How to Paint Rocks at Beach in Pastels

Skill Level : 1 Beginner

Medium : Pastel Painting

Subject : Seascapes

Tutor : Dennis Clark

Class Length : 2 hours 08 minutes

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Silver Level or Higher Class

Class Description

Very few seaside scene don't have rock or cliff of some sort in them. This one is no exception on the coast west of Auckland. You will paint these rocks and cliffs using soft pastels.

In this lesson you will learn:

1. How to  take time to observe
2. What to put in and what to leave out
3. How to simplify what you see
4. How to brighten up a dull even looking painting

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Class Tutorial


Add the outlines to the pastel paper either by graphite sheet or Dressmakers carbon paper. DO NOT draw the outlines with a graphite pencil.  Rather draw with a pastel pencil.

Draw in the dark shadow areas

Add the dark shadows with a dark purple pencil. This sets the tonal range for the rocks.

Begin with the profile

Use a light grey pencil to begin the profile of the cliffs.

Paint the sky

Rub some soft white in the sky area and some light blue for the sky in the top right corner. Blend the white slightly near the horizon to indicate a haze.  Add some touches of dark blue as shown, and blend.

The blue is completed but not overblended. Leave a few wispy clouds over the blue of the sky.

Add the billows to the clouds with a soft white pastel stick.

Start the cliff and hill sides

Go lightly over the dark shadows with a dark brown pastel.

Add a light coating of Yellow Ochre to the hillside and blend lightly. Add Raw Sienna for the darker shades. Add some Burnt Sienna in a few places to warm the painting up a bit.

The highlight of the rock face are added with some Naples Yellow. Use the dark brown pencil to add the subtle textures to the rocks.

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The cliff in shadow

Begin darkening up the lower left cliff to indicate the vertical sides. Add darker areas to bring out the roughness of the cliff.

Use the Naples Yellow pastel stick to bring out all the smaller highlights. Don't be too hasty in this area.

Paint the sea

Use a dark blue to edge the sea on the horizon. Then use a blue/green pastel stick and stroke it sideways in the sea area, leaving out the tops of the waves.

Add bright blue at the bottom of the picture and layer some over the previous blue/green strips but not over the top areas.

With a soft white pastel stick begin to stroke in the breakers as shown. Note the breakers against the shore line of the cliffs.

With a White pastel pencil carefully add the wisps off the tops of the breakers.

Use a dark blue pencil to add the shadows under the breaking waves.

Carefully add in the movement and water texture in the flat water between the breakers.

Paint some gulls

Add some gulls to give some life to the painting. There are always some gulls flying around.

Final drawing

About Dennis Clark

Read more about Dennis Clark

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