value you need unless you have sort of a contrast. So I'm dropping back in my darkest shadows again so that I could figure out what value I need for my sky. I'm I too dark or too light, so we'll never actually match the color on the photograph. So we're doing the best we can with the pastels. We have to at least get that gradient right. So if it's not exactly the right exact color, as you see, I mean, you might have those colors and for some reason I felt like I didn't. So I'm just going to layer this this beautiful warmer. Even know what color it is. Blue. And then I will add a cooler color on top of it. So hopefully the two together will get close to the color that I'm seeing in the photograph. So it looks like I'm adding white to my clouds, but it actually isn't. It's a yellowish white, so you have a range of whites. And since the, you have this cool color of blue, It's really nice to add that yellow if you look at clouds, they are actually pretty yellow in the, the white, puffy areas. And then you'll have it more of a bright white just in like highlight sections of it. So I'm trying to adjust my values a little at a time. So it builds up to what I am looking for in this horizon line. And the way it goes back. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error. Sometimes you put a mark down like, oh, maybe I should have done that, but it's pastel. You can wipe it off a little bit and start over. So I never stress about it at all and actually really love it. It's a lot of fun to experiment and play with the pastel. It's also a really good idea to not always stick with one section of your painting side painted a lot of the sky in. And I kinda like where it's going right now I feel like the horizon line is looking really good. You can see above the trees that is really coming out really good. So I thought now's the time to start putting in my field. I put a cool green way in the back. That's where the sign is kind of shining but it's an a distance. So remember we're going to try to make that reseed and have the foreground of the painting go forward. And like I said before, I really love to mix colors and play with colors. So I would, I want to just add that green there and some yellows. And then that green in the front is more of a brownish green. So it looks like there's something growing in the field. There is something dirt maybe and it really does look, are ready like that field is going in the distance. And so here I am lightening up my clouds again because once I saw my field, I'm like, You know what, I got to make it a little bit lighter around that middle cloud. And little by little it is really taking form. So here I found this lighter, cool blue, cobalt blue back there and I am loving the color that's coming out. So that darker blue is kinda shining through this and it's creating that look as looking forward. A little warmer near the bottom of my horizon line. Here I'm adding a very light blue white color to my clouds and trying to just define more of those little cotton ball shapes inside the Cloud and make those wispy edges and there's some harsh edges and there's some wispy edges. It's always a good idea to have hard edges and soft edges because it really helps you figure out what would it is you're looking at in it. It's quite, it's quite beautiful if everything were harsh, it would be harsh to look at. So you want to just make some soft edges and some blended edges and also some hard edges to define where you want your eyes to look. I'm just gonna go ahead and paint a little bit. You can see them going to add some gray soft pastels. And also I'm going to add like a purple saw passed down. Just keep defining the shapes. I'm McLeod's till I'm happy with it. Hi. Hi. Hello. Hi. Industry. Okay. Hi. Okay. 6. Clouds and Field Part 2: I just want to say that in almost every pastel painting and even oil paintings or acrylic paintings, we get to a point where like this kind of ugly. I'm not really liking where it's going, but trust me, keep working at it and just get over that hump in the middle. It's always, and I think it's kinda fun to just, you know, just sketch around and just put the paint down and do the best you can and think about every stroke you're making and what you're doing. And I kid you not, it will be beautiful in the end. Just keep working on it because, and you'll see how this painting right now. I mean, I'm like, it's okay and I'm I'm happy with it. I know where it's going because they've done this before. But there are times when I first started using pastels and I literally ripped up the whole painting because I thought it was bad. And, but it's a thought process. And it's, it's actually really good to just sit and do this kind of work. It's good for your brain, it's good for your soul. So in my mind anyways, so hi Here, I guy out of very bright white and I'm just going on the tops of the clouds where I think the Sun is really hitting it, the brightness and just putting some marks here and there to really define each of the clouds at this point. Okay, so now we're going to play with the field more and I'm going to add a lot more local color. So we're gonna go back to our background and go add some dark, more of a Kelly green color here and there. This is a dark green and I'm adding right now and just making shapes of the, maybe the shadows of the trees back there and leaving some of that other color that we left had there before. And I'm going to