How to Paint Peaceful Stream in Oils

Skill Level : 1 Beginner, 2 Intermediate

Medium : Oil Painting

Subject : Landscapes

Tutor : Nolan Clark

Class Length : 2 hours 7 minutes

Avg Rating :

Gold Level or Higher Class

Class Description

In this oil painting class you will learn how to paint a peaceful stream hidden between the trees.

During the lesson, you will learn how to :

1) Show a stream snaking through the landscape
2) Create depth in a scene without lots of natural distance
3) Show water gushing around the rocks in the stream
4) and lots more...

Latest Reviews

Excellent class, thank you Nolan.


Class Video

Class Tutorial


sketching the drawing onto the canvas

Lightly sketch in the main parts of the scene.  Watercolour pencil works well for this purpose.

Colour mixing

colors that will be used in painting

Mix the colours you will need for the trees and ground.  Prepare midtones, highlights, and shadow tones.


painting the background

Roughly spread your dark green colour as an underpainting around the trees shapes in the upper part of the painting.  Over that, create an interesting textured background by applying some dabs and dashes of the next lightest green to suggest some foliage.

Background – Ground

painting the foreground

Beginning with your darkest ground colour, block in the ground areas in the foreground.  Add more dark to the paint if necessary.  Move on to applying the lighter browns.  In the upper background, brush on some rough patches of ground in various tones.

Background – Grass painting

painting the foreground grass

Scrub in the grass tones between and on the ground colours.  Note the brush stroke Nolan uses to effect grasses.

Begin to use darker colours as you move forward.  Change your brush stroke as you begin adding bush shapes.  Using a dabbing motion, use lighter tones to build up texture in the bushes.  Create lots of contrast in front and very-low contrast off in the distance.

Trees - Colour mixing

palette of tree colors

Mix your tree tones for midtones, highlights, and shadows.  Slowly thin down your paint as you will need it to flow over previously painted spots.

Painting trees

painting the tree trunks

Use your darkest tree colour to block in the silhouette of the trees.  Add in some smaller trees in the distance.  Now apply the midtone tree color as your highlight using Nolan's technique with a rigger brush to create texture.   Continue by adding branches, complete with highlights.

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Leaves - Colour mixing

palette of the leaf colors

Use your preferred method to transfer the template to the canvas.  Cover the leaf and ladybug with a product such as Clear Cover to protect them before painting the background.

Leaves - Painting

painting the leaves

Use Nolan's tapping technique to apply leaves to the trees in the background, then add highlights.

Main tree

painting the main tree

Thin the tree paint.  Use the darkest tone to fill in the outside bottom edge of the tree.  Then paint in the mid-tone and highlight colours.   Roughly blend them together to give the bark effect.

Create a bit of texture on the embankment to the left of the tree.


painting the water

Using your remaining colours, squiggle on those that are reflecting onto the water.  Be sure the correct colours are reflecting in the appropriate places.  Now use short vertical strokes to make the water look shiny, then use horizontal strokes to make the water appear to be flowing.  Apply a light tone to edge off your water with ripples.


highlights on the water

Fill in the remaining foreground with your darkest green.  Flick out some grasses with a hardware brush.  Add highlights.  End by creating some individual blades of grass with Nolan's technique of using no paint.

Final overview

There are many tips in this lesson.  One, in particular, is Nolan's demonstration of how to make a “chisel point” when loading your paint brush.  It can be used for drawing small lines, such as tree branches and twigs.


About Nolan Clark

Read more about Nolan Clark

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