How to Draw a Small Stream in Pastel

Skill Level : 1 Beginner

Medium : Pastel Painting

Subject : Landscapes

Tutor : Dennis Clark

Class Length : 2 hours 03 minutes

Avg Rating : No Ratings Yet

Silver Level or Higher Class

Class Description

A lovely little stream trickling down from the Drakensberg Mountains (Dragon's Mountain) in South Africa.  Often simple scenes such as this can be the making of beautiful paintings. In this class you will draw this scene using  soft pastels.

In this lesson you will learn:

1.  How to draw the distant mountain
2.  How to simplify the background shrubs and  tall grass
3.  How to draw the texture and branches of the willow trees
4.  How to add the small bridge and the path
5.  How to add in the rocks and pebbles
6. How to show the shine of the water.

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After tracing the template to the pastel paper take a black pastel pencil and go over the lines that are in the sky area. This way, when the sky colour is applied, the outlines of the branches will not disappear on you. Don't use a graphite pencil for this.

Paint the sky and distant hills

Use a very light blue for the sky and a light mauve for the hills. Don't do any detailing as they are in the hazy area.

The distant trees

There are no details in these trees. First layer a very light yellow and then a very light layer of green. Smooth it with the finger. Next add some dark brown over the lower section for the shade under the trees.

Begin the main tree trunk

With the same dark brown fill in the trunk and the branches. Take note of the different tonal areas on the trunk.

Continue on the background trees

Some darker green is used to give the impression of closer trees behind the main trunk and lightly rubbed over the rest of the area. With a brown pencil draw in some thin tree trunks and twigs.

Start the smaller tree and the bridge

Plot the branches that are not covered or hidden by the leaves. Draw in the foot bridge.

For the grass behind the bridge, lightly pull out a light colour over the dark shadow of the trees. This light over the dark brings out the grass tips very well. Continue working on the leaves for the smaller tree.

The branches and twigs

Sketch in the branches and the twigs with a dark brown pastel pencil.

The pathway

Add a few twigs to the small tree and map out the pathway.

The stream embankments

Lightly add a light green to the grass embankments and with the dark brown pencil, merge the trunk into the grass.

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The trunk highlights

Merge the grass and the trunk of the main tree. With a yellow pastel stick stroke in the highlights and the texture of the trunks.

Begin blocking in the rocks

With a pinkish coloured pencil block in the highlights of the small rocks. When you have done that, add the shadow or darks of the rocks.

Begin painting the stream

After adding in all the major rocks and a small portion of the ground, begin adding in the darker areas of the stream. The centre of the stream will be kept a very light blue.

Rocks in the embankment

In a similar manner paint in the rock group on the right. Note the varying sizes and shapes. Don't make them all similar in size and shape – very boring!
With a white pencil, softly blend the dark blue into the very light blue stream.

Finish off the larger rocks in the foreground. Use a yellow or Naples yellow pastel stick for the highlights.

Add the grass details near the pathway.

Left hand embankment

Add details to this embankment and tone up the water in the foreground with some darker blue.


Add a few white and red “dots” for flowers and stroke in the Willow tree's downward overhanging branches.

Final drawing

About Dennis Clark

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