add some darks to the field and also going to change that further green color by adding another green over it. And the two colors together should make a beautiful illusion of it going in the background setColor, it's kind of a sappy green and a middle tone. And I'm just going over that because it's lighter back there. The sun is shining on it, but it's not as light as that patch in the front there. So now I'm adding that dark band of whatever growth is in the field there. And I'm not being too careful with it. It doesn't have to be perfect because it is plants and they wouldn't be perfect. And this is a bluish green and I'm going to add some darker green on top of it. I'm adding in some dark colors and I'm not really sure what's out there, but I can see that there's sort of a brownish, reddish tint out there. It could be dirt, it can be something growing. I'm not really sure, but it really adds to the dimension. This color is a very dark brown, I believe, or are almost black. So have a lot of colors in miscellany, a box. And I'm adding this also into the far horizon here. And they're not everywhere because you wouldn't want to be stuck on one line. And I will go in and probably blend it a little bit more with another color. There I go. So I just put that dark, blackish color and then I added some green over it just to break it up. And I'm really loving the way this is starting to look. Doing the same for that middle ground. And now we're going to paint in some sunshine with our sharp. How do you know how much safer? Chartreuse color green. It's a light yellow green. So look at your color chart that I'm providing and I don't really need the colors as they would be in your paint box, but I'm naming the colors as they are on the color wheel and RGB color wheel. And so this would be a yellow, green. And it looks quite pretty next to that you don't color that dark was actually a dark, dark purple color. I'm trying to remember what I put there, but it's a dark, dark purple. It's almost black, but it's purple, which I really love. And so I'll just keep manipulating it and toning things down as I see fit. And the beautiful thing about this standard paper is you can keep just really working it. Now if I were doing this on the previous paper we were using, which is a cancer. I would have had pastels falling off at this time and not the paper not being able to take it. So Azure getting close to the foreground, you can see that I've switched my marks to going up and down and the direction of the growth of the field plants. So I'm looking at this photo and thinking how do I paint the foreground, the dirt, and everything that's going on in that foreground without me too much attention to, because the painting really isn't about the weeds in the front growing there. It's more about the mood of the painting. This is a bright sunny day. There's a beautiful field. How do we convey this feeling of this beautiful day without drawing attention to the large weeds growing or that whatever the greenery is in the front. So here I painted some reddish brown. It's a nice light brown and some reddish brown strokes going the same direction as the weeds or whatever is in that field. And as I am adding green on top of it, it is blending it very nicely to create an illusion of plants growing there. And you really do not want to draw a lot of attention to it, but you just want it to look like There's something growing there. And everything in the foreground should be a little bit bigger. And as you go back, your line should get smaller and smaller to convey that sense of space. I'm really loving the way my middle ground is looking. So I'm going to now add detail to the front area, and I've already put purple down, and this is a dark purplish blue. And it's quite beautiful colors of my favorite colors and my pastel kit. And I'm just painting the shadow areas and defining maybe some leaves and stocks. These growth in the front. After looking at it, I decided that these growth needed a little bit more pop to bring it forward. So I'm adding some more light sunny grass just right behind all of this growth. And then I'm going to go back in and add more details to the weeds. So here I kind of painted two extremes. A painted the dark, dark greens and then a very light sunny greens. And then you look at it and you decide, do I like what's going on here? I think I need to make a middle tone. But when you put those two extremes together, it really gives you the the vision of what you need to do next because you really can't decide unless you have that value there. You know, your colors work off of each other and values work off of each other. So by putting that dark down, you know, ahead of time, the darkest darks and lightest lights. You can judge better than what the other colors and values need to be. So as you're finishing up our painting by adding little details, harder strokes on the weeds in the front. And I'm going to go back to that yellow midtone, mid line there and just add some taller grasses by gently pushing my pastel stick up three lightly so it makes just hairs coming up. And just look around your painting and decide what you want to add or take away. And sometimes I even put my painting away for a few days and come back to it and I'll work on it some more. So, but I'm really happy with this landscape study. I hope you are too, and I wish you all the best. Thank you so much. I hope to see you in my next video